Category Archives: Removing Clutter
Remember when we cancelled cable? It was the first week of April. Exactly 5 months ago.
I had hoped that by canceling cable we’d become overall healthier, happier people. I had visions of sitting around the table playing Dominos as a family. Or solving crossword puzzles together. Mikayla would completely forget about Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. And we’d all watch a lot less tv.
Yeah…none of that happened.
I don’t know how its possible, but we actually watched more tv without cable. Mikayla still cries for Mickey’s “Cwubhouse”. And we don’t even own Dominos or crossword puzzles.
After 5 months, we still really miss cable. Maybe this tells you the quality of people we are. Maybe this paints us as lazy, good-for-nothin’, tv-holics. So be it.
I don’t know if it was missing the first week of football or watching seasons 1 & 2 of Downton Abbey for the 4th time but we finally decided to re-activate our cable.
When I talk to people about getting rid of clutter and clearing out the junk, we usually focus on getting rid of the unnecessary stuff – the clutter. But the flip side is determining what things you will keep – things you NEED, things you USE, things you LOVE. You need clothing. Your child uses toys and books and puzzles. You love family photos and heirlooms. Things your family needs, uses or loves should be kept – its not necessarily the same items for every family.
Am I saying our family loves cable? Yes. Yes I am. Feel free to judge our shallowness.
At least I’m being honest about it, right? I could’ve just re-activated our cable and let you go right on believing we were spending our time working a 10,000 piece Thomas Kinkade puzzle and playing a 3 month long game of Monopoly.
One of my favorite tools for maintaining a clutter free home is the Closet Donation Basket. I’ve written about closet clutter before, and mentioned the donation basket as a helpful organizing tool, but it’s worth mentioning again. The basket in my closet is currently full so we will be bagging it up to donate sometime this week.
Once you go through your closet and get rid of all the stuff you haven’t worn since 1997, you simply place some sort of basket in the floor. This container (mine is a collapsable clothes hamper found in the dollar isle at Target) provides a convenient place to “remove” unwanted or unworn clothes immediately, as soon as you notice them. Rather than only cleaning your closet once every 3 years (or whenever you decide your sick of the mess) you can purge as you go.
At the end of each season take five minutes to flip through your clothes. Are there shirts you didn’t wear at all? Toss them in the basket. Pants that don’t fit quite right anymore? Toss them in the basket. A sweater that you swore was beautiful at one point but you aren’t exactly sure why now? Toss it in the basket.
You get the idea.
Here’s the key to making this really work – don’t bring in more than you send out.
In other words, if you purge your closet of three unworn items then purchase 10 new items, you are adding clutter not removing it. There has to be a balance of purging and buying. You have to decide how many and what items you need and then stick to those boundaries. Excess is simply clutter. Allow someone else to have your excess so you can enjoy a clutter free wardrobe.
Question: What’s something you can give away this week?
Let’s talk about cameras. I’m most definitely not the person to talk to if you want to know about the latest and greatest cameras available. But I do know that what was hugely popular and wildly advanced last year is probably old and out-dated by now. Or will be soon.
Just before Mikayla was born we bought a video camera. Because…every parent needs a video camera. It uses those tiny little discs. It’s a fine camera but it’s kind of a pain to get the recorded material from the camera to the computer.
A couple years ago we bought a new digital camera that records HD video. Not top of the line but better than the video camera we already had. We held onto the video camera not knowing if we’d ever need it. But really, what with smart phones and all, we hardly even use the better digital camera. So, we definitely aren’t going to use the kind-of-a-pain video camera. Time for it to go. Sold it in the yardsale to a really obnoxious, loud woman who apparently never learned to use her inside voice. But, I was happy to sell it to whomever was willing to buy it.
Got any old technology lying around? What do you do with it?
Several years ago I bought this corner shelf to put in our kitchen. I didn’t need a shelf for storage or anything it was just an odd empty corner that I felt needed something. I like the shelf but I never could figure out what to put on it.
At first I put some decorative stuff on it but then Mikayla started crawling so I had to clear off the bottom two shelves. Then I got tired of dusting the stuff on it. Then the iHome that was on it broke. Pretty soon it was just an empty shelf.
