We’ve just gone through practically the whole house, including the loft, getting rid of things we don’t want or need any more. We didn’t intend to do the whole lot – it just seemed to snowball from one room to the next. De-cluttering and making space. Children’s books; old lego models; games; annuals; DVDs; clothes; jigsaws; toys.


It all started because we’re having an extension to the back of the house later this year. So we wanted to make sure we had no extra clutter to move around when that time arrived. But there was something so deeply satisfying about seeing growing piles of stuff go to charity shops / relatives / getting sold on ebay. So we kept going.

What to let go of?

What was interesting was that (almost ten years after leaving) we were ready to get rid of some of the things we have kept from our time in Kyrgyzstan such as books written in Kyrgyz. Other things, such as mementoes, we didn’t want to part with yet. They still have sentimental value – and may always have. We kept a pile of favourite children’s books, toys and DVDs too, which we can for-see being used again in the future. They didn’t need to be thrown away just for the sake of thinning down.

It got me thinking – what about our lives? Maybe this is a good time to de-clutter our lives? Not just at the start of a new year, but also when we’re in re-entry.

So let’s have a think about different areas of our lives and see what de-cluttering and making space is possible.

Physical de-cluttering

I guess this is the most obvious one, so here are some questions for you:

  • What things do I need to let go of?
    • Are there things I have now outgrown; that are part of my expat life that I no longer need; or which no longer serve any purpose?
  • What do I need to keep?
    • Are there things I am not yet ready to let go of, that still remind me of aspects of life overseas, or which keep me rooted?
  • What do I need to make space for?
    • Are there new things I need to think about obtaining to help me move forward?
  • What do I need to sort through, unpack or arrange?
    • Are there packed boxes or photos I still need to sort through from my time overseas which would help me feel more settled?

Mental tidying

Just as important as physical, there can be things we have been thinking about which need boxing up, laying down or sorting:

  • What am I unnecessarily dwelling on that I need to let go of?
    • Maybe there are aspects of your time overseas which you keep going over – it may be time to lay them to rest or ask an expert to help you work through them
  • Which thought-patterns that have defined me in some way do I need to relinquish?
    • Sometimes we can get trapped by our thought processes. Which ones do you recognise in you that don’t serve you or those around you?
  • What things are coming up in 2020 that I would like to create mental capacity for?
    • What opportunities are coming up that I would like to be open to?

Emotional de-cluttering

And so to the emotional side of life:

  • Where have I invested energy in 2019 that I want to continue with in 2020?
  • Which aspects of myself and my expat life do I want to keep hold of as I journey through and beyond re-entry?
  • Which aspects do I need to gently let go of?
  • What mind-sets / attitudes would I like to foster during the next phase of my re-entry? Which ones are not serving me?

Social spring cleaning

It may seem like a strange section to add on here, but friendship and social circles are a struggle for many people during re-entry:

  • Where am I spending energy in my relationships, and are they the right people to be investing in?
  • Who do I need to make space for?
  • Who is draining my energy / giving me energy?
  • Which people would I like to get to know this year?

Time to evaluate

These questions are only starters, but I hope they give you food for thought at the start of this new year. If you’re feeling stuck in your re-entry and could do with some accompaniment and support, then get in touch.

Feel free to share stories of your de-cluttering or further questions you have found helpful in your re-entry below in the comments!


15th January 2020