Letting go of "stuff" - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 19 Old 02-23-2011, 09:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ugh. I need advice, help I have no idea what lol. We are a family of 8. We have way to much "stuff" toys, papers, things, ect. Its driving me NUTS. I want to get rid fo some of it but I keep hitting the but what if wall. How do you get past it? I have tons of toys and we dont need them all but feel bad getting rid of them. What if... some of them were my brothers and mine when we were little. I could send them to them but then I have to pay for shipping but maybe that would make me feel better about getting rid of them then just tossing them? How do you get past the what if and the guilt? We are a navy family so we will be moving in the nxt couple years. I do NOT want to move all this STUFF again! I have done it twice and honestly I hated it both times.

 

I am sure it doesnt help that I am an emotional person!


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#2 of 19 Old 02-23-2011, 11:02 AM
 
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I would say start with things that are less of an emotional trigger for you. Do things one little section at a time, like a drawer or a cabinet. Even if you just make a goal of finding ten things everyday to donate or throw away it will really start making a dent in your clutter, and you might get carried away and find you really enjoy all the peaceful space you are making for your family. 

 

As for your old toys, are they really heirloom quality stuff? If they are really nice, I'd keep a few items that meant the most to you and then e-mail your brother with pictures, telling him you are freeing up space in your house and asking if he wants any of it, and if so how does he want to split the shipping costs. Even if you have to pay to get rid of it at least it wont be causing you stress anymore. Seriously, how can you put a price on the emotional energy you are wasting by worrying about it and having to clean it and feeling guilty about it and lugging it around with you from house to house?

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#3 of 19 Old 02-23-2011, 11:13 AM
 
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I used to have a problem with holding on to things that had memories (everything from old napkins to baby clothes).  My dad has a big problem with hoarding stuff - my parents house gets more and more cluttered every time we are there.  I finally realized that I do NOT want to end up like that.  So, I sat down one evening and thought about all the stuff I have, and everything I have been saving.  I asked myself what I would TRULY miss if our house burned to the ground tomorrow.  And you know what - I couldn't think of a single thing (aside from my husband and kids).  I made the decision to clean the house of all the excess stuff and have given myself a year.  Going through old boxes and closets I find things stashed away that I don't even remember were there.  What's the point of saving stuff that I don't even remember?!?!?!  I do often pause to go through things and feel a little pang when I look at them, but I know now that I'll forget about them soon.  So, away they go.  The more stuff I get rid of, the easier it gets! 

 

Now, when I go through things if it isn't useful, or something very special then it's gone (I have one small box each for the kids baby mementos - coming home outfits, a special sweater knit by my grandma, heir first pair of walking shoes, and a couple of other small things).

 

Right now I'm struggling over what to do with my wedding gown.  I will likely never wear it again and I'm sure my daughter won't want to wear it, but I just haven't quite made it to the point of getting rid of it...

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#4 of 19 Old 02-23-2011, 11:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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You guys have made some great points! I will start with somethings that are less emotional for me and work my way up. Its not that we have a TON of clutter but we do have a lot of stuff for our size family and I know we can do with less. In my mind it is "when we move we are allowed to have XXX amount of weight how do I make it happen." The less stuff the less worry about being over our weight limit. I like the idea of a box for each child (though we hae 6 kids LOL) and lord knows I have baby clothes that were not only mine but my moms! It oculd stand a good cleaning out. I think I will start with the kitchen and then work my way around the rooms and finally out to the garage and storage.

 

This shouldnt be so hard!

 

Yea I am not sure I could get rid of my wedding dress. we got married at the court house and I worse a sundress and I cant imagine getting rid of it.


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#5 of 19 Old 02-23-2011, 12:21 PM
 
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I would set up a box for pure sentimental things and let yourself keep anything that fits in it. For me it is the hope chest my dad made for my 16th birthday. For other things you can take a picture and write a little journal entry. I have seen beautiful photo albums of kids artwork and clothes

 

For less emotional things, I find it worth asking myself if I would buy it if we did not have it. And if it is worth the $ it would take to move it? And the time it takes to pick it up and care for it? Could someone else get far better use out of it than I am?

 

Set up your recycling, garbage, donation boxes and do a little bit at a time. I like the idea I get from blogs of counting the items you are getting out of the house.

 

My wedding dress is still hanging in my closet and third generation clothes for my kids.


Mama to Monkey (Jan '09), Bee (May '11), and Cat (August, '13)

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#6 of 19 Old 02-23-2011, 02:27 PM
 
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For some of the things that were given to you by someone special, the way I deal with it is that I keep the love, but get rid of the stuff! 

 

My wedding gown was my mom's gown too.  I would still have it in a closet, but it was smoke damaged in a near-fire at my parent's house.  My mom was able to salvage some of it and she made in to a baptism gown that I can hand down to my children to use. 


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#7 of 19 Old 02-24-2011, 10:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I worked my way through the study today. Not all of it but part of it. I got rid of a full trash bag of papers ect and I have a pile that I need to remove articals from for my husbands deployment scrap book, then they can go in to the recycle can. It felt so good to do it! I am bouncing between the kitchen and the study. My goal is to get the downstairs done in the first half of march so I can do the upstairs in the second half. Then I can do the garage and outside storage. I think I can I think I can!


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#8 of 19 Old 02-24-2011, 06:44 PM
 
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Way to go, Mama! Feels liberating doesn't it? Keep it up thumb.gif

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#9 of 19 Old 02-25-2011, 06:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I washed all the laundry today and went through the kids clothes. Oy. I got a bag out of each room. So 3 bags + 1 for my neice when I see her next month.

 

Ahhhhh!


