Thursday, February 28, 2013

Random thoughts on Getting Rid of Stuff

Step one – get rid of stuff.
        We have too much stuff.  In our small house, too much stuff means clutter and inability to find the right thing at the right time.  It is hard to let go of things.  It is OH-SO-HARD to let go of things!  Old jackets (ugly as sin, but so comfortable!), pre-babies pants (I will, I will fit into them, I will!), boxes upon boxes of college-era notes, old lab notebooks, hand-me-downs from family you couldn’t so “no” to, old cameras, roller blades (bought them in college, used them twice).  Do you ever do that - keep things just in case some day – maybe – you’ll need them.  Even though deep down you know the chances of that are approaching zero.  We have half a bookshelf dedicated to fat old textbooks – we haven’t looked at them in years, but what if…  What if we will need them - years down the road?  (Ha!  Who needs textbooks when you have Google!)  But what can I do with a biology textbook?  A chemistry textbook?  Display it as art?  Turn it into a free-floating shelf?  Hmmm…  have to think about it. 
        Toys.  That’s a tough one – we have two young kids and the amount of toys they are accumulating is getting out of hand.  They certainly don’t play with all of them.  Some of the toys are noisy and annoying.  Others are just plain ugly.  Do I let the children decide what to donate and what to keep?  Or do I sneak into their rooms while they are asleep to snatch away a few toys and hope they don’t notice?  I would prefer to keep high-quality toys that are open-ended, can be used in different ways and have a long shelf-life (as the kids grow, they will continue to play with them).  Blocks.  Legos.  Cars.  Trains and train tracks.  Dolls.  Musical instruments and art supplies.  These are the toys our kids play with almost every day.
Things that I would love to get rid of but will not (or my kids will eat me alive): super-noisy garbage truck, half of their stuffed animals, 100 plastic dinosaurs, broken, cheap horrible “Pixar Cars” cars that can’t roll because the wheels don’t turn.  Next to the super-annoying Mater, we have some good-quality toys our kids seem to completely ignore: letter blocks, puppets, memory games…  Come on, kids this is EDUCATIONAL, GOOD-FOR-YOU stuff. I guess the best thing to do would be to hide a pile of toys in the garage and then bring them out one at a time. 
Baby toys (sorter, pyramid and the like) – I guess these we need to look through, keep the best ones for future generations and donate the rest.  We need to go through the kids’ bookshelf and donate some of the books. 
Other things that I would love to get rid of: clothing we don’t wear any more.  Old keys from old labs.  Things that are just taking up space but don’t serve any function (decorative vases, for example).  Kitchen gadgets I haven’t used in the last 5 years.  Tablecloths and placemats of hideous colors (don’t ask how I came to possess these).  Souvenirs that are like tribbles and multiply in geometric progression.
Any advice?  How do you separate junk from gems?  How do you decide what to keep and what to toss?  Do you ever regret getting rid of stuff?  
I’ll keep you posted on (any) progress.

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