Posts filed under ‘organization’
One of the best things about blogging is revisiting old posts. Reading my own words helps keep me accountable to myself. As a result of recent home renovations I created a little note to myself called A Few Things I Learned While Nesting, Purging and Streamlining.
Lesson #7 including the following:
Books are a huge waste of money if I never find the time to read them. I am not allowed to bring any new books into the house until I read the ones I already own. After I read them I will pass them on to someone else. I almost never read the same book more than one time so why on earth am I putting them on a bookshelf for later.
When I was a child I absolutely loved visiting the library. I remember exactly how that building was configured. How the long checkout desk stood at the entrance and how many steps it took to reach the children’s section after walking through the front door.
I’ve written many times about my love of reading and about my strange habit of buying books, but never setting aside the time to read them.
For years friends, family and readers of this blog have recommended borrowing books from the library, but I’ve always been against the idea. Our local library is dark, dingy and quite frankly a bit disgusting.
Before my son started preschool I began taking him to story hour once a week. Every Monday we walked straight to the children’s section and then straight back out to the car from there. My experience in other parts of the library haven’t been pleasant so I avoided going back there. The books I want to read are never available and the ones I find interesting are typically stained, ripped, written on or water damaged.
So every week despite being inside the library I refused to check out any books for myself. I continued to buy books unnecessarily and worst yet never found the time to read them.
That is until a few months ago when I began reserving library books online. When my son was younger we read books three to four times a day. In the morning we read between six and ten books, before his afternoon nap we read another handful and before bed he chose another three.
Although we own boxes full of children’s books, (primarily gifts and hand-me-downs), I began to get bored from reading the same stories and rhymes day after day and week after week. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on books he may outgrow quickly so I searched for the best books for three and four year old children and searched the catalog at our local library.
While most of the books weren’t available immediately I submitted a simple online request to reserve them. A few days later I received an email alert that the books were all ready for pickup.
Every two to three weeks I pick up a new set of books and return the ones we checked out earlier in the month. The books I reserved are all waiting for me on a long shelf right next to the checkout desk. I simply walk in, search for my name on that shelf, gather up my books, scan everything and walk out the door. It typically takes less than five minutes from start to finish.
I find that the books are in much better condition than the ones I see on the shelves at the actual library. I can’t account for this discrepancy, but in the past three months I’ve only received one book with ripped pages and children’s scribbles.
My only regret is that I didn’t start using the online reservation system earlier. While I typically purchase used books from eBay and half.com I’m pretty certain that I still spent hundreds of dollars on books over the past few years. From this point forward I don’t intend to spend a dime.
One of the hardest things about purging is figuring out what on earth to do with all of the stuff we no longer need. After watching my husband clean out the garage I am surprised by just how differently we approach this problem.
While I cleaned out the majority of the house my husband was in charge of a small section of the basement and the garage. When it was his turn to remove clutter he pulled six large trash cans into the backyard and began tossing everything in sight into them.
A couple of things were tossed into a pile for family members, but the rest were pitched with little regard. He could have donated some of the stuff, but truth be told everything was in need of a good cleaning. Those Christmas bulbs may have worked, but who is going to dust off fifty little glass balls before bundling them up for donation? A few days later he rolled those trash cans to the street and early the next morning all that unwanted stuff was taken away. Within an hour or two his work was complete.
Unfortunately getting rid of stuff is not so easy for me. I tend to review every item carefully and ask myself whether or not we should keep it. I didn’t see my husband ponder for more than a second. He looked at each item and either pitched it into the trashcan or placed it back on the shelf.
It’s not so easy for me. I run through a series of options in my head. If we aren’t going to keep it should we donate it, toss it or try to sell it. If I sell it how much time and energy will it take to find a buyer? If I donate it when should I drive over to the donation center? Should I continue to gather items before making a trip over there or should I make a trip every time I fill a bag up?
Where do I store things while waiting to drag them off to donation and where do I hide things so extended family members don’t see the bags I plan to donate?
While I think some of the things my husband tossed could have been donated or sold I did appreciate his simple approach to getting rid of the junk. It seemed a whole lot easier than the mental hoops I jump through.
I settled on a few rules this time around that seemed to make my life easier.
