Aug 6, 2008

STUFF


This time of year with everyone getting ready for "Back to School" - or in our case "Not Back to School" - organization has been a big topic of discussion. As I am sure I have mentioned before I am a bit OCD with organization in my house. Honestly I just can't focus or feel settled if there is clutter. Now I don't mean that you can eat off the floors or that my house is spotless by any means, but things need to be neat and close to its place. One of the moms on a yahoo group I belong to brought up the question of beyond organizing how do people deal with the accumulation of "stuff" and I thought I would share my suggestion to her -

When KM was younger we moved a lot - 8 times in 5 years. We were lucky when we moved to our current home to have the ability to move in very slowly over a four month period so that KM could finish kindergarten at the school she was in and I could really get the place organized. As we were moving I started discovering boxes with things I hadn't seen in years, there were literally 14 large boxes and 5 smaller ones that I hadn't opened in years. CJ made a really good observation - if we hadn't looked for it in "X" amount of years when would we? We had moved those boxes each and every time we moved thinking hey we could use that for this or will have somewhere to hang that picture in the new house, but of course we never did and we just kept moving them from place to place. So we really went through them this time and found two items out of all those boxes that we actually wanted/needed to keep, since then we have tried to live by if you don't use it - it goes.
Here is my suggestion:
Starting with the attics, basements, and closets go through the boxes and bags and such where you have things stored. Look at the things that you have and besides sentimental children's things and such, think whether you will really ever use it. Now I know it is difficult to get rid of stuff so start by boxing those things that you aren't sure if you will use. Seal the box with tape, date it and put it in the corner. In six months if the boxes seals are not broken then off they go. Don't even open them or have someone else take them and open them - this helps you from the temptation of "Oh, but I might NEED that."
In the playroom we have a tote that I use to store things that aren't touched. For instance if I see the Polly Pocket castle hasn't been touched in weeks, I simply put it in the tote. If my dd doesn't ask for it in a month, I move it to a larger tote in the garage. Then at the end of each month KM and I go to the tote and take it to the donation & recycle center. She has one chance to say why she hasn't used it, why she wants it or when she thinks she will use it. Like in the summer there is more leg room as she tends to play outside so the smaller inside toys don't get touched, but then we put a tote on the back porch and do the same thing with the outdoor toys. Generally everything in the tote gets taken away. It is up to you whether you want to give your child the last chance effort or not. I do know some parents, especially of younger children, who just get rid of the stuff without asking or telling the kids. Honestly I used to do the same thing with some stuff, especially with the little do-hickey items - like BK toys & birthday favors - until KM started being responsible for the recycling in the house and able to understand why she didn't NEED all the stuff.
I also do this in areas where I store things that don't get used all the time, like carafes, pitchers and serving items. I am generally the one in our family to do all the hosting, therefore I have a lot of these items. Recently I have begun to discover that there are certain items that don't come out anymore and I just keep moving them to get to the things that I always use. These items have been put in the garage tote as well to go to the donation center.

So this is what works in our house - maybe it will work for some of you guys as well. What is your strategy to deal with "stuff"?
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