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It’s not easy to let things go but you can gain so much more when you do.
I donated my wedding dress earlier in the year. I’d been thinking about donating it for some time, but when it came to taking action it was harder than I expected.
My wedding dress was beautiful and held lovely memories but I felt it was wasted and unloved under our bed. I was never going to wear it again and it was bulky. It took up valuable space in our home.
I had decided it was time to let it go months before, but something held me back.
Lots of people feel this way about things they want to move on, so I know I’m not alone. If you experience this, I hope my story and tips will help you.
I last wore my wedding dress in 2008 on our wedding day. That was the first and last time, and it sat in a box under our bed ever since.
It was a beautiful wedding dress. I tried on about 40 before I found this one, and I fell in love with it. I remember buying it in London. And thanks to alterations made by the lovely seamstress, it was the first outfit that truly fitted me. It made me feel fabulous!
For years, I kept my dress because it was special and… that’s what you do isn’t it.
The week after our wedding I arranged for my dress to be dry cleaned and carefully packed up in a beautiful box tied with a bow. Now I could keep it forever!
It cost a lot of money, and it would be a waste to just discard it!
Would it be bad luck to get rid of it? What did it say about my marriage if I wanted to declutter the dress?
And surely, it’s an heirloom. What if I want it in future or my daughter wants to wear it for her wedding? Though, honestly, she’s a child! Who knows whether she’ll want to marry, let alone wear my old thing)?
What can come up when we think about donating precious things?
You may have experienced this. You know it makes sense to let things go. Perhaps you need the space; don’t want things to waste away in your home; or you want less to maintain; store and distract you. But you can’t bring yourself to do it!
It’s upsetting to think that you will no longer have it (although you’ve not used it or looked at it for so long). What if you do want it in future? What if someone else wants it? Sometimes you fear parting with it but can’t put your finger on why.
I had all these feelings!
I had decided it made sense to let my dress go but I was delaying taking action. So what was going on for me?
As a Professional Organiser, I’m familiar with the process, the struggles we experience when considering letting things go and understand the reasons for these. So…
What helped me take action and donate my wedding dress?
When I recognised that I was procrastinating, I knew it what I had to do:
1. List my objectives
I reflected on all the reasons why I wanted to release my dress.
It was in good condition and deserved another bride! We don’t go to formal events so I couldn’t dye and wear it again. In any case it’s not really my style anymore
I wanted it to be enjoyed. I’d only looked at it once in the last 15 years, it was wasted under the bed!
I wanted less to maintain – it was gathering dust and in the way under the bed
I wanted our home to feel clearer and lighter
I wanted to have the opportunity to store items we do use so that our living space can feel calmer
2. Reframe – focus on the gains
I recognised that I was probably experiencing loss aversion; a cognitive bias where we feel the pain of losing more than the pleasure of what we gain.
I was fearful that letting it go would be painful.
So I focused on the gains – for me, the charity, the purchaser (and the dress!).
I would gain:
a lighter bedroom
more space to keep other things that matter (I still have my tiara, photos and lots more items gained more recently that I want to keep)
I no longer have to feel guilty about not wearing or looking at the dress
I don’t have to keep the dress to enjoy the memory.
After doing some research, I discovered a charity that has a specialist bridal store. So there was a good chance that my dress would be enjoyed by an excited new bride-to-be (rather than be cut up to make into other garments). My dress would also help raise much needed funds to help care for hospice patients.
The dress would have another fabulous outing, be loved again and fulfil it’s purpose for a 2nd time.
3. Explore the emotions
When I thought through my feelings, I realised that I was worried that I might miss my dress. I feared I might want to look at it again in future and I wouldn’t be able to do that.
Also, I worried about how much husband and daughter might feel. So I talked about my plan and they were both fine with my choice. They also loved the idea of supporting the charity.
