What to do with the great tide of discarded toys, kitchen gadgets and endless bits and pieces that crowd our house and clutter our minds?
There's too much stuff in our lives and houses and self-help guides on reducing clutter abound. There's even a 12-step help programme for true sufferers (you know you've got a problem when you start paying for commercial storage space to house your extra belongings).
The first thing you can do is have a thorough investigation of your stuff with a view to throwing out as much as you can.
✨ Do it room by room, maybe setting aside an afternoon a week for each room.
✨ Get everything out of the cupboards and divide into three piles - things to keep, things to throw and the "don't know" pile. This pile needs to be stowed away for six to 12 months. Items you don't use during this time have to go.
✨ Take the chuck-out pile and divide again into three piles - for landfill or recycling, for the op shop and for TradeMe or friends.
✨ Another neat idea is to put a "donation bag" on a hook by your front door. Simply fill it up with things for charity as you come across them and when it's full make a donation to your local charity shop.
So that's the theory anyway, but of course it's easier said than done, especially when you have children who attract stuff like Velcro attracts lint. Hands up those currently agonising over the following:
✨ Tiny baby garments that are too cute and precious to give away.
✨ Toys and books the kids have grown out of but might want to keep to pass on to their kids.
✨ Toys that much-loved aunties and friends gave your child but lie consistently unloved at the bottom of the wardrobe.
✨ Clothing that doesn't fit anymore or clothing that's still a bit big but there's nowhere else to store it but in the overflowing drawers.
✨ Baby utensils, blankets, wraps, burp cloths etc you're holding on to in case you have another baby, or your sister/best friend/cousin has one.
✨ Artwork by your precious ones from the age of four months.
✨ Take a step back, people, and think about what's important to you. Do you need a box full of baby mementoes or will a few special keepsakes do?
Will those friends and relations mind, or even know, if you quietly pass on a few unloved toys to other children who'll adore them?
Take into account your current storage space and decide whether you can comfortably accommodate the extra baby/kids gear. If you can, simply bag it or box it, label it and stow it somewhere out of the way.
So you've culled as much as you can and there's still stuff that has no home. "A place for everything and everything in its place" is the aim. It's time to create more space.
Rather than buying or building new cupboards - look up. Is there space for new shelving above beds, couches or cupboards? Is there room for hanging things from walls, doors or the ceiling? Try to think of solutions that use as little floor space as possible.
✨ Add hooks and racks to the inside of wardrobe doors for scarves, hats, umbrellas etc. You can buy rows of hooks or railings that simply need to be screwed onto doors or walls.
✨ Invest in a multi-pocketed over-the-door organiser or hanging pocket organiser.
✨ A tree hanger (such as the one right from Mocka) can get kids' hats, coats, bags and toys off the floor quickly and easily. Or you could get a vintage-style umbrella stand.
✨ If you have a late-model TV, hang it on the wall, with the stereo unit on shelves under it.
✨ Ever found yourself hunting for something in a crammed cupboard but there's too much other stuff in the way? Lighting may help find those items lost at the back.
✨ Another option is clear plastic lunch boxes or ice cream containers to hold all those odds and ends that end up tossed to the back. Remember to label them clearly.
✨ If you have space in the garage or under the stairs use it to store clothing, blankets or other things you're saving for a future date. Buy large plastic boxes and remember to label them carefully with an itemised list of contents.
✨ Another area is that empty headroom space under the ceiling in the hall. Can hubby build a mezzanine-style shelf for boxes and bags?
✨ Is there space above windows in the kitchen for shelves to house gadgets and appliances?
✨ In the cupboard under the sink install a rod on which to hook spray cleaners.