Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Weeding Out Wednesday

What can you say when you look at this except: Ohhh...

This was my solution for a truly chaotic situation. I am always finding little pieces of sets everywhere around the house.... duplos, chess pieces, little figurines, whatever. Rather than spend time I didn't have returning them whence they came, I would simply toss them into toy limbo. This is my oldest son's trunk, which he doesn't need anymore because he is generally off at college.

This worked OK -- better than having the stuff in sundry junk drawers all over the house. At least the junk had a home base. Every once in a while I would pay the fifth child to sort these into categories, and return them where they belong.

But this time I resolve.... almost resolve... RESOLVE to resolve to be ruthless and actually get rid of a lot of this, and put away the rest.

It's junk. It's junk. It's replaceable American plastic for the most part. Why am I keeping it, when I could be free of it? Because some Scottish voice in my head tells me it's wasteful to throw away things that could come in handy someday. And because some probably Scottish voice also makes me feel all sentimental about these useless relics from my childrens' past.

Plus, every once in a while I open the box and the little ones have a happy time sorting through the junk and finding the little figurines or rare useful things. But that isn't really worth the six square feet footprint and the mess that generally results.

So yesterday I sat down and made four piles:

  • One for pieces from construction sets -- blocks, duplos and the like. I can easily return those to their proper storage places.
  • One for little figures and manipulatives. I included the chess pieces in that. When the older kids play chess it's convenient to give the little ones the pieces from the incomplete set. I'll put those with the real chess set in a separate baggie.
  • One for cars.
  • One little baggie for dice.
These are the things I'll keep. The rest go into the junk pile.
I have not finished yet, but when I do, I'll take a picture.

A few weeks ago I read Organizing from the Inside Out. The idea of this book is to design " a system based on your life goals, natural habits and psychological needs". For some reason this book really clicked with me. She says something that is often repeated: find a place for everything. But this time, it sunk in a bit. I realized that if I, personally, can't manage some item or system, it doesn't belong in this house (unless of course it's something that the DH or children are taking care of by themselves).

Even if it's a wonderful resource, it doesn't belong in this house if I can't take care of it.

For some reason this ties in with Celebrating Abundance. If you take care of what you have, maybe you don't need so much. Also, Shawna at As Simple Plus Two Plus Two's toddler mantra: Keep it New, Keep it Few!

I will probably feel a pang someday when I realize I've tossed out something that we could have used.... somehow. But I can bear pangs. I feel worse every day when I clean the kitty litter. So if I can just Re-Solve to do this......


Shawna said...

Yeah Willa!! Great job weeding. Here's a trick I use when deciding what to keep and what to move on: Practice living without it. (I think I might even Blog about this!)

When I have a bunch of stuff, such as the contents of a junk drawer, or a bathroom cabinet, or the likes of your trunk, I will quickly grab the items that I KNOW I need and already have a place for, and put them away. The rest, I dump into a trash bag, label with the date, and stash it in the garage. If after 6 months (sometimes longer), I've missed nothing, I figure that we can certainly live without the contents, and I don't even look. I just "move it along." Actually, since I started doing this, I'm actualy a lot better about knowing what I need, and its usually not much, and I can often skip the whole "practicing" part and just accept that I can live without it

Now I'm working on tranfering this philosophy to my shopping in realizing that I can live without it BEFORE I buy it!

Willa said...

Hi Shawna!

Thanks for the great comment.
I've come a long way too... but for some reason, little bits of game sets are a tough one for me. I always imagine I might actually put the set back together again. A vain hope, I think!

You really should blog about it -- I love your everyday tips about making things work.