Monday, January 28, 2013

Stuff Overload!

Several months ago we renewed our membership during a trip to the zoo, and a couple weeks later my husband was reading the mail and said, "If we'd renewed our zoo membership with this offer we could have saved $10.00 and gotten a free backpack."

My response?

"I would pay $10.00 not to get the free backpack!"

Because that's the point we've gotten to, folks.  There is so much stuff coming into this house on a daily basis that I can't even shovel it out fast enough before more comes in (not to mention the difficulty getting the numerous packratish people who live in this house to agree to part with anything)!  And we had too much to begin with!

The longer I manage my home and the more children I have, the more I've realized, LESS REALLY IS MORE!  Less is better.

My 4 children can have 28 coloring/workbooks or they can have 4.  

Let me tell you what happens when you have 28.  They overflow the drawer so you give it all another drawer (by cramming the contents of that drawer somewhere else that is already overflowing with stuff), the children strew the activity books all around and have to be reminded often to put them away, the books will stick around for months, years even, with a handful of pages colored/completed.

Or you can have 4, 1 for each child.  The workbooks easily fit into 1 drawer.  There are only 4 books to scatter and the children are more likely to put them away because hello?  THIS IS MY ONLY COLORING BOOK, I'd better take care of it!  And the entire book gets filled up/used and can then be thrown away and replaced with another!

Really, it is so obvious I have no idea why I've had so much trouble with this concept!  And this is also why I'm blogging about this topic because I'm hoping to preserve this wisdom for my children and they can start off as grown-ups better than I did.

But, it happens pretty innocently and only in hindsight can you see that the clutter is a result of millions of daily decisions (or lack of decisions).

For example, a couple years ago when at the end of the year the school secretary stopped me in the halls and offered to give me many free unused workbooks, I wish I'd thanked her, loaded them into my car and driven them directly to a shelter or children's clinic or somewhere besides thinking, "This is great, these will keep my kids keep busy over the summer!"  And then stacking them in my under-the-stairs closet where they sat for TWO YEARS as clutter!

We are a family of 6 people and 1 dog living in 2576 square feet.  That ought to be doable.  Certainly compared to the majority of the world, our house is huge!  But if we don't stay on top of our stuff, it is going to take over the house and squeeze out all hope of peaceful life! I do not want a bigger house.  I want less stuff in the house we already have!

With that rant and background out of the way, let me say simply, I've been cleaning out. . .

for the past 5 years since we moved in here 6 years ago!  But, really, truly in earnest this time!  With a "nearly everything has got to go" mindset.

I'm at the point now a few weeks into this mission where I've lost count of the bags and boxes we've donated, the bags we've thrown away, yet there is still too much!  It's frustrating.  Last week I went through bins and bins of baby and toddler clothes we'd saved for hand-me-downs.  Only I saved way too much!  "We could clothe an entire orphanage of kids!"  I exclaimed over and over to my husband as I sat amid piles and piles of clothes. (Note to my younger self: When a house has a separate storage room it is not really a positive thing.  The storage room will just allow you to put off dealing with your stuff.  You'll casually move things out to the storage room and create a clutter mess that will eventually have to be dealt with.)

I sorted and sorted - to sell, trash (spit-up stains multiply in storage!), to donate, to keep.

I thought I'd finished all the boy clothes and then I went outside and found 3 more bins -- NOOOOOOO!

The trouble with these cleaning out/organizing projects is that there really is no time for them amid the laundry, cooking, cleaning, parenting, driving kids places, etc. that needs to go on every day.  But, I'm trying to plow through that and "make time".

I haven't had the soundness of mind to take "before" pictures, most of my organizing projects have been heat of the moment I-can't-take-this-messy-drawer-one-more-second kind of episodes.  But, I need to savor in some of the results, the "after" pictures:

An organized drawer!

Look!  I can see my sewing table again!  Notice how there have been no sewing projects featured here in a very long time?  That's because my table was piled with fabric/half finished projects/to-do mending.  And really who can work with that?  So, I just didn't!  Funny how this clear space gives me the will again!

And some organized stacks of pretty fabric really helps, too!  These were pitifully folded and wadded and crammed in before.  By the way, I'm not allowing myself to buy any more fabric until I've used up nearly all I have -- whoa this is hard when there's so much cute fabric out there on the Internet!

There's progress.  Slow, imperfect progress.  But, progress none the less!

Find more Tackle it Tuesday here and Works for Me Wednesday here. 


  1. Basements are dangerous too. So easy to look at something, not know what to do with it, and then haul it to the basement to deal with later. My husband is the complete opposite of a pack rat which I guess is what keeps me from going down that path. I tend to attach sentimentality to something where no sentiment is warranted. I'm working on that though.

    A clean junk drawer is a very satisfying thing : ) Good luck with your de-cluttering!

  2. Looks great! I am moving later this year and I am going to take the opportunity to get things cleared out and organized!

    My tackle is up for this week:

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  4. I think I better stop buying toys for my boy. I noticed that he is not giving importance and not taking care of his old toys. Thanks for sharing this post and you made me realized a good thing.

  5. I decided that my January project was going to be decluttering so I know exactly how you feel. It's hard to keep the coloring book population down when every holiday a teacher or a grandparent is giving your kid another coloring book/stuffed animal/etc. :) Found you through Works for Me.

  6. I agree with every word here. You are a woman after my own heart!

  7. Ha! Your comment about the free back-pack made me laugh. I hate free stuff (well unless its something I really want of course) I mean those free goodie bag kind of things that pile up everywhere and we end up throwing away after they have spend a good month or so cluttering up my counters and floors.

  8. Love it! I have issues with this kind of thing too! I save way too much (for some day)!

  9. I so agree our children have so many things it is hard to keep it all organized looks like you did great job
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