On reflection, the dress also meant represented a childhood memory. I remember my Dad collecting up his pocket change and paying it into a savings account for me. When I left home he gave me the bank book, and I had put that money towards my dress; so it represented his love and care too.
After looking through photos (which made me feel happy and nostalgic) I decided to keep my tiara as a little memento the day. It’s much easier to store!
Finally, I gave myself some time to consider my decision. I took a moment to unpack the dress, hold it, and said goodbye. By this point, a lot of the sad emotions had drifted away, and I knew that donating it was the right thing to do.
Taking action was easier than I expected
Once I’d taken my wedding dress into the shop and walked away, I can honestly say I’ve had no regrets. A few days later I drove past the shop and saw it displayed in the shop window. It was great to see it having another day in the sun! I was glad I was able to release it so that it could be worn by another bride. And I appreciate having more space and less stuff that we never use in our home.
If you are thinking about letting go of a precious item but finding it difficult, here are my Top Tips.
My Top Tips for letting your things go:
Here are some tactics you can use when you are finding it hard to let go.
Consider your objective – what do you want to achieve? List the reasons you want to let go, including what you will gain by doing so
Reframe the decision in terms of what you gain – look for a cause that’s important to you and focus on what you are giving them
Emotions – write down or discuss your feelings, work out what is really concerning you and explore this. Name your feelings and reduce their power. If you need it, allow yourself time to come to terms with your plan (a deadline is helpful)
Consider how to keep the memory alive without keeping bulky items – take photos, make a scrap book, journal, or keep a small piece/item
If you struggle to let things go, it can help to talk it through. A friend or family member may be a good support or talk to a professional organiser for sensitive and impartial support.
As the seasons change your priorities change, so your home should too! Now that the holiday season is over, it’s time to reset for Autumn!
One minute you are digging out your summer wardrobe, having picnics in the park and looking forward to getting away from it all, the next thing, the children are back at school, everyone is back to work so days are full-on, mornings are pressured and you spend more time indoors trying to juggle everything (including hungry children, mounds of laundry and keeping up with tidying and cleaning!).
Before it all becomes too overwhelming, now is a great time to reset your home; to declutter the summer paraphernalia and organise key areas of your home so that daily life flows more easily.
It’s time to get practical! Your home needs to work for you. Now is the time to remove the excess from your functional spaces and organise them so you can access what you need and keep things tidy with ease.
Go for impact!
Focus on the area(s) that will make a big difference to your day. You use these areas daily, your day will run smoothly if you can access everything you need easily, the state of this space can have a really positive impact on how your mood.
Complete one area before you move to another. It’s difficult to complete an area if you try to multitask (which isn’t a thing by the way – the brain can’t multitask, it just swaps between tasks which it’s not very good at doing). Work on one area, if you find things that need to live elsewhere put them to one side (or in a box) to take to other rooms once you’ve finished.
Reset your Hallway
The hallway is your launchpad. It’s the last place you spend time before you leave your home and the first space you see when you come home. When you create a welcoming and functional space that supports you it will have a big impact on the start and end of your day.
Ensure you have homes for the shoes, coats, bags, and items that you need daily. Hang as much as you can, allocate space for each item and use containers for small items such as keys, tissues, wallets, gloves, glasses etc.
Occasional wear, summer coats, and shoes you only wear every now and again should be packed away or live in wardrobes. This is not the place to leave things that aren’t helpful to your mission of leaving or entering the home smoothly each day.
Reset your Kitchen
The heart of the home, it’s also the place where paperwork, bits and bobs, toys, pet paraphernalia, bags, clothes and all manner of other clutter gravitates to.
You visit this room at least three times a day, and probably much more. You’ll likely want to prepare meals, make drinks, clean, do laundry and many other tasks as easily as possible. You spend a lot of time here. You may also eat family meals and spend time with guests, so you want it to feel inviting.