You know what’s worse than an empty corner? An empty shelf in that corner. It just screams, “This corner is SO empty and we don’t know what to do with it!” So I gave up. Sold the shelf in the yardsale. It was actually the very first item we sold at approximately 25 minutes before our advertised start time while everything was still piled in the garage. But that’s another story.
Got something that’s not working for your space? Why not sell it to someone else for their space?
I used to love it. I remember when either Mike or I won it at an auction at work a long time ago and we were both really excited about it. We hung it in our house and thought it was the greatest thing ever. When we moved houses we took it down and brought it with us but never could find that perfect place.
It’s been under the stairs for like 8 years – or however long we’ve lived here. Really? Couldn’t find somewhere to hang it in 8 years but just maybe someday we’ll walk into a room and think, “You know what this room needs? A giant picture of a palm tree.”
I don’t hate it but I don’t love it either and it really just doesn’t go with the “decor” of our house. It’s time for it find a new home. I’m sure it will make some sad room somewhere shine with it’s palm-tree-ness.
You’re holding on to weird decorative items too aren’t you? I know you are. Why not set them free? And then come tell me what they are so I know I’m not the only one.
Over two years ago I posted about cleaning out a closet to get rid of a dozen-ish bags and purses. Looking back at those pictures I’m shocked that I ever held on to that many bags. How many can you really use at a time anyway?
Just to show you that good habits can take the place of bad ones, I thought I’d update you on the purse situation. I have my every day bag, of course. I’ve held on to two diaper bags (one full size-ish and one tiny one) just incase I ever need them again and because I absolutely love these bags and can’t seem to part with them. I have a back pack for outings with Mikayla and a small shoulder bag for the same reason. When in public with Mikayla it’s best to have two free hands at all times. And I have my laptop bag. That’s it.
Writing that list out makes me feel like it’s still a lot of bags but I do use them all from time to time (except the diaper bags though one is a backpack that Mikayla could use at school next year). And they are all bags I really like and I’ll use for a long time.
How do I keep the purse addiction in check? First of all, I don’t shop for bags. Secondly, if I do shop for a new bag I follow the one-in-one-out principle. This way, I don’t just accumulate more bags and I can choose which one I like best – do I like the one I already own or do I like the new one enough to spend the money AND part with the old one? Usually I keep the one I already have.
This past winter I purchased a new “winter bag”. I liked it ok but not enough to keep and use again next winter. It was too floppy. I couldn’t find anything in it because it would just fold in on itself and I couldn’t see inside. So rather than storing it for 12 months and then deciding to get rid of it, I went ahead and put it out with the yardsale stuff. No reason to take up space in the closet.
Do you have any collections that need to be thinned out? How do you keep from accumulating too many?
After four years of parenting (or my version of it) I’ve learned that there are many things you think you need for your child but you really don’t. I don’t know why we think this – maybe because other people do things a certain way or maybe because the stores sell certain items so they must be necessary?
For instance – one of the most stressful items we purchased for Mikayla (before she was born) was the crib bedding. We bought one set and then took it back after a week or so and then I scoured the internet searching for the perfect blend of cute and frugal bedding. The set we purchased included a sheet, crib bumper, quilt, mobile, “bed” skirt, valance. Do you want to guess how many of those items we ever actually used?
That’s it. We used the sheet. Along with a couple other sheets I bought in addition for a much cheaper price. The crib bumper and bed skirt (crib skirt?) lasted until the first time I changed the sheets. It only took about twenty seven seconds to realize changing a crib sheet was way too much trouble by itself and there was no way I’d survive if I also had to fight the skirt and bumper. The valance was too small for our window. The quilt was cute and I did hang it on her wall – but it definitely wasn’t a necessity. And the mobile – we put it in her crib. How many times did she look at it? Probably twice. For pictures. Then we took it down because we kept hitting it with her head or our heads.
The most stressful pre-baby purchase and we didn’t even use it. Ridiculous. Dear new parents, please don’t stress over crib bedding. Your baby will not care if he only has a sheet and blanket and it might save a few of your precious brain cells because after baby arrives you’ll need all you’ve got.
