I am trying to follow some of the basic principles that the professional home organizers use, but I have tailored the 'rules' to suit our family.
- if it's broken, throw it out
- if it's been replaced by something newer, give it away
- if we have two of the same thing, get rid of one
- clothing that Anna or Holly did not wear (or wore once) is not likely to be worn by Jasmine someday, so get rid of it
- if I haven't needed it in the past year, it's just taking up space (like the steamer, for example)
- if it's expired, it's garbage (like bug repellent)
These rules break down a little when it comes to things that are sentimental or may someday be useful.
Could somebody please tell me the rule for how many artistic creations I should be keeping as a lasting record of how creative and busy my children were throughout these happy years of their lives? Anna and Holly each produce at least 5 creations daily, some of which are confined to spiral bound books, but most of which are on loose paper. And Holly is more of a sculptor, so her creations tend to involve empty paper towel rolls and construction paper and a lot of glitter. In other words, they take up a lot of space and are hard to hang up in our ever growing art gallery. I love the pictures they paint and the practise 'writing' that they do, but I really can't keep it all. Before Christmas Partner-Guy brought home some empty photocopier-paper boxes for me to store their artwork in, and Holly had hers filled in less than a week. I don't want them to think I don't value their work, but I only have so much wall space on which to hang it!!
I am also deeply sentimental about things that I have kept from my own past. For example, I have kept all my binders of notes and essays from my university days. I want them because getting my degree involved equal parts blood, sweat and tears, and throwing them out would seem to trivialize how hard I worked. I have also reasoned that maybe they will be useful someday when the girls want to study Canadian History or Women's Literature or Psychology 101. In fact, these items fall dually into the categories of Sentimental and Someday Useful. I have also kept some of the remnants of my elementary school days, such as trophies I won, as well as year books and some projects I completed. I don't know whether or not to keep these things either.
In the Someday Useful category I have a few items of clothing that I have been holding onto. I have a long black dress coat with a fabulous faux-fur collar that I want to have shortened so that I can wear it more comfortably. I also have some great high heels that I loved to wear, but which I can't really see myself wearing again. Unless I have to attend a wedding. Do people still do that? Get married???
I am not over doing it with keeping baby items for the girls. There is a baby blanket, one outfit and the toy they each received for their first birthdays. The rest of the toys that people have given us I think I can let go of. I have no problem donating them to a drop-in or to the Parks 'n' Rec preschool program. Really, if they haven't played with it in 3 months, they don't care enough about it to keep. And Jasmine will not grow up scarred for not having played with a Mr. Potato Head.
The things I am really looking forward to getting rid of are, unfortunately, still in use. For example, I would love to throw out the HUGE BLUE STEREO, circa 1996, but how would we play CDs? And the high chair is huge and awkward and I hit my toe on it at least 4 times a day, but Jasmine is just not ready to sit at the table in a booster seat yet. And then there are the baby items that are just taking up space until they are again needed: the infant bathtub, the change table, the Jolly-Jumper. We have friends who just had a third child 8 years after their second. I wonder if they kept everything for all that time...
So this week I am taking the list of rules and applying them to my bedroom and my kitchen. I figure there are at least 4 boxes of STUFF that will be given away and at least 2 large garbage bags.
Next week I tackle the enormous task of convincing Partner-Guy to start to his edit his running shoe collection.