Your reset for this space will include returning items to their homes, recycling/shredding/filing paperwork, packing away picnic sets, decluttering things you no longer use,
Reset your Wardrobe
You wear clothes everyday. When you have a sea of clothes you no longer wear and seasonal items peppering your wardrobe it can make it so difficult to find what you need.
Imagine how much calmer your mornings would be if you could find what you need easily rather than having to spend time rummaging for items you know you have but can’t find.
Keep the floor-drobe at bay by making it super easy to put things away:
Pack up off-season clothes and remove anything no longer fits or doesn’t feel great.
Separate clothes into categories such as work, social and occasional items to make it easy to access those items you wear day to day.
Need help to work through your Autumn Reset?
Are you ready to do your Autumn Reset? Download my Quick Reset Checklist to tackle your kitchen, hallway or wardrobe today!
Have you decluttered your home and put aside lots of items to sell, but just haven’t gotten around to putting them up for sale yet?
These things pile up in the corner, cluttering up your living space or filling your spare bedroom.
Wanting to sell items can become a barrier to removing them from your home and this type of clutter can be so annoying because you’re clear that you no longer want them, but haven’t been able to move them on.
Let’s get you started with my quick guide to selling your decluttered things.
A regular, quick declutter is the perfect way to keep on top of the clutter that can build up and make it difficult to find the things you need and feel relaxed in your home.
The process of taking a proper look around; acknowledging the things you love and us, and passing on the things you don’t, relieves your home of the weight of clutter.
I’m always learning about decluttering
I snatched a day during the Christmas holidays and roped my family into a ‘quick declutter’ to freshen-up the house. I’ve been doing this professionally for a while, but every day is a school day (as they say). I learned a thing or two and thought you’d like to learn from my own experience!
What did we do?
I planned in some family decluttering time for one of the days during the holidays and convinced my husband and daughter to join me. I put aside 1 hour to do a quick dash around to pick up things from surfaces, shelves, etc that we thought hadn’t been used/enjoyed in a while. Not only did we focused on our own things but also others family members too. (I try to regularly declutter so didn’t think we would find much)!
We put everything on the lounge rug and agreed to review it together to ensure that we were all happy to donate the items we’d gathered.
What was the result of our declutter?
We were really quite thorough and took twice as long to gather up items as we expected. However we found lots to review. I was surprised that we more than filled the lounge rug!
After a short review, it didn’t take long to fill bags and pop it all the car ready to drop off at a charity shop the following day. And a family movie night was a great reward for everyone involved!
What did we learn about decluttering?
Timeframe – We didn’t think it would take long to gather a few bits from about the house but in the end we went deeper. Our hunt included looking inside cupboards, under beds etc. Because we were on holiday, we were able to dedicate a little more time than initially planned. Use a timer or focus on one room to restrict your declutter activity, if you don’t have much time, are worried that you will get carried away or make a mess
Fresh pair of eyes– family members could spot items that they’d not seen the others use/enjoy for a while. This brought a new perspective which was really helpful. If you don’t have someone else available to help, imagine you are a visitor and ask when were items last used
Teamwork – our daughter was easily distracted when she went to look in rooms alone. Consider working as a team in the same room to help keep each focused on the task
Focus on what is enjoyed and used, release what is not.My daughter hadn’t used some things for a while but decided she still loved them. These provided a useful contrast to other items that she no longer needed. It can help you focus on what is important, and also what is not, and can therefore be released, when you take things out to really look at them
Engage everyonein what to do and why we are doing it. You can’t force others get involved, but you can engage them in the benefits they’ll enjoy; space to play or do activities; to store and find things they need; calm relaxing environment. Plan ahead, discuss the benefits, the plan of action and plan something nice as a reward for everyone
It was well worth it!– It was worth dedicating some time and energy. We took the time to check-in with ourselves regarding what was important; decluttered lots of items we no longer needed; supported a local charity shop and improved out home! Don’t put it off!
Are you ready for a quick declutter? Go on, give it a try!
If you’d like any help with decluttering and organising your home, I’m here for you.