Navy wife, mama of 3 girls, 3 boys, 2 kitties and wanting more. No vax, no circ, trying to live as natural as  we can. We are working on it
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#10 of 19 Old 02-26-2011, 06:38 PM
 
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not to hijack the thread, but several people were mentioning their wedding dresses. If you're hanging on to your dress only because you don't know what else to do with it, there's a wonderful charity, www.bridesagainstbreastcancer.org  that accepts wedding gowns as tax-deductible donations. They have huge traveling gown sales where brides can find dresses at an affordable price, and the money is used for a sort of "make a wish foundation" for breast cancer patients.  I figured my gown could collect dust eternally in my closet, or it could help out multiple people.  every once in a great while I get an ache in my heart over what I did, but the fact remains, I have wonderful memories of my wedding, and I really don't need a large, boxed up, physical symbol of the day to keep the memories alive.

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#11 of 19 Old 02-27-2011, 07:14 AM
 
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This book:

http://www.amazon.com/Clutter-Busting-Letting-Whats-Holding/dp/1577316592/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1298819517&sr=8-1

 

Clutter Busting by Brooks Palmer.

It specifically focuses on addressing our emotional attachment to clutter and how to let it go.

Excellent book!


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#12 of 19 Old 02-27-2011, 07:29 AM
 
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If this helps, we have a "litmus test" that we use when deciding whether or not something should stay, go, or hang out in the attic for a while:  useful, beautiful, or loved.

 

If it doesn't fall in one of those three categories, it goes.  Life isn't all about usefulness - it's ok to keep things simply because you love them (my Holly Hobby lunchbox from 1st grade is still with us in a box in the attic labeled "Mom's Childhood," lol) or b/c they're so beautiful they make you smile every time you see them.  But if it's not beautiful and not useful and not beloved - ask yourself why you're still holding on to it.  Usually the answer will range from "obligation" (someone gave it to you) to "we spent money on it."  My DH had a hard time getting rid of anything for which we ever parted with cash, EVER - he's coming around, though.

 

Kids have a hard time parting with things, just because...well, they just do, I'm not sure why.  I used to love reading threads and blogs devoted to the "Seven Things" project (declutter by getting rid of 7 things each week), and I did that with my little guys.  "Quick, go find 7 things in your room that are broken, or you don't love them anymore, or don't go with any other "sets," or whatever you decide."  I gave my sons 15 minutes to find 7 things to declutter every weekend, for months - it really helped them get over that mindless, "but it's miiiiine" possessiveness.  Of course, it helped that I was doing it, too.  And you have to get rid of donations quickly - otherwise people will take them back out of the bag, if it continues to sit around.


So...I'm 43 and pregnant with #3 - how'd that happen?  

 

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#13 of 19 Old 02-27-2011, 07:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
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there are some awesome suggestions, I think I am gonna try some of them out this week. I have taken a break this weekend but I have a bunch of donation bags that will go tomorrow since my husband is off work and I have use of my van!


Navy wife, mama of 3 girls, 3 boys, 2 kitties and wanting more. No vax, no circ, trying to live as natural as  we can. We are working on it
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#14 of 19 Old 02-27-2011, 07:05 PM
 
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Re the wedding gown: I rented my wedding gown and I was so glad to do that, because I didn't want to be stuck with huge white dress that I would never wear. I have NEVER missed it. Even reading this thread has not even made me feel a pang. I have nice pictures and it is fine. And yes, I am very sentimental and have problems dealing with clutter. That's why I am here!

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#15 of 19 Old 02-28-2011, 12:10 PM
 
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I used to be very attached to my stuff. "Aww, my notes from 10th grade history, oh I gotta save this so I can remember Ms. Flynn!" or "I can't throw this sweater out. Mom got it for me that day when we got ice cream 5 years ago and I haven't worn it in 4 years but I might someday!" Save the important papers and toss everything you haven't touched in a year. Now I love getting rid of stuff. It's very theraputic. And it's nice to think "Someone else needs this more than I do."

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#16 of 19 Old 03-14-2011, 05:09 PM
 
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Using the Holly Hobby lunch box as an example, what a great memory of childhood!  It isn't something that someone needs to keep, but it sounds great and it must be a fun thing to see when looking through older stuff.  Now picture that Holly Hobby lunchbox surrounded by tons of other saved things, boxes, papers, artwork.  Wait, can you even find the Holly Hobby lunchbox anymore?  Can you share memories and stories, or is there just too much?  Isn't one special thing better than 10, especially when you can see it, talk about it, and tell your kids why it is special?  When your kids are older and helping you go through your things, will they want to keep a bunch of your old stuff, or will they happily see the Holly Hobby lunchbox and fondly remember it, maybe give it to their children?  Often the people we are saving all of this stuff for don't want it.  The memories are in our minds, we don't need all the stuff to remember, and unless we are super organized we don't even get to enjoy it because it is buried amongst too much other stuff.  

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#17 of 19 Old 06-18-2011, 10:43 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GearGirl View Post

 we don't even get to enjoy it because it is buried amongst too much other stuff.  



Great point!  Definitely had an epiphany reading this line. Thank you.


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#18 of 19 Old 06-19-2011, 10:54 AM
 
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I have found the process to be like layers of an onion, one layer at a time is necessary as you go through the process. I like everyone's suggestions here. I found I often had to go through things over and over, as months went I would go back and re-assess and do another sweep, as time and energy permitted. You are doing great Mama!!!! : )

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#19 of 19 Old 06-20-2011, 11:24 AM
 
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Lvntexas, that's exactly what I go through with my stuff. Sometimes I have to go back to things several times before I'm comfortable enough to part with a thing.

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