- First, I set aside any new and/or like-new items in a drawer in my dresser. If I found anything new in a box or with tags still attached I turned to eBay to see if I could sell it. I put watches on similar listings and waited to see if they sold. If they sold I created a seven day listing and waited. If the items failed to sell I listed them one additional time.
- I didn’t waste time listing any items I didn’t think would sell or any items that would earn less than a $10 profit. Unfortunately I failed to earn that much on three or four of my transactions!
- I sold all of my books to book buying services. I know I could earn more selling each book individually, but I wanted the stuff out of my house so I sold them in big bundles and figured some cash back was better than nothing.
- I took a lot of trips to the donation center! I could have waited until I was finished with every room in the house, but just like the books my ultimate goal was to get these items out of my sight. Some nights I took the bags right out to the car, other times I stacked the items to be donated in large paper bags and stored them in a corner of my dining room. (I like the paper bag approach because unlike garbage bags you can line them up neatly.)
The amount of time I spent cleaning, compared to my husband, is quite shocking, but I still feel good about my approach. After all…
- Unlike the garage and basement a lot of the items within the main rooms of the house were in good condition and can be used by someone else. I would feel terribly guilty throwing anything away that could take on a second life.
- I made a small pocketful of change on the items I listed on eBay.
- By donating the majority of stuff and selling some things off to bulk buyers I didn’t earn as much as I probably could have, but I did get everything out of the house quickly!
November and December tend to be the two months of the year where we buy and receive a laundry list of gifts. The one key to making any holiday run a little bit smoother is organizing the receipts that come with each purchase. All those little tiny strips of paper are sure to get lost in your purse, wallet or shopping bag if you aren’t careful. A week or two after Christmas when your son’s sleeper doesn’t fit and your husband’s shirt is just a little too big you want to be able to dig up those receipts so you can enjoy hassle free returns.
My solution: a small plastic binder that can store receipts easily and efficiently. There are many ways to organize, but I like to label my binder tabs with the stores I frequent the most. My labels look a little like this:
- Home Depot
- Marshalls/TJ Maxx
Every single time I return from shopping, (whether it’s the holiday season or not), I gather up my receipts and place them directly into the appropriate compartment. If you have a spare minute write a description across the top of your receipt. For example, “red sweater,” “racing cars,” “blue sheets,” etc. I keep a pen clipped to the side of my binder so I can easily pull it out and write down exactly what I bought. Of course, this is easier for some stores than others. If you bought twenty things at Target just write down the key items you may one day need to return or try to classify them. For example, “pool toys” or “groceries.”
Once you write down the description, file that little piece of paper into your binder. Then weed through the compartments every few months and shred any receipts that are no longer useful. For example, Target permits returns for ninety days after purchase. If ninety days have passed go ahead and shred that tiny piece of paper.
Most stores list their return policies prominently on their websites and many permit returns for a short period of time; typically thirty to forty-five days. Make note of the timeline for returns so you can keep receipts on hand for as long as they are relevant. A few stores, like Kohl’s, will accept returns for much longer periods of time. I wouldn’t keep a Kohl’s receipt for years, but I wouldn’t hesitate to keep it stored away for five or six months.
During a particularly dark period in my life I attempted to alleviate stress by shopping. One week I would walk out of a store with a bag full of items and a few days later I would feel guilty and return everything I purchased. Thankfully I am no longer in this predicament, but during that time I learned that staying organized was the only way to receive full credit for my purchases.
Just a week or two ago I cleaned out the closets and found $54.36 worth of stuff we didn’t really need. Without my handy-dandy receipt organizer I wouldn’t have been able to return any of these items!
Do you have a method for storing receipts? Have you ever been a serial returner?
I’m pretty certain I’ve created a monster. After watching box after plastic box move out of our basement and into our garage my husband has suddenly declared everything must go! After nearly a month of work the contractors finished their remodeling efforts and my husband declared the downstairs a storage-free zone. He wants to keep the space as open as possible, which for the time being means he wants to see nothing but furniture and a very small number of toys.
