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Paring Down Possessions

Discarded toys

It's time to pass all these baby toys along. Sigh.

I’ve mentioned it a few times already, but I thought I’d give you an update on the bag-a-week purge that’s been going on since January.

It’s taken me a long time to admit it, but I am ready to say it: I have too much stuff in my house. Way too much stuff. Too many toys. Too many clothes. Too many electronic components. Too many books. Too many housewares. Something had to give.

Even before January, before I realized that we have too much, I was trying to stick to a one-in-one-out policy. (For every one thing that came in, something else had to go out.) But with the realization that we’ve got too much stuff came a new directive: Get the unused stuff out of here. This cleanse, this mandate is making me dig deep and admit that if I don’t need something, it shouldn’t be in my house.

Take the bag of stuff that got dropped at the thrift store today. That bag contained two yoga mats, a pair of white ski pants, a ton of gloves and hats the kids outgrew, two pairs of snowboots (also outgrown), a few t-shirts, a stroller cover, a Bundle Me, and some books. Aside from the gloves and hats, none of it had been used in years. I have two “good” yoga mats in my trunk, so why did I need the other two in the house? I have pretty, stylish black ski pants, so why was I hanging on to a white bib that I wore in high school? I really don’t know.

The bag before that one had lots of housewares. A brand new thermos, some coffee cups, a clock radio, a router, plastic serving utensils that I couldn’t recycle and won’t use, a child’s game, more outgrown clothing. On Monday I unloaded about ten pairs of shoes at Little Girl’s school. They are doing a Soles4Souls collection, and I was thrilled to be rid of all the sandals and sneakers that haven’t been worn in about two or three seasons.

Could I have sold these items? Sure, but in the scheme of things my time is worth more than the money I would have earned. And the tax deduction that I got was pretty nice, too.

I’m not going to stop until the only things left in the house are things we actually use. (Or that make me happy when I look at them such as a pretty piece of glass or a relic from my childhood. Bottom line, I’ve got to NOTICE something before I’ll let it stay.) This is going to take a lot more digging. For example, even though I’ve gone through my kitchen three times so far, I plan on making a few more sweeps. There are some things in the drawers and cupboards that I wasn’t ready to part with yet. I figure if I keep looking at them, eventually I will give them up. (One of two cookie presses springs to mind as does the giant stack of metal mixing bowls that I haven’t used since I acquired them.)

I’ve also changed the way I look at Big Girl’s clothing. I used to put every single piece of her clothing away. I quickly learned that there are some things that don’t look good on Little Girl, some things that are too trendy to be put away, and some things that I’ll probably want to replace. Now, I set aside classic pieces, and donate anything that I know in my heart won’t be worth pulling out in four years time.

These past few months have been easy. I’ve been getting rid of the low hanging fruit of my closets, drawers, and attic. However, some day soon I am sure I am going to find things that I will have a hard time giving up. However, this is important work because, in the end, I think paring down will actually make my life less stressful. (Especially after we tackle the garage!)

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