- Books are often our greatest treasure; we can’t imagine giving them away
- We may have more than one child or might have, so we figure we will need the toys, the clothing, and the curriculum again soon
- We need to save two-liter bottles, empty milk containers, and toilet paper rolls for those experiments and crafts that use “what you have on hand”
- We may do unit studies and could use just about anything as a prop or costume
- We don’t want to waste money living on a single income or just to be good stewards
Although we can come up with good reasons to keep our stuff, there are also good reasons to get rid of it:
- If we keep buying bookshelves, we will have to buy a larger house
- Organizing hand-me-downs can be very time-consuming
- If we save too many recyclables, we might start thinking that having 20 cats is normal, too
- It’s no use saving so many things to use for unit studies if we can’t find them
- Clutter can cost us emotionally, socially, financially, and spiritually
We can’t clear years’ worth of clutter in a week, but we can get a good start on it. This week:
#1 Make a List of All Gifts Received for Christmas
I receive a few gifts for Christmas, but I buy most of my clothing and other items I need at the end of the year because of sales. If I don’t declutter as much as I take in, it won’t take long for me to look like a hoarder. The same goes for the kids.
Enough time has gone by that it will be an interesting exercise to have your children make a list of everything they’ve gotten during the Christmas season. I’m providing a form for subscribers for this purpose. If they can’t remember, what does that tell them about the real value of things?
#2 Collect Items to Declutter Based on Your Gifts Received List
The idea is to do a one-in, one-out exchange. If you got a new sweater, an old one is decluttered. If the kids got a new game, an old one is given away. If you can’t do that for some reason, just declutter any item in exchange for the new one received.
I had a very difficult time with this where the kids were concerned for many years. One child would get a toy as a gift and everyone played with it. This is great until it comes time to declutter. The teen no longer cared about the younger kids’ stuff, so he would want to declutter it, much to his siblings’ dismay.
I now lay two blankets on the floor when we are decluttering kid stuff. One blanket is for anything any child wants to give away. The other is for trash. The kids enjoy going through their stash of toys and games and putting items on the blankets. As a child sees something on the blanket he wants to keep, he rescues it and returns it to storage. As the process continues, he may change his mind and return it to the giveaway pile, however. Sometimes kids are ready to release things when they feel free to choose. I may also rescue items from the blanket that I want to sell or keep for grandchildren (I’ve changed my mind about many of these latter items with my husband’s encouragement.)
#3 Put Unwanted Books/Curriculum Aside or List for Sale
Once, when I had more books than bookcases, I went through boxes of books while on the phone with a friend. I would explain to her why I was keeping each book. It wasn’t long before I realized that I didn’t need to be everyone’s library. So much of the time I was keeping books in case someone wanted to borrow them. I encourage you to ask yourself why you’re keeping books and release those that hold no interest, no sentimental value, or will not be read again.
Can we talk about releasing curriculum now? It’s tough to admit you spent hundreds on something you hate or that your kids will never be cute little kindergartners again, but you’ll have so much more peace in your homeschool when it’s out of sight. If you declutter something you end up wanting again, you can always buy it (or borrow it) again.
At this point in the school year, you know which materials you purchased that just aren’t working. Box them up to sell at spring or summer used book sales or list them for sale now. Check out my post on the best places to sell used curriculum.
#4 Deliver Unwanted Items to Charity, Consignment, or the Post Office
Unless you’ve determined that later in the year is a better time to offload your unwanted items, do yourself a favor and send them to a new home as soon as possible.
In our area, many charities will pick up donations. I usually prefer to free up space by sending my husband to the drop-off location (which he gladly does).
Need more help with decluttering? Read this article from Sunday in Color.
What’s the hardest thing for you to let go of?
Next week’s challenge is the Organized Computer Challenge.
These are the previous weeks’ challenges: