“If it doesn’t have a purpose, it doesn’t have a place in this house,” is a direct quote from a fellow military wife told me not too long ago. She has been the wife of a Marine for a lot longer than I have and has moved many, many times because of the Marine Corps. Once, she even had to move three houses down the street while living on base because they wanted to renovate the place she was currently living. When I told her that we were just at our first duty station, she spent a solid 15 minutes at a book club meeting expressing to me the importance of being ready to move and how I need to get my house free from “stuff” and learn to just “let it go.” Two things that I’m not good at for sure, but she gave me some great advice.
The first bit of advice was to let everything in the house have a six month maximum shelf life. If you have not used it, looked at it, or thought about it in six months, it has got to go. I literally gasped at this notion, but she said to trust her and to try to keep my sentimental values down. Having a six month shelf life on items means you have to donate the thing, no matter what it is, if it isn’t serving a purpose in your life right now and if it hasn’t been active in six months, then it obviously doesn’t serve a purpose. This all makes sense. This is how she is able to move all of the time and able to stay relatively calm when they tell her to pack it all up because you are moving down the street. Because of her de-cluttered lifestyle, she packing and unpacking is nearly a simple weekend project.
The second thing she told me to take note of was to purchase functional things. I stared at her like a deer in the headlights on this one until she explained that we should only purchase items of good quality that would sustain a move, purchase furniture that had built in storage, and get things for our house that were not specific to living in that house (like buying a giant dining room table because your next house might not even have a dining room, let alone a giant one). She said that cheap furniture is a nice temporary solution, but you’ll just have to re-buy it every time you move and that it was a waste in the long run. My favorite part of this was the idea of buying storage ready furniture. She told me her bed has storage drawers and she is a huge fan of purchasing decorative trunks because they can hold so much stuff. All coffee tables, night stands, and end tables should have drawer space in them so you can keep your things confined.
A lot of what she told me is still sinking. I like to keep my things and have sentimental attachment to everything. I did however take a serious look around my house and did find a lot of things to donate. We are trying to do the six month max rule, but I have a feeling that it might be a one year rule for me. She has great points on de-cluttering a home and great ideas for practical living. I will most certainly take her advice whenever we purchase something for any place we are living and will strive to be as move ready as she is some day.