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How to reduce your “stuff” for a move, for a better life

Do you ever look around your home and wonder sheepishly – where did all this stuff come from?

One of the best ways to jumpstart this conversation is to plan a move.  The first stage is tidying up and streamlining each room in preparation for selling your home.  This is usually when we first start to see our “stuff”.  Next comes shopping for a new home, and trying to imagine fitting everything you own into a new home.  Last, the actual packing and moving of your belongings from one location to another.  At each stage, we need to shake our heads and really question what we save, and what we let go of.

We’re in the process of moving, and we are about midway through the whole transition.  We have already sold our home, so we went through and organized rooms, threw out obvious garbage, and donated clothing and many things not in good enough shape to sell.  But now as we shop for a new home, I can see we will likely be making a list of things to sell and leave behind.  It will be the best way to ensure we can fit into a new home, and also that we don’t carry too much with us that doesn’t belong in our life anymore.

Are you facing this transition?  Or simply wish you could reduce what you have in your current home?

First, get your kids out of the house for a day or two if you can.  You can move faster without them.  Your first task is to get rid of everything that you know can go quickly – the things that don’t carry any emotional weight with them.  Room by room, toss anything that is obvious garbage – empty the wastebaskets, shred and remove office paper, toss any dying or wilted plants.  Go through looking for anything you can easily dispose of:  I found a few holiday items taking up most of one of my top kitchen cupboards.  That’s space you need!  Extra recycling, empty bottles, newspapers, magazines, anything that can go immediately should be removed.  At this stage, you can also pull out items that wouldn’t likely sell: I found bags of clothing that I was happy to donate to a charity, and we purged a few items that were broken and unlikely to ever be repaired.

Next, streamline what is left over by going through each room and trying to imagine it through someone else’s eyes.  Try to leave each room as clear and empty as possible – if there are a few things left behind that still look untidy, find them a home.  Put books on shelves, hide remotes in an attractive box, put away all shoes and jackets.  Tuck away appliances you don’t use every day, and find a home for everything you are choosing to leave out.  It is amazing how much we allow ourselves to ignore in our homes when we are living in them.  Simply committing to clearing away this everyday clutter can make a huge difference in how clean and spacious our homes will look.

At this stage, your home should look clean and ready to sell.  But you aren’t done yet!  We are at this stage now, and having sold our home it would be easy to stop and assume we are done.  But as we walk through the homes we are considering buying, I am realizing that we will likely live much better in them if we can just leave a portion of our belongings behind. I love some of our furniture, and there are wall hangings and pictures I can’t imagine parting with.  But I know there are a few boxes we haven’t looked in since our last move, and I also can see we’ll have difficulty making everything fit in a new home.

So we still have work to do!  We will be getting rid of one furniture set, some dishes and household items, a home gym, and more.  We’ll be selling what we can, perhaps donating more.  I also have faced what I have been putting off:  our baby gear.  I have everything from both our kids and I am sure we will be able to pare all of this down greatly.  I have gone through and made a list of baby items we’d be ready to let go of, and also gathered up all of my maternity wear.  We’ll end up keeping a few outfits from each of our children, I’m sure, and perhaps a few favourite comfort items or wee shoes.  These are sweet memories and I won’t want to let them go.  But if we are deliberate about it, we can choose our favourites and create a space for them in each child’s closet rather than simply keeping it all.

The truth is that our “stuff” can often bog us down and create more work as we constantly rearrange and care for it.  List what you want to get rid of on a used site, and watch space open up in your home and in your mind.  Clutter is distracting, and it can feel very freeing to have it gone for good.

So wish us luck as we continue to purge and reduce what we own!  I have my eye on a couple of houses, and we’ll breathe easier if we only bring what we really love.

Speaking of things we love…I’m hanging on to my favourite wooden wine rack and wine crates.  Yes, they take up room, but they will help make any home just that much more “ours”.  So they are on my “to keep” list.

What could you let go of, if you really tried?  What might you gain if you did?

And what is on your “to keep” list?




Writer, editor, recovering chocoholic. Most often found writing, drinking coffee, and chasing kids. Find her on Twitter @littlemissmocha.

2 Responses to “How to reduce your “stuff” for a move, for a better life”

Lala Wawa

another way to do this is to overlap your move in move out dates so you can move out only what you need and get rid of what gets left behind. I took possession of a new rental property on the first and am renting a dumpster to deal with what is left behind. No, I’m not a hoarder but they say you expand to fill your space and I was in a 4brm home with 2 living rooms and I’m moving to a tiny late 1900s home with only 3 bdrms.
Sorting the toys when the kids are staying with their dad is a huge help too.



I keep anything with a story behind it. Old photos, books, fossils dug up on a family hike; however, we’re a purging family. Knick knacks are not welcome and we do a yearly triage of the kids’ stuff – with their help.


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