‘Tis the Season to Get Rid of Crap

…fa la la la la, la la la laaaa! So, now that we’ve been downright blessed with all things fun or practical or lovely (or all three) for Christmas, we look to the post-holiday season as the time to purge unnecessary items and generally decrapify our lives and home.

For the last bit of December (and, of course, spilling into January), we’ll be going through some of our closets, cabinets, built-ins, toy baskets and bins, dressers, and more. There are a few reasons.

1) The obvious — We don’t want to live amid piles of stuff, so Christmas + Normal amount of stuff = Way too much stuff with not enough room. Wow. How much can I say “stuff”?! Anyhoo, the gist is a basic idea of displacement; if you pour too much water into a space, it spills out. Same with stuff.  And we don’t want to live like hoarders.

2) We try to live a simpler life. We look to our house and our love of history and old movies as guides to living. For example, back when our house was built, the average person didn’t own 5 pairs of black pants (or quite possibly more) like I do. We don’t need everything we have, so to simplify we’ll be assessing what we love, what we need, and what we can do without.

3) Less clutter, more mental clarity. Great way to start the new year! Although, admittedly, this isn’t really a resolution. It’s an all-year, never-ending search for clarity and organization. (It isn’t that we’re above resolutions; it’s that I, for one, suck at public statements of commitment. I’m lucky marriage has worked so well for me!)

4) We obviously don’t just toss what we don’t need; we donate it. So, it’s a great feeling to think that someone else will benefit from our purge…hopefully!

So, what’s our strategy? I’m glad you ask! Although it sometimes differs from item to item (toys vs. clothes or bills/office stuff vs. medicine cabinet vs. food, for example), there are a few questions that we ask ourselves to get the ball rolling —

1) Is it outdated? This is mostly relevant for medication and food, but can also refer to clothes. I loved a white, short-sleeved jacket for the longest time, but I finally woke up and realized that every time I put it on I’d think, “Well, those sleeves are awkwardly puffy. Um, yeah, no. Not today.” So, having not worn it in over a year, I woke up to the fact that it’s outdated and finally ditched it.

2) Hand-in-hand with being outdated is will I use/have I used it? If it’s in your house already, has it been used in the last year? If it’s new, you may think you don’t know if it will be of use, but don’t just stuff it away willy-nilly. You may immediately be able to say, “That’s the 3rd pull toy Hadley has and he doesn’t play with the others” (just an example, not true at all; he loves pull toys) or “That’s an ugly sweater; I’ll never wear it.” Give yourself credit and listen to your internal REALISTIC voice; not the internal IDEALISTIC voice (the one that optimistically gives everyone and everything a chance; you know the voice. It can be great in the right situation; not in the purging environment).

3) Is the item in disrepair? This probably should be up there with #1, along with “does it fit?” If an item doesn’t fit, don’t keep it until it does (be it small or large) unless you REALLY, REALLY love it. Does the item have an irreparable tear? (If you have the correct button or can steal one from the inside of the garment, that’s fine; if the button’s long gone and you have no option of finding a new one, call it a loss and move on — we don’t have the time these days to hunt down proper buttons and such.) Yes, I’ve been known to sew the hell out of some shirt armpits or loose hems or holes in pockets, and I’m all for sewing on buttons, but if the issue’s not an easy fix…it may be time to say “adios” to that garment.

4) Will you need it? This is a VERY difficult question, especially as a mom/parent looking at clothes. This is where the “size” issue I mentioned above can be brushed aside — but ONLY if the item was of exemplar benefit to you at a previous time. In the case of clothing (and in my example as a mama), I allow you to evaluate your pregnancy body (during AND post; don’t forget the “post”!). In my situation, there were pregnancy pieces that just did the trick far more than any others, so I know I’ll need to keep those on hand for future bambinos. Oh, and the particularly wonderful thing about those items is that they were generally great for layering, so whether I’m pregnant in the fall, winter, spring or summer, I’m covered. After having Hadley, I was in a larger size for awhile, so those transitional pieces are in storage with my preggers stuff — they’re great for when you start to show and when things are “dying down” at the end. Plus, in my sometimes-rare case, breastfeeding caused me to lose mad weight — like, a size below my pre-pregnant self. Now that he’s tapering off, I’m still between the lower and pre-pregnant sizes (yet I still try just to have stuff that I can wear NOW in my dresser drawers and closet).

On a side note, this goes for stuff like hand lotions and that stuff that so quickly can clutter a hall closet. Much of what I receive as gifts in this area aren’t what we generally use; ie not eco-friendly, not an appealing smell, etc. I find no fault in regifting such a thing (especially if it’s a quality brand and clearly unused) if I think the gift receiver would APPRECIATE it (I don’t want to pawn off something just to clutter someone else’s space; we try to be cognizant of others’ wishes when gifting), or finding a women’s shelter or other facility that can use things that we won’t ever need.

5) Why am I keeping this? Here’s where we get all “come to Jesus” on ourselves. See if you can honestly answer. Sometimes there’s some real value in keeping something; other times, it’s an emotional attachment (be it rational or not). Here, I have a hard time with cards. Birthday cards, thank you cards, Christmas cards…yeah. Do I NEED to keep them? No. If I do, our basement will end up looking like a Great Depression survivor’s, with stacks of newspapers from every week…ever. Silly. So, I keep the prior year’s, then that 1 year anniversary rolls around, I look at what I should keep. This year, my grandfather scrawled a Christmas card in his very shaky, very difficult to understand hand. It may very well be his last. That, I keep.

Those are pretty much the questions mulling around in our heads as we tackle our spaces. While practically every corner of the house needs some decluttering, our main areas include: TOYS (Dave just got a new fabric bin, so we now have a large basket and a bin in the living room; it’s working for now), CLOSETS, PILES (I’m a piler; the hard part is going through them to find a final resting place for every…little…piece…of…paper. Gah. I’m overwhelmed already.), BOOKS.

Is anyone else attacking some clutter this 2014? What stuff are you going to be sifting through and saying “goodbye” to? Are you doing it cheerfully or begrudgingly? (Admittedly, we’re happy after something has been tackled…but we hate it while we’re doing it.)

2 thoughts on “‘Tis the Season to Get Rid of Crap”

  1. Yep, I'm getting rid of stuff around here too. We didn't get much for Christmas, but this is just the time of year that I'm always in the mood for a big decluttering/organizing binge. Hope it goes well for you!

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