The great purge began back in October as part of my crazy need to begin nesting. Five months later, and more trips to the donation center than I can possibly count, I can honestly say I have cataloged the majority of items in our house. I have touched just about every item, questioned it’s importance and either discarded, donated or found a proper place for it to reside.
I’m pretty proud of the dwindled down pile of plastic boxes remaining. The biggest offenders at this point are boxes filled with toys and clothes ranging from six months to four years. As you can imagine there are a lot of these boxes. The boxes are sorted by type and there is a box for every item of clothing; shoes, coats, pants, shorts, t-shirts, sweaters, sweatshirts and swim suits.
Part of me wants to ship all of these things out the front door and the rest of me thinks that’s crazy. After all, if I’ve held on to them for the past three years I might as well hold on to them for a few more. I know it would cost a lot of money to buy everything again, but I will kick myself if the majority of clothes don’t fit because child number one is born in the fall and child number two is due in the spring.
I also don’t want to part with the three or four bins of infant and toddler toys. Again I feel this is somewhat crazy as grandparents, aunts and uncles are always inundating my son with gifts. I’m pretty certain baby number two wouldn’t miss a beat if I sold everything today and set the toy pile for toys back to zero. If my husband had the ultimate say they would all be gone tomorrow.
Once baby number two is born I’ll have a better idea of his or her general size and growth patterns. That should sway the decision on what to keep and what to donate. Maybe that factor alone will help me decide just what I really should keep.
I find it difficult to part with things for practical reasons. My mind keeps telling me my next child will play with those toys or wear those hand-me-downs.
I’ve had similar, conflicting feelings about the ridiculous pile of gift bags and rolls of wrapping paper sitting in our basement. In my head I know that I probably paid less than $1 for any one item, yet as I look at the stack I hate to part with any of it. I know that one day I will need to wrap a gift or find a pretty gift bag for a special occasion.
Quite honestly I’ve convinced myself that I’m keeping them around for the convenience factor. After all, who wants to drive to the store with two kids in tow just to buy wrapping paper? The other part of me knows this is ridiculous. How many gifts do we give throughout the year? Not that many. The rolls in the basement may last me a lifetime.
This isn’t the first time I’ve struggled to part with strange things, yet every time it happens I’m surprised by either the sentimentality or the stubbornness with which I want to keep stuff I don’t need.
Have you ever struggled to get rid of something you know you don’t use? Do you find yourself holding on to things for practical reasons, when in reality you know you probably don’t need them?
I tried a couple of different approaches to offloading my unwanted belongings. Here is where I landed so far:
- eBay Sales: $86.37 for six items (more sales pending)
- Book Sales: $86.65
- DVD Sales: $11.97
- Returning Unwanted and Unused Items: $54.36
- Consignment: $18.72
Total earned after shipping and fees: $258.07.
What I learned along the way:
- I am not a fan of eBay. The fees for selling and shipping seem a whole lot higher than they used to be. After paying the 10% eBay fee, a PayPal fee, paying for shipping supplies and USPS labels my profits quickly dwindled. eBay sales felt like a general pain to me. Listing didn’t take a particularly long amount of time, but it does take a few minutes to take pictures, provide a description and post. A few buyers took forever to pay, which meant following up day after day and packing and driving the boxes to the post office wasn’t particularly fun either.
- Book buying sites make selling unwanted books so easy. I used bookscouter to price out the highest paying vendors and shipped packages to five different companies. While I might have earned more on eBay or half.com I enjoyed bundling everything up and shipping them off all at once. The downside: a couple of boxes were so big they required hand delivery to the post office and the post offices around my house, well quite frankly, suck. I didn’t want to wait in line for twenty minutes to ship $5 or $10 worth of books.
- I had no idea anyone would want to purchase a bunch of old children’s DVDs, but to my surprise we had a small stack of old movies that a few companies were willing to buy. I punched in the UPCs and compared bids. I sold a bunch of children’s videos we received as hand-me-downs from friends and family members. A few were worth $3 or $4, but most were worth around 50 cents. This isn’t getting rich money, but since they were headed out the door anyway I figured I might as well make a little money off of them.
