101 in 1001, Decluttering, Homemaking, Minimalism, Motherhood

What I Learned From Decluttering 1,001 Things {Final Decluttering Report}

If you’re new to this series, in 2021 I’ve been working on decluttering 1,001 items from our home as part of one of my goals for my 101 in 1001 list. Back in 2013, I did a massive decluttering project I called 50 Weeks to Organized, where we got rid of approximately 50% of our belongings. Since that time, however, we’ve added 3 kids to our family and have acquired a LOT more stuff (which was helped along by the fact that we moved from a small apartment into a house), so it’s definitely time to part with a lot more. We ended up getting rid of a decent amount before the two moves our family made in 2020, but we still have a long way to go before our house is streamlined and free of stuff we no longer use or want.

Well, as the title has already given away—we reached our goal of decluttering 1,001 items from our home! (You’ll actually see below that we exceeded that goal.) In all honesty, for the first 75% of the challenge, I really didn’t notice that much of a difference in our home. Perhaps it was because many of the items I was getting rid of were behind closed doors, or they were things that we’d never really unpacked from our moving boxes. However, this last wave of items that we just decluttered has made a HUGE difference, which has infused the project with even more motivation. I’ll detail more about why below, but for now, here’s the breakdown of the items:

Full disclosure: Once I knew I’d hit my target number of decluttering 1,001 items, I stopped keeping track of what I was getting rid of. I went on a full-on decluttering binge last week and got rid of a TON, much of which was never recorded. So this list is just comprised of those things from before I stopped counting.

Note: There are affiliate links to products mentioned below.

Items That Have Left Our Home Since June:

  • 7 magazines
  • 1 nursing cover
  • 2 blow dryer attachments
  • 1 bath gel
  • 77 children’s books
  • 2 beach balls
  • 2 winter coats
  • 58 toys (major lowball estimate)
  • 30 books
  • 1 SD card reader
  • 1 seed catalog
  • 1 pair of swim floaties
  • 3 blankets
  • 2 spare crib sheets
  • 7 cookbooks
  • 3 cardigans
  • 2 shirts
  • 1 towel
  • 1 boom box c.d. player

Total for June through mid-July: 202 items

Grand Total: 1,055 Items

The Newborn Stuff

I’ve addressed this in an earlier post in the decluttering series, but us getting rid of newborn stuff doesn’t mean we’re done having kids. Rather, it means that because we’ve now gone through babyhood with 3 kids, we know much more about what things we actually use and love, and which things are just going to collect dust. For example, I pretty much never use a nursing cover, partly because I very, very rarely have to nurse in a public place, and secondly, I just wear a loose top that pretty much keeps everything under wraps when I do (and am pretty much only around other women, usually other nursing mothers). Some of the blankets we parted with during this round were also baby blankets because I was clearly able to see which were used and loved and special, and which ones we could do without.

Just Because the Kit Came With It, Doesn’t Mean You Need to Keep It

Here’s a big “permission slip” I had to give myself—it is OKAY to get rid of the parts of a set or kit that you don’t use. Example? My blow dryer attachments. Several years ago, I bought myself this blow dryer (which I love, btw) because of its excellent reviews and reasonable price, and it came with a few different attachments, such as a diffuser or that funnel-looking thing that’s supposed to narrow the airflow to a more streamlined flow. (Obviously I’m a hair expert over here.) Here’s the thing—because so many other people SWEAR by their use of a diffuser/hair product/funnel-looking attachment thing, I was convinced that I should keep mine for that elusive day — somewhere down the line — when I would suddenly start caring about doing my hair in new and exciting ways and would want the exact tools to get me there.

Well, spoiler alert—I think I used the diffuser twice and the funnel thing never, and my life has functioned just fine in spite of that fact. So I gave myself permission to just get rid of all the attachments I wasn’t using, and it has freed me up to do the same in other areas, including kid’s play sets where all the pieces weren’t being utilized.

The Turning Point

As mentioned above, it took me many months (and many, many items) before I started to notice any kind of “difference” in our home. There are a couple of theories I have about this. The first theory is the one that the average American household has something like 300,000 items in it, so OF COURSE getting rid of 1,000 isn’t going to make that big of a difference — you’ve only gotten rid of 0.33% of your stuff!

