11 March 2010

Dirty Little Secret

So we've been packing the house, rather poorly.  It sounds easy on the surface - tidy up so you can put your home on the market.  In reality, this is not a simple task.  How to keep a house clean enough to have a showing at the drop of a hat?  How do I pick and choose which things (okay, fabric) I can live without for some indefinite amount of time?

What this whole process has truly shown me is that we have too much stuff.  We have too much stuff, and too much stuff on, around, and inside of all of that stuff.  When we first moved into this home, it felt so spacious.  We had no children, and we moved from a cramped, dark condo.  In the six years since then, we've slowly filled up each nook and cranny with things that seemed indispensable.  Wait, that's not even accurate.  The house has filled up with things that we are too lazy to bring attention to.

I once read a blog post where the writer confessed to throwing random things and paperwork into laundry baskets, then stashing them away to be forgotten until some other time.  I confess to this method myself, and also to having run out of laundry baskets and moved on to crates, shoeboxes, and precarious piles.

Thus the whole moving situation has shed light upon this bad habit, in a very discouraging way.  It is nothing but miserable to dig through this amassed stuff and sort through it in a timely manner.  The worst vice of all, I think, (which is nearly unconfessable, it is so embarassing) is the evidence of my ugly magazine habit.  My stacks of magazines rival my children in height, and certainly outnumber them.  I just can't throw the darn things away.  What if I miss a recipe that could become a family favorite, or a craft that will be transformative of my life?  (I know, seriously.)

I've taken to grabbing a handful of magazines, whenever I have a free moment, and flipping through them, tearing out recipes and articles of interest.  The rest goes into the recycle bin.  Now, I know that an alternative is to donate them, but as yet I've had no takers.  Having done this now, I see that what I get out of each magazine is pretty minimal, and that I will probably only use or look at a small fraction of the articles I have saved.  At least I'm taking small steps and reducing greatly the amount of space they take up in our lives.  The next step, of course, is to not renew them.

We've also done a massive purge of our clothing over the last two months.  I had clothes from college, clothes from pre-, post- and between-babies.  So far I've donated over eighty shirts (!!!), a dozen sweaters and as many dresses, thirty pants, and many coats, bags, and pairs of shoes.  I think there's more.

Shannon Kinney-Duh has a project going on over at her blog called Reducing Clutter, Creating Space.  In a timely coincidence, her March theme is clothes.  Read her post for more.