- In digging through our closets I found a number of brand new items we didn’t really need. Included in that list were a few books I never got a chance to read and a couple of children’s toys. (It seems I bought a few too many things over the holidays.) I try to keep the receipts for everything I buy, so I gathered the items together and returned them. I know that buying books can be a huge waste of money for me. It’s a lesson I really need to keep at the forefront of my mind. For some reason the temptation to buy more is always lingering.
- I wrote about my consignment adventure yesterday. I certainly didn’t earn much from my haul, but a larger volume might bring in more cash next time. I would certainly consider this route after baby number two outgrows the infant toys and baby gear a year or so from now.
Do you have any other ideas for purging stuff? How do you get rid of unwanted possessions?
As a result of all of the remodeling taking place in our house my husband has become mildly obsessed with the topic of removing clutter from our lives. This is nothing new for me. As a small child I worked hard to keep the smooth surfaces of my room clean. I found a place for each and every toy and put them back in their place after playing with them. Neat and orderly and a little bit strange, yup that’s me.
My parents don’t keep a particularly messy house, but I don’t believe I inherited this trait from them. I think it’s just a way of keeping my mind at ease. I suppose I need a lot of physical space in order to free up mental space. It’s one of the reasons I often cleaned my room before writing a term paper or studying for an exam. The distractions of the physical world make it difficult for me to concentrate so I do my best not to allow messes to build around me.
My husband has always been relatively neat, but his spaces in the house, (a table for tinkering, his office and the garage), are far from tidy. It’s funny to see how this renovation is causing him to jump on the less is more band wagon.
In fact, he’s been so excited about the paring down of stuff in our house that he recently started talking to coworkers about his desire to corral toys and organize common household items. He took pictures of my super organized closets and shared them with a few close friends.
They returned the favor by sending him photographs of their own homes, which are the complete opposite of mine. Mounds of clothing cover kitchen tables and every inch of counter and surface space. In fact, there are so many items in those homes that the homeowners are unable to close bathroom doors or sleep on their beds without moving the clutter out of the way first.
This is not the first time we’ve seen or heard of a situation like this. When a family member set up the nursery for her son she could only set aside three drawers of a very tiny dresser. The rest of the closets and dressers in her home, including closets in the basement and hallways, were filled with clothing she wouldn’t part with. Every inch of space was filled to capacity and it was nearly impossible to slide a hanger on or off of any rack. The closets couldn’t contain everything she owned. The rest of her clothing was draped over couches and other furniture in the basement.
I’ve written many times about my inability to find clothes that fit. I find it terribly frustrating to search for clothes, so most of the times I simply avoid shopping. When my son was born I did feel a strange desire to shop for him. Between hand-me-downs and trips to the store his dresser quickly filled with adorable little outfits.
In the beginning I photographed him nearly every day and I liked looking at different shirts and pants each time I glanced through the photographs. These days I take a lot less pictures. I also realize that it’s silly to buy clothes for a kid that will outgrow them so quickly.
How many articles of clothing can one little boy wear anyway? These days whenever I receive a bag of hand-me-downs I quickly pick through the things I like best and donate the rest. I buy very few new items and typically only shop from the clearance racks. I keep the tags on most items and the receipts in case I look in the closet and see too many of one particular item. If I’ve learned anything in these three short years it’s that my son gets hot easily, so a handful of sweaters and sweatshirts are all he needs. He typically wears long sleeve or short sleeve t-shirts.
My grandmother told me she owned four dresses as a child. It cost a lot of money to buy clothing back then so she told me most families owned very little of it. Now clothing is so inexpensive that it’s easy to stock up and get overwhelmed by the sheer weight of it.
I know houses can be filled with all sorts of clutter. In our house the source is typically toys, but in many other households the culprit appears to be clothes. Particularly shirts, pants, sweaters and dresses that take up space without getting worn.
At one point in time I probably wore less than 30% of my overall wardrobe. I owned a closet full of clothes but typically only reached for the ones that were soft and comfortable. After purging that number has probably increased to closer to 80% so it seems I still have room for improvement.
Do you suffer from an overabundance of clothing? How many of the items hanging in your closet are actually worn?
If you are looking for a good way to purge all of your possessions might I suggest a large remodeling job? In order for contractors to dig up our floor, build new walls and reconstruct a bathroom we had to remove each and every item we own from our basement.