My second theory is that, as mentioned above, many of the items I was getting rid of at the start were not items in the general living areas of our home—they were those things that were still in moving boxes, those things tucked away in closets and drawers, those things in the Room-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named (aka, the storage room in the basement where things go to never be seen or heard from again). Because those items were not out in the open to begin with, it didn’t really make our home “feel” that different to have them gone, unless I happened to be in that particular closet/drawer/room area. However, the real tipping point came just this last week — after 7 months of near-constant decluttering efforts! — when I finally had had enough with the playroom, which is definitely one of the more visible and the more used rooms in our house.

Now, I’ve written posts in the past about how I usually bring my children along for the decluttering ride so that they learn those skills for themselves, learn to think of others and be generous with their possessions, and so that they don’t get too attached to material things. Throughout the entire journey so far, pretty much all of the kids’ stuff that had been donated had been stuff that they themselves had chosen to part with. However, our playroom got so very out of control this past month that I could tell the kids were too overwhelmed by it all to even make decisions about it anymore—they were too overwhelmed to even play in there! So I decided to do nightly stealth declutters for a week, in the which I got rid of probably at least a third (maybe even half) of the toys that had been there.

To prep myself for the decluttering, I watched a ton of YouTube videos from The Minimal Mom and Natalie Bennett about strategies for streamlining kids’ toys, and I used their strategies to make sure that I didn’t overthink things too much (or feel too much guilt when I literally was getting rid of about a third of the things we’d just bought them the last Christmas or two). A few things that helped the most: 1) reminding myself of the toys that they ACTUALLY played with over and over again, and 2) deciding on a few general “categories” of things to keep (ponies, play food/dishes, cars and vehicles, Legos, dress-ups, things for “playing house,” and art supplies) and basically getting rid of everything else that didn’t fit one of those categories (or at least coming up with some really solid reasons for why I was keeping it). I also wanted to get rid of many of the things that had a million little pieces that kept getting strewn all over the house since that was one of the most stressful things about the toys for me.

And you guys—the look on the kids’ faces as they saw their newly clean and organized play room was PRICELESS. For weeks, they’d struggled to even really play in there (how could they? it was a mass of chaos that overwhelmed literally anyone that came within sight of it), but now that I’ve gotten rid of so much, they have played SO much better and for SO much longer every single day since. We don’t do a ton of screen time in our house, but I’d noticed that over the past several weeks, when the playroom was still crazy, they were asking me constantly to watch movies and shows because they didn’t know what else to do. Now that the playroom has been cleared, there have been several days when t.v. hasn’t been mentioned at all, and it’s now the first place they usually want to spend time in the morning.

And the best part? It’s now been over a week since I’ve done The Big Clean-Out, and the playroom has actually STAYED tidy. Even when the kids pull out a bunch of stuff, it hardly takes any time at all for them to put it back again, and now that there actually IS a set place for everything, they’re having an easier time (understandably) with actually putting things back.

I cannot tell you what a relief it has been to have that space be about 1,000% better than it was before.

The playroom today, right after I told the kids to pick it up. While not perfect, this is how clean it is after just 10 minutes of them working on it, with almost zero input from me. This never could have happened a couple weeks ago!

Just For Fun

You all know I love me some data and nerdy spreadsheeting, so I thought it would be fun to break down the 1,055 items I’ve deceluttered into general categories and see how much of certain things we got rid of. (Of course, this isn’t even all that we got rid of, but just everything I wrote down and tracked. There were for sure at least two boxes that got donated in the middle of the process where the contents had been accidentally deleted from my phone, and for this last round, once I knew I’d hit my 1,001 target, I stopped counting.) But even with that little side note, the data is still pretty interesting:

  • 38% of the items we got rid of were books (400 total, at least 175 of which were children’s)
  • About 22% of the items we got rid of were clothing and shoes (228 items)
  • Nearly 17% of the items (179) were toys, games, and stuffed animals

So there you go—almost 80% of the things we got rid of fell into one of the three categories of books, clothing, or toys. Pretty crazy!

So What’s Next?

Similar to how I felt after the 50 Weeks to Organized project was over, I feel a bit addicted to the simplification process. Once I finally saw a big difference with something that was causing me daily stress (the playroom), now I want to see if I can do it with other areas as well.

At any rate, I know I’m not “done” yet.

Not even close.

However, I might be “done” with this style of post, mostly just because it takes extra work to record every single thing I’m getting rid of, which can sometimes mess with my momentum when I’m really on a roll. I think a really fun way to keep me on track would be to do before/after posts of major declutters, which I might take on, if I can ever remember to take the “before” pictures.

What do you think? Has this series been helpful? Motivating? Would you like to see before/after posts of major decluttering projects? Let me know your thoughts!

Liked this post? Then you'll probably also like...