Decluttering with Astrid (33)

Just like a 10-year-old

Ever since I was invited to talk (at an ungodly hour in the middle of the night) about this blog and the topic of decluttering on [Dutch radio station] Qmusic, my 10-year-old son’s interest in the matter has been piqued. After all, if your mother is being interviewed live on radio by a DJ…. One thing’s for sure, at least I rose (a few steps) in his estimation. One night, not long after the interview, when he was already supposed to be fast asleep, I heard all sorts of activity coming from his room, and was then asked for a garbage bag. “Actually, make that two,” he shouted down the hall. When I asked what he was doing, he said “Decluttering.” And when I saw the mountain in the middle of his room, I was seriously impressed. This kid was really great at taking decisive action. In the middle of his room, he had formed a pile of old Donald Duck magazines, picture books, stuffed animals, supermarket promotions, nerf guns, Kapla blocks, an old race track, Playmobil dolls and more. With almost every piece I saw, I cried out: “But this was your favorite book!” Or: “Your beautiful Lego Simpson house! You spent ages saving up for that. You loved it so much.” To which he answered, “Yup, you’re right, but that was then. I don’t play with it any more now.”

And that reminded me of something Marie Kondo declares: No matter how things used to be, we cannot live in the past. The joy and excitement we feel here and now are more important. How many things do we hold on to simply because we once found them nice, or because we once played with them, because we they were a gift from someone. My son had hit the “decluttering philosophy” nail on the head: It is not about “then”, but about “now.”

Of course, being the big softie that I am, I rescued a few things from his pile. Things for later, for the girl who lives next door, for my friend’s kids, for the thrift store, and for the school library. Or did I do it because I thought to myself: Tomorrow, he’ll regret that this has been thrown away.

Anyway, here’s this week’s tip: Declutter like you’re ten years’ old. Ignore emotions when making your decisions. And ignore that inner voice telling you “Who knows when it’ll come in handy.” Now is what counts.

Astrid, together with Irene, is the founder of Flow Magazine. She lives with her partner and two children. Each Tuesday, she writes about the senses – and nonsense – behind decluttering.

“Week 33 – Just like a 10-year-old”