Another thing we discovered we didn’t need? A second car seat. Baby car seats are the absolute worst things ever. I mean, I’m glad they keep babies safe and all but they are a pain to deal with in any way. Once it’s installed you should just consider it nailed down because taking it out for any reason will make you want to hurt someone. I knew this prior to having Mikayla. I’ve been around enough kids to know that car seats are horrible monsters sent to steal away whatever sanity poor parents cling to. So, I thought it’d be a lot better if we had a car seat in each car so that we never had to move it back and forth.
But, really, we didn’t need this. I’m sure some families do, especially if both parents are working and share the pick up or drop off responsibilities. But for us, it wasn’t necessary. We used this car seat only a handful of times. And, really, it was a poorly designed seat. Once Mikayla reached about 25 lbs it was too small for her comfort. It sat up too straight and it was too tight on her legs (granted, she carried more of that 25 lbs. in her thighs than most toddlers). Just not the greatest carseat ever.
So, we cut our losses and sold the barely used carseat at the yardsale.
What’s something you thought you absolutely had to have for baby that turned out to be less than useful?
Mikayla LOVES Christmas trees. Quite possibly her favorite thing on the planet. So every Christmas we put a small tree up in her room. I hate that tree. It was the cheapest available and it is horrible. The branches are the wrong size. It’s impossible to find a “good side” to face the front. You get the idea.
So, this past Christmas, on the “annual day after Christmas early morning shopping trip” I happened to find a lovely new tree that was 50% off. Perfect.
I tried to sell the old one at our yardsale. And, I tried to sell it at a friend’s yardsale. Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks it’s horrible. Or, no one wants to buy a Christmas tree in May. We donated it with the rest of the yardsale items that didn’t sell. I don’t know how nice of me it is to donate a tree I think is horrible but hopefully someone more creative than me can make something lovely out of it.
What’s something you can remove from your home this week?
It seems the kitchen is the easiest place to gather clutter. Not only is it an easy place to drop whatever is in your hands and pockets at the end of the day but it also tends to accumulate various utensils that promise to be of use someday. The kitchen is also one of the most used places in the home and as such should be kept as clutter free as possible.
Friends had given us a new set of glasses at Christmas. I kept the previous set (or what’s left of them) just because I didn’t really have anywhere to put them. But a yardsale is a perfect opportunity to remove clutter such as this from your home.
I also found a few random utensils hidden in the bottom of drawers or backs of cabinets that were not being used by us but perhaps would be useful to someone else.
The hardest thing to part with was my pretty flowered glasses. I don’t particularly love them anymore, it was more a matter of pride. A couple years after Mike and I got married I bought TWO SETS of them on sale. When I got home Mike insisted I’d never use them and that I’d wasted the money. I, in return, insisted that I would use them often and that it was a wonderful use of the money. Fast forward 8 or so years…I’ve never used them. Not one time. Time to admit that he was right and give up the joke that I’ll ever use them. At least I was able to sell them to regain some of those wasted dollars.
What can you remove from your kitchen this week?
When running, one needs gadgets. Some of these gadgets may have legitimate uses and others are just to help us stay motivated over those seemingly endless miles of pavement. Since I never again in my life plan to run anything over a few miles, these two gadgets are no longer needed.
The water bottle / fanny pack combo, while admittedly un-cool, was possibly the most useful running gadget I used. It had a little pocket for my key or GU. If you don’t know what GU is, consider yourself lucky. And I liked always having water with me rather than hoping all the fountains were actually working.
This watch/pedometer thing would have been really cool. Buuuuut, I could never quite get it calibrated correctly. It was supposed to track your distance and pace and such, but it didn’t really work for me. A more expensive watch with GPS capabilities would’ve been better but then I’d be stuck with an unused $350 watch instead of just my $50 version.
Regardless of how much stuff cost or how valuable they once were – unused is unused. I will never again run a distance long enough to need either of these things. Perhaps some other ambitious runner will get some use from them.
What unused item can you get rid of this week?