I began purging the stuff that was located down there many months ago, as part of my crazy nesting process, but when the contractors arrived a few weeks ago they began moving everything else out too.
Thankfully the pile was much smaller than when I started back in November, but surprisingly there is still quite a bit to process.
I’ll need to perform another round of should this stay or should this go and then figure out where on earth to store the remaining items we wish to retain. While everything is tucked away nicely in plastic storage bins I really don’t want to stare at those bins while enjoying the new open spaces of our basement.
I feel the urge to purge, which means at least a few more bags will be headed out to the donation center this weekend. Taking a second glance at the same pile of stuff is helping me reevaluate my desire to store stuff. It seems I’m more willing to part with items I wanted to keep just one month ago.
All of my nesting and purging has driven my husband to want to donate everything we own to charity. All of the sudden the guy who wanted fine china wants to get rid of the entire china cabinet. “Why keep things around we aren’t using when we can make room for the things we do use?,” he asked.
It’s a good question and one I can’t argue with too much. If we removed the china cabinet we could make room for my son’s art supplies and bounty of play dough. Perhaps it’s time to officially give up on the notion of entertaining. We’ve owned that china for 10 years now and taken it out of the cabinet a mere two times!
It feels weird to consider removing it though. Can I really get rid of it all together? We don’t use our china and fine glassware but I do use a number of bowls and serving platters located within it. Where would I store those? Ugh, I’m completely on the fence about this one.
On the plus side remodeling forced us to clean out our spare refrigerator and freezer. In order to install flooring everything had to be moved to the upstairs fridge. It was a great time to throw out old condiments and half opened jars of sauce that would never have been eaten.
Prior to this point I donated and recycled just about everything I didn’t want in our basement, but during this last pass through I decided to eBay a few items. I’m honestly not sure that it will be worth my trouble to do so, but I couldn’t resist the desire to see how much I could earn. I have a feeling I will be terribly disappointed by the results. That’s usually what happens when I list items on eBay.
I also bundled and sold a small pile of books to the highest bidder. I used bookscouter to select the highest paying companies and will ship off the books after the snow melts this week. I know I could sell these for more on eBay or half.com but I really don’t want to go through the hassle of individually mailing books. I’m much happier sending a big pile out the door all at once.
I whittled my book pile down to ten books, five of which have never been read! I also pruned my son’s library, but I kept the majority of his books (all five boxes worth). He is a voracious reader who began spelling words long before he turned three. I don’t want to curb his enthusiasm for the written word though I really need to make better use of our library. It’s right around the corner from our house so distance is not an excuse to ignore it. I took my son last week and he loved picking out books and bringing them home. I also realized the baby board books take up a ton of space. I won’t mind getting rid of those after baby #2 outgrows them.
I am growing tired of sorting and reorganizing this stuff and the longer I do it the more I want to part with the majority of our possessions. My philosophy for things is definitely changing each time I open another box or take another trip to the donation center.
Where I once thought let’s keep this in case we need it I now think let’s get rid of it and buy it again if we really need to. This is certainly not the frugal approach, but it does free up a lot of space in our lives. On the flip side of this coin I now think very carefully about all new purchases. If I never bring it into the house I don’t have to wrestle with storing it and eventually struggling with the decision to part with it.
With my obsessive nesting nearly complete I stepped back last night to reflect on my decluttering, purging, streamlining process. I actually learned quite a bit about myself from this experience.
- Over the years we’ve bought a lot of stuff we just don’t need. The amount of wasted money made me sick to stomach. How many items did I find that were rarely if ever used? Way too many! I’ve gotten much better about not buying unnecessary stuff over the years, but this big dig was a great reminder that I don’t want ever want to revert to buying things that we won’t really use. I will be much more careful about future purchases!
- Unwanted gifts will no longer be kept in our house. I love all my friends and family, but I will not hold onto something just because someone else bought it for me. That sounds rather heartless but I don’t want to keep unwanted items just to spare a family member’s feelings.
- When I got married I registered incorrectly for a life I don’t have and don’t particularly want to live. Fine china, silver serving platters and glass vases are all taking up space in my very fancy china cabinet. China that has only been used two times in ten years!
