Got stuff? I know I do. I have old stuff, new stuff, shiny stuff, used stuff, decorative stuff, useless stuff and most importantly a whole bunch of “got to get rid of” stuff. We all have stuff. I am learning to hate stuff. My house is full of stuff that I had to have. Stuff that cost money. Stuff that if I never owned my life would be exactly the same.

At the beginning of 2015, I started a small task management business to help out busy families in my community. Working long hours followed by sports and activities leaves little time for quality family time. We have no time to do the annoying little tasks that hang over our head each and every week. That’s where I come in. I am blessed to have met so any new and interesting people with my business. I have done a variety of jobs including: dropping items off, taking a car in for service, giving someone a ride to an appointment, delivering cupcakes and even helping set up for a wedding. One of my favorite services is getting rid of stuff.

I absolutely love when I get a phone call from someone asking for help cleaning out their home. Usually they call me when they have given up. It’s emotionally overwhelming for many people to tackle these types of projects. They walk into a disorganized room and instantly become anxiety ridden. They end up walking out, shutting the door and avoiding the mess. I don’t blame them. It’s not easy looking at all the things you have accumulated over the years. Some of it is sentimental but a lot of it is… you guessed it… just stuff.

I am not a professional organizer. However, I do like to organize. I blame my undiagnosed OCD. It gives me such a great feeling to help people realize they are not alone when it comes to being disorganized. I met with a new client this week. She lives alone and her house had been neglected for some time. She accumulated a lot of things over the years and it was taking over her life. As we walked around the house she explained to me why her home was in such need of attention. Often people just want to be heard. They talk and I listen. I do not judge because I think we are all one bad event away from needing a helping hand.

I wanted to take a moment to remind everyone that life is so much more than the stuff we own. Don’t get me wrong, I like to shop. I like nice things. But just stop and think for a moment: if your home were to catch on fire what would you grab? Most of us would save our family not the items in our house. Most things are replaceable. Family is not. Even if your photos are lost your memories are not.

My goal this winter is to simplify my home with the following tips I give to my clients.

1. Choose one room at a time as not to overwhelm.

2. Set aside one day a week to work on your room even if only for a couple hours.

3. Make four piles: Keep, Donate, File and Trash.

4. Donate immediately. This may require weekly visits to Goodwill.

5. Take the trash out immediately and don’t look back!

6. Take pictures of your kids art work. Save your favorite pieces in a portfolio.

7. Before you shop STOP and ask yourself if you really need it and can you get it second hand. (I donate to and shop at Goodwill. Upcycling is a great form of recycling.)

8. Invest in storage bins and a label machine. Labeling is so important.

9. Once a room is completed do not bring anything new into it.

10. Every time you shop for new clothes, donate clothes you are not currently wearing.

11. Get started. That’s half the battle.

Put on your favorite music, pour yourself a glass of spirits and relax. Your stuff isn’t going anywhere (unfortunately) so just do a little each week.

You got this!

Kathy Rau

Kathy is raising four beautiful children with her husband, Mark. She loves living in the historic area of Fredericksburg, VA. For over 20 years, Kathy has been a Licensed Veterinary Technician and currently works part time in emergency and radioiodine medicine. Kathy runs a small business called Your Girl Friday, FXBG. Kathy has been blogging for less then a year but loves to share her stories. She has been published on Her View From Home, The Mighty, America Adopts and has had a variety of other guest posts. Her niche is Motherhood, Friendship and Adoption. You can find Kathy at: IG: krau67 Twitter: @kathyrau Facebook: Your Girl Blogs.