Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Making space for a large family; decluttering

Betsy asked a couple of great questions in relation to an organizing post.  I answered her first question here, and now I'll try to answer her second question.

How do you choose what stuff to keep and what to get rid of? What about kids toys, do you let them pick or just get rid of it? What about hubbies stuff? Does he go through it or do you just get rid of it for him? We are a family of packrats in a small house so stuff is a constant issue.

First off, I think everyone struggles with this to some degree or another.  We are living in a very materialistic consumer centered society.  It has its blessings; just about anything you or I could need are just a quick trip down the road or even a click away!  However the drawback is that we often are tempted to pick up things we don't really need or we enjoy the thrill of the hunt as we find a great deal only to find that the object does not bring any joy, does not really make life easier and ends up being a waste of money and sometimes even causing more work.  How do we get away from this? How do we know what should stay in our homes and what needs to go?  How do we de-clutter?  

What to keep and what to get rid of- When deciding what to keep and what to get rid of ask yourself some questions.  Do I/we love it?  Do I/we use it?  Does this help our family glorify God?  Is there something else that also serves the same purpose this does?  Do I have more than one (and if so do I need more than one)?  Does it fit easily into the space we have?  If I get rid of this will it really save me any space/time (as an example- my husband has a bin of straps.  He uses some of them, but could get rid of some.  However he would still need that same small bin to hold the ones he does need.  He chooses to keep the others since getting rid of them will not save any space and they COULD come in handy some day).

What about kids' toys- That really depends on the toys, child, and situation.  I can safely de-clutter the baby toys with no objections from the baby.  Toddler toys are fairly safe, but I need to be more careful.  However; my goal as a parent in de-cluttering with my kids is to teach them good judgement and organizing skills, not to get rid of their stuff.  We talk about the questions I listed above and help them answer those questions so they can come to their own decisions about their things.  Sometimes when they live out what we are teaching they end up teaching us. We talk about the fact that when we have more stuff we must spend more time taking care of that stuff.  Which would we rather spend our time doing-- taking care of our stuff or with each other?  Do we enjoy our home more when it is messy or when it is neat and tidy?  I've found that in going through this with the kids they have usually come to some very wise decisions on their own.  That being said my husband and I reserve the right as parents to remove any toy, book, object etc that is causing problems (too many fights, not being well cared for, left out repeatedly) or does not align with our family values. 

What about our husbands- That really depends on your husband.  If he does not want you going through or getting rid of his stuff, don't.  I've found that when I start de-cluttering my husband is inspired to do so himself.  Sometimes he asks me to help him.  He has also asked me to tackle a certain area that includes much of his stuff.  When that happens I do make some judgement calls, but usually unless it is obviously trash or something I KNOW he wants to get rid of I will set items aside for him to make the final call on.

Something I've really been working on lately is just being content with what I have.  Trying to find ways to help our things serve us better.  Even if I would enjoy something and have the money; is it something I can do without?  Usually the answer is "yes."  I'm trying to purchase only the things my husband is actually encouraging me to bring into our house, and even then really think long and hard about it.  "Stuff" will always be a struggle to some extent.

Another thing to think about is that just because you could find space for something does not mean it needs to come into/stay in your home.  Really think about how much time you are spending dealing with your stuff.  How easy is it to find the things you really want to use?  Could the space be used better without so much stuff?  Just because I can cram a bunch of stuff in my garage does not mean I really should keep it all (yep, I REALLY need to get brutal in my garage.  Thats for another post; soon I hope!).  Our garage could serve us much better if we had less stuff in it so that my husband could use it as a work shop and so that I could have the freedom use part of it as a pantry.

1 comment:

  1. Great post. We are a family of nine as well and I constantly have to be going through and weeding out what we have -- otherwise it is too much to manage.
    Every other year I have a large garage sale {which is a ton of work} but it really motivates me to clean out!