5 great decluttering tips for moving house

We’re moving into our new house in May. And moving is such a great time to declutter!

Here are 5 great, simple tips for decluttering while moving house.

1. Give each of your kids a cardboard box for their stuff.

As long as you’re not moving long distances, you can usually move small personal items yourself, and save a lot of money doing so. So get your kids to put all their personal items they intend to keep in a big box, and everything else out by the front door for charity or sale.

I let my kids keep any money from sold personal items. It really encourages them to clear their items they no longer use! Kids love making money!

I’ve found that inspiring the kids with what their new rooms will look like, and even letting them choose the decor, is really getting them keep to clear out and move. My partner’s daughter is almost as keen on Pinterest now as I am! 🙂

2. Keep a charity box and a “sell” box by the front door.

Sort into one of two boxes as you go. So easy! We like to donate to our local Hospice shop 🙂

Now, create two challenges between the kids of a) who can donate the most items from their room and b) who can throw away the most items from their room. My kids are mercenaries and food or cash prizes are a sure-fire winner! Creating a little friendly competition between the kids can work wonders with motivation.

3. Garage sales and flea markets are great places to declutter.

Some people have enough items to run their own garage sale. I find I can’t be bothered and don’t have enough stuff for a garage sale anyway, so selling through a local flea market works better for me. Check your local council website for markets that might suit you.

One rule: Anything you take to the flea market that doesn’t sell goes to charity at the end of the day. Don’t bring it home with you!

And don’t buy anything!

Photo of New York flea market by IsaFire.

4. Clothing can be checked over while clearing out.

We’re getting our kids to check all their clothing for size and wear while we’re clearing out. It makes sense. Don’t bring items that don’t fit or are in poor shape with you when you move!

If you haven’t tried it yet, you might want to consider giving The Project 333 a go, and try living with a minimalist wardrobe in your new home. Check it out: The Project 333.

I’ve been living with a minimalist wardrobe for three years now, and could never go back to a wardrobe bursting at the seams!

5. Play the “Packing Party” when you move!

Only take out what you need, as you need it, when you arrive. You might be surprised how little of your personal items you actually use! So why not have a “packing party” now you actually have to pack? Here’s a link: The packing party.

9 benefits of having a capsule wardrobe

I’ve been doing The Project 333 a full year now.

Here are 9 benefits that having a capsule wardrobe has given me:

1. I’m happier with my body. I don’t have a perfect body. Who does? But by not feeling like I have to religiously follow and fit into fashion, I’m instead choosing what works for me, with the body I have, right here and now. This has led to greater acceptance of who and what I am. I feel free.

2. I know what I need. “Gaps” in my wardrobe become immediately obvious. When I started out, I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t wearing my lovely vintage shirts. Turned out, it was because I had no jeans that comfortably fit (duh!). But because I had so many clothes, I couldn’t figure this out.

3. I wear everything. There’s no wastage. Everything that is in my wardrobe and drawers fits me, looks good, is comfortable, and gets worn.

4. I make fewer mistakes. Sure, I still make some mistakes. If an item doesn’t get worn, it’s immediately obvious as I don’t have that many clothes to start with. And because I have fewer clothes, I’m seeing patterns and trends in what I like and feel comfortable wearing. Which leads on to…

5. I’ve developed my own sense of style, and I don’t follow fashion so much any more. I don’t feel the need to have “must have” items when I know they won’t suit me. For example, horizontal stripe tops are “in”. But I know they won’t suit me, so I won’t be buying. I still look current, I’m just not “trendy”.

6. Having a smaller wardrobe has taught me what I like and what I think looks good. I’ve learned, for example, that I don’t wear scarves, jewelry and accessories. I like to keep things simple. I also like real leather handbags, belts and shoes – fake doesn’t do it for me. The backbone of my wardrobe is lovely vintage shirts and dresses, supported by leather jackets, boots and bags, denim jeans and leggings.

7. I spend less, and spend more wisely. I’ve learned where to spend money and where to buy cheap. Dresses I buy cheap. T-shirts I buy cheap. Leggings I buy cheap. Shoes, jackets and belts I spend and buy quality. Overall I am spending a lot less on clothing, and my clothes are getting greater wear.

8. I’m less stressed. I don’t worry about having anything to wear, because everything in my wardrobe fits me and is wearable. Despite having fewer items, I have more to wear than I ever did before. I know I can pull anything out of my wardrobe, and it will feel great and look good.

9. Space! I have space in my wardrobe and drawers, and can see everything I own. This is so refreshing.

If you haven’t tried The Project 333, it’s worth having a go. I’d never have thought that little ole shopaholic me would have settled in to having a capsule wardrobe, but now I can’t imagine things any other way.

My capsule wardrobe, whose backbone is a range of vintage shirts, which I support with basic black and brown. Having less works so well for me.

My capsule wardrobe, whose backbone is a range of vintage shirts, which I support with basic black and brown. Having less works so well for me.

Ask yourself the hard questions.

Look at what you own. Take the time to just look at it. Properly. Then ask yourself…

  • Is this item important to me?
  • Does this item give me joy?
  • Is this thing useful?
  • Am I keeping this thing in my life because of guilt or responsibility to someone else?
  • Would I buy this again, if I could make the decision over?
  • Would I choose this role in my life again, if I had the choice to do so?
  • Would I choose this friendship, or this relationship again, if I had to?
  • Would I choose this job again, if I had the choice?
  • Would I buy this house / this car / this boat / this thing again, if I could do it over?
  • Would I want all this stuff in my life if I could avoid it all?
  • If I could make everything just go away, would I? If so, does any of it actually bring me happiness?
  • Would I choose to live in this town, this city, this country if I could live somewhere else?

Your life is the sum of the decisions you make.

Isn’t it time you made sure the decisions you make bring you real joy and peace?


The guilt of gifts and the burden of mathoms

My relatives like to give gifts. I come from a gift-giving family.

What this has meant over my life is that I’ve received a LOT of gifts which I’ve felt pressured by my family to keep and look after. I’ve done so meticulously. As the only daughter in the family I’ve also been the recipient of anything designated an heirloom.

I’ve received everything from dinnersets to diamond rings. While it’s all beautiful stuff, and much of it quite valuable I suppose, it has become an albatross around my neck.

Yes, I keep coming back to that albatross, don’t I?


Because I never asked for any of this stuff to come to me. I didn’t ask for any of it. Worse still, because it was all heirlooms and belonged to people who are important to me and meant something special to them, I felt like I couldn’t sell it. Often I felt like I couldn’t even use it.

What if I broke a cake plate of Aunty Grace’s fifty year old afternoon tea set? What if I wore Grandma’s diamond ring and the stone came loose and was lost?

I’d never forgive myself.

I had not only my own lifetime’s worth of stuff piled upon me, but everyone else’s stuff piled on me too. It weighed me down. It felt heavy. Maybe right now you’re thinking how fortunate I am to have inherited and been given beautiful things, and how ungrateful I am to not appreciate them. I do appreciate them, really I do. Or I tried to.

But everywhere I went, the stuff had to go with me. I had to insure it. I had to transport it. I had to worry over it. I had to store it. I had to buy furniture for it to house it. It stopped being gifts and started being a curse a long, long time ago.

“I’ve realised the only person who could free me from my family’s expectations was myself.”

So this year, after a long time reflecting on it all, I decided that it was time for my family’s mathoms and I to part ways.

My aunt's tea set. It's on sale now, and if after three weeks it doesn't sell, it will go to the charity shop.

My aunt’s tea set. It’s on sale now, and if after three weeks it doesn’t sell, it will go to the charity shop.

If you love someone, let them go

It has been hard to let all these things, this stuff, go. I felt guilt the first time I sold a teapot at a Trash and Treasure that my mother gave me. I didn’t want it, I’d never wanted it, but she’d given it to me anyway. When she found out it was gone she was very hurt, and the guilt I felt was awful. I felt like I’d failed her – over a teapot!

I’ve been working through all these emotions and guilt associated with all this stuff and I’ve come to understand that whether my family dump guilt on me for getting rid of all this stuff or not, it’s not fair or reasonable for them to do so. It was all given to me, I’ve offered it all back and it’s been refused, so as far as I’m concerned it’s going out the door.

If you love someone, you can’t love them with strings attached. You can’t make them guilty over teapots.

Everyone makes decisions we don’t agree with. That’s what people do. Deal with it.

Finding my own freedom

I feel better now these heirlooms and gifts have started to move on to new homes. The only things I’m keeping are items of use and items I find personally beautiful and meaningful. I’m simplifying my life and the amount of possessions I own, and I feel like I’m opening the doors and windows to a very musty, dark old room for the first time in a long, long while.

I feel like a weight has lifted from my shoulders. I’ve realised that the only person who could free myself from my family’s expectations was myself. They couldn’t free me. I had to do it.

Letting go can be difficult, but the freedom and sense of lightness is so worth it. 

Organize – or declutter?

The whole process of organization has become a major industry.

You can even employ people to come and organize your wardrobe, your kitchen, your whole home. There are shops dedicated to providing exactly the right type of storage for your stuff – big plastic crates, or you can go for more “earthy” wicker boxes.