- Having kids changed my priorities. These days the focus is on things that can’t be broken or destroyed when dropped or colored on. I don’t want to buy anything that doesn’t meet this criteria.
- What goes on sale today will probably go on sale again a day, week or month from now. Stocking up on clothes and toys is often unnecessary and an utter pain to store, organize and keep track of.
- Moving stuff to the basement is rarely a good idea. Odds are if I don’t need it right now I won’t need it at any point in the future. The majority of books, knickknacks and other items that made their way into the basement never returned to see the light of day. It was a waste of energy to move them from point A to point B only to remove them entirely from my home a few months or years later. Next time they head straight out the door.
- Books are a huge waste of money if I never find the time to read them. I am not allowed to bring any new books into the house until I read the ones I already own. After I read them I will pass them on to someone else. I almost never read the same book more than one time so why on earth am I putting them on a bookshelf for later.
- I shouldn’t be afraid to purge things I’m not using. Looking over the large bins of clothing in our basement I now wonder if our next child will wear any of the items I stored. Most people probably have better luck conceiving than I did, but given that our two children will be born in opposite seasons I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to pass down.
- Stocking up on pantry staples can be a good idea, but not if we don’t eat the items I purchase. One spare bottle of ketchup, salad dressing, mustard, etc. is plenty to keep on hand. If food in the pantry gets more than two layers deep I tend to lose track of what’s inside of it.
- I want to limit the amount of paperwork we retain. Other than handwritten notes everything else will be scanned and shredded. Goodbye, huge filing cabinet and good riddance!
I don’t need to purge everything from our house, but I do want to make sure the items we retain from this point forward are actually useful. I don’t want to waste any more time reorganizing!
So it seems the start time for remodeling our basement has moved up by nearly two months. Rather than beginning in late February or early March the contractors may be able to squeeze us in the first week of January. That means stepping up my game and digging everything out of the basement much earlier than expected.
Today I tackled the pantry. We don’t keep a lot of food in the basement, but we do store two or three shelves of excess items like spare bottles of ketchup, salad dressing, sauces and seasonings. Our kitchen is incredibly small so we don’t have a whole lot of room for storing anything but the bare necessities. I managed to move things around ever so slightly in an upstairs closet to make room for the surplus. While we probably won’t need any of these items during construction I didn’t like the idea of leaving food in a place that is bound to fill with dust and debris.
I also carried up a box or two full of glass items that might have incurred damage during construction. I initially planned to migrate these upstairs, but after digging through everything I changed my mind and decided to donate them instead. We haven’t touched many of these things in years and it seems silly to find new storage places for things we simply aren’t using. Some of these items were rather expensive. I’m certain the priciest were cut glass vases and drinking cups that cost at least $100 when purchased new. It pained me to get rid of them, but I am hopeful they will find a new home where they can be used much more frequently.
My pregnancy is beginning to catch up with me. Last week I could have walked up and down the steps a hundred times. Today I was tired after just a few trips. I decided it’s probably not wise to haul too much more stuff out of the basement. Whatever is left down there will probably remain. I may place a few last things in plastic tubs, but after that I’m officially finished. At least for the time being. I know there are at least a few other toys I could donate without making a dent in our overall toy pile, but for now they will be boxed up. After the remodeling is complete I’ll probably pass them on to another family.
Upstairs I bought a new elfa shelf to further organize the little room we use for storage. I put it where the filing cabinet used to reside. It wasn’t cheap. I spent just over $175 for the shelves and corresponding parts, but that corner of our world is now neatly organized. We needed a more efficient way to store towels, sheets and other bedding so I bought an extra wide version, which serves its purpose quite perfectly.
I also bought a few square containers to corral toys. I bought three at $5.99 each. This still isn’t the best solution, but for now it freed up much needed floor space. My son is getting better about putting his toys away before heading upstairs so that’s definitely helping too.
We bought a new bed for our little guy with hopes that he’ll happily hand over his crib and a new dresser for the baby’s room. That added another $900 to the overall total.
As I mentioned in my last post I set a deadline of December 31st for all nesting, but it seems I only have four more days until we head out of town so I am clearly running out of time to do much more. As I look around the rooms I cannot believe all that I have organized and purged. I want to focus the next three months on spending time as a family of three. Removing the clutter from our lives will definitely help me make mental and physical space for that.
My nesting obsession continues to haunt me. When my son was born I had absolutely no idea what to expect. This time around I know there is a good chance that I’ll be absolutely exhausted for those first two to three months. Three years ago I exclusively nursed and my son was not a good sleeper, which meant waking up around the clock to feed him. My husband would take on diaper duties and pick him up and hand him over, but the rest of the work was up to me and I was quite frankly exhausted. If I was that tired three years ago with just one kid I cannot imagine how depleted I’ll feel this time around. Everyone tells me the bounce back time is shorter the second time, but I’m not so sure I believe them.
In addition to the typical decluttering, cleaning, nesting compulsions I recently had the wacky idea to pay someone to gut and remodel our basement. Since I’m in the second trimester and filled with a ridiculous amount of energy I decided to take on the sea of plastic containers myself. Demolition won’t actually begin until sometime in late February or early March, but I certainly don’t want to wait until the third semester to begin sorting through stuff and I don’t want to deal with any of the dust and debris that construction might kick up down there.
I’ve located all of the baby related stuff we might need for the first month or two. As I mentioned in a previous post I didn’t keep very many baby clothes in the zero to three month range, but there is a decent amount of baby equipment, blankets and co-sleeper related items hiding down there. I corralled the majority of it, but still need to spend some time sorting through the bins to see what’s really useful.
While I was digging I rummaged through the rest of the basement and purged and organized as much as I could. I can only work on this when my son is in preschool or taking a nap, so while this task may have taken just a week to complete it has actually been a work in progress for the better part of a month.
I donated a lot of things I didn’t love and took more trips to the donation center than I can count. The majority of items remaining are clothes that may or may not be used by our second child. Since the first and second will be born in opposite seasons I’m not certain much will be reused. Part of it will also depend on the height of this baby. My son is unbelievably tall for his age, but if the next one is an average height some of the clothes may actually fit during the appropriate seasons. I got rid of some hand-me-downs that weren’t in the best of shape, but decided to keep everything else a little bit longer. After all, some of this stuff has been hiding out in our basement for over three years, how is a few more months or even another year of storage going to hurt me?
The basement isn’t the only area I’ve tackled. In the midst of my reorganizing I decided to dive into the contents of a very large filing cabinet. That awful metal contraption took up a lot of space in a tiny room and I really wanted it out of there.
I shredded and recycled a small portion of the papers it held then got to work scanning the rest of them. I wish I had one of those ultra fast, high speed scanners at work, where I could load fifty papers and call it a day. Our scanner can only handle one page at a time so this process feels like its taking forever. I’m sure I’ve scanned at least five hundred documents over the past week. I scan as many as I can while my son is napping and I’m happy to see the pile dramatically dwindling. I can now fit all of the remaining papers in one box and the filing cabinet has already made its way out of the house!
Its actually been quite fun to comb through that filing cabinet. Among the treasures are love letters from my husband that were written over eighteen years ago, a postcard from a now deceased friend, piles of notes from my middle school years and a long lost envelope full of stickers I collected as a child. I also found handwritten stories I wrote as a teenager and journals I honestly didn’t remember writing in the first place. I am keeping some of the handwritten mementos and shredding others. With a digital copy available I don’t feel the need to retain all of the originals, but some things are too sentimental to shred.
I’m not finished organizing everything but I can feel the end is near. I still haven’t thought much about the baby’s future room, but I did ask my husband to remove an old dresser so I can make space for the things I’ve dug out of the basement. It’s strange how preoccupied I am with the rest of the house. I am trying to make space for all of the stuff that is about to make its way out of closets and drawers. Before my son was born we had plenty of room for baby swings and bouncy seats. This time the nooks and crannies of our home are filled with toys, which means a lot of things need to be moved out of the way to make space. My next goal is to tackle a toy rotation of sorts. I need to limit the number of toys swelling in our living room, which is also the room where my son plays.
My goal is to be done with this crazy nesting by the time the third trimester begins. Considering we’ll be on vacation when that time comes it seems I have exactly two weeks to finish!