But has it even occurred to you that maybe you don’t need all that stuff at all?

My decluttering began when we repainted my daughter’s room. To do so, we had to remove everything she owned, and it suddenly occurred to me – did we really have to put everything back again? Most of it was toys she hardly used. Most of the clothes she hardly wore.

So we put just her favourite items back, and her favourite clothes, and bundled the rest into plastic garbage bags in the shed. They never came back in the house again, and eventually made their way to charity and second hand sales.

Her room inspired me to do my son’s, then the living room (those throw cushions went out the door!) then finally my own room. It was like a breath of fresh air! We all found that we were happier with less stuff. Even the kids.

If you need special crates and organisation schemes to keep your stuff tidy, you have too much stuff.

If you don’t have enough cupboard space, you have too much stuff.

If your kitchen is too small, you have too much stuff.

Simplify it all, lead a life with fewer belongings, and watch your freedom and happiness grow.


Simple clothing for kids: 7 money saving tips

I’m a HUGE fan of school uniforms. While they’re often expensive to pay for in the initial outlay, they save massive amounts of money in the long run.

My daughter is still wearing her uniform (two sets) that we bought her at the start of last year, as is my son. Two sets of school uniform apiece keeps both kids dressed through five days of the week, which we can onsell once they’re outgrown? Brilliant!

School uniform…plus…?

Apart from school uniform, kids really don’t need much in the way of clothes, and I think it is foolhardy to buy them a lot.

More clothes just means more maintenance – more washing, sorting, storing and, eventually, passing on – and all this without even taking into account the initial cost of the stuff.

So what do kids really need in their wardrobes? Here’s my list:

Son, age 9

Two sets of school uniform
School shoes

Warm winter hat
Crocs (we buy the nameless brand at the discount store)

Two pair long trousers
Two pair shorts
Three t-shirts
Two jackets / hoodies
One warm jacket

Socks, underwear
Two pair light pyjamas
Two onesies.

Daughter, age 7

Same as above apart from the addition of one summer dress.

Everyone’s lists will vary depending on climate and needs etc., but kids really don’t need a lot. Most of the items in the lists, as I’ll explain below, last several seasons if you buy them right.

I use a few tricks to save money with kids clothing…

Buy large to last more than one season. I tend to buy on the large side, to get a couple of seasons (or more) out of each item. This pretty much cuts clothing costs in half. About the only thing I can’t do this with is shoes (although gumboots I can), but shoes don’t tend to last more than a few months anyway.

Pass items on through children where possible. Most of my daughter’s school uniform, being unisex, has come from her brother. We then sell it secondhand on to another family through the school. She has also inherited various t-shirts, onesies and hoodies from time to time.

Buy unisex items that can cross genders in your kids and be passed on. BUT – be cautious with crossing genders – clothing is so gendered these days that only a few items for sale are genuinely unisex. Great places to shop for unisex t-shirts include Etsy, Snorg T-shirts and Headline T-shirts.

Buy onesies to stretch pyjama wear. I bought very oversized warm onsesies for the kids to wear in bed over their pyjamas in winter. That way, they can wear the same pyjamas all year round while staying warm, and they don’t need dressing gowns, as the onesies keep them warm while they’re watching TV or playing computer games on weekend mornings.

Onesies keep my kids warm all winter.

Onesies keep my kids warm all winter.

Buy basics at discount stores, and t-shirts that are more “designer”. Other kids don’t notice where my kids’ trousers come from, but they’re already fashion-savvy enough to pick a designer t-shirt. So I buy discount jeans and trousers, and designer / trendy t-shirts. I buy the designer / trendy stuff at end-of-season sales, or ask grandparents to buy for gifts.

Ugg boots (from discount stores) work better for kids than slippers. And crocs work better than flip flops. Ugg boots really keep my kids’ feet warm in winter – they wear them all around the house, and are less likely to slip over. Same for crocs – they’re a much better choice for summer footwear than flip flops, and come in some really cute styles for kids.

My daughter lives in her mock crocs (similar to the pink ones above) all summer!

My daughter lives in her mock crocs (similar to the pink ones above) all summer!

Crocs (or mock crocs) also triple up as beach shoes, shoes for the swimming pool and shoes for the playground. They’re really adaptable, and so much safer than flip flops. I’m a big fan.

Cut off jeans into shorts. Turn winter’s outgrown jeans into summer’s shorts – cut them off. For girls’ styles, turn the edges over and stitch, for boys’ styles just leave them to get ragged and grunge looking.

Can you think of other ways to keep kid clothing simple and affordable?