The Downsizing Chronicles: Getting Rid of the Good Stuff

Over our previous moves, we got rid of a lot of stuff. What remained could be grouped into three categories:

Our Favorite Homeschooling Books

Our Favorite Toys

Our Favorite Mementos

Now, since we finished homeschooling our 18-year-old in June, you might be wondering why I kept so many homeschooling books. Well, for the same reason I wanted to keep the toys: for the grandchildren I may get someday.

Yep, I know it’s silly, but I just couldn’t let go of those things. Never mind that I don’t know if my grandchildren will be homeschooled. How can you get rid of Saxon 54? Or the Miller family series of Amish stories? Or the Holling Clancy Holling books?

Did I mention that books are heavy and take up lots of boxes?

Then there are the toys. For instance, every time I looked at the Little Tykes kitchen set, I remembered my eldest two children (then ages 3 and 2) excitedly watching the UPS man as he delivered the enormous box that contained their new kitchen set, which I had paid for with Huggies points. (Do they still have those?) How could I get rid of that?

As for the mementos, I find that I lose my memories unless I find items to trigger them. So it’s hard for me to give up the items because I’ll lose the memories. That explains why I kept little fuzzy sleepers and my kids’ favorite dolls and my son’s Sesame Street metal car collection (dang, those things are heavy!)

But we no longer have room for most of these treasures. And when I think about it, why should they sit in boxes and plastic containers when other children (children who exist right this moment, as opposed to my someday-grandchildren) could be getting use out of them?

That’s why we’ve been giving things away, and selling big things on Craig’s List, and just plain clearing most of it out. It is not easy. But I think it’s the right thing to do.

(Full disclosure: I didn’t get rid of all our best homeschooling books. I’m keeping the very best on our shelves, and that includes the Saxon 54, the Millers and the HCH books. But I’ve decided I’m not keeping books in boxes anymore. So I’m keeping what I can fit on the bookshelves, and the rest have to go!)

By the way, which of your homeschooling books are your favorites, the ones you’ll never let go of?

The Downsizing Chronicles: Pitching What Won’t Fit

Our new home has just over 1,000 square feet upstairs plus a basement. Our last rental home had over 2,000 square feet upstairs plus a basement. You see the problem here.

I keep thinking it’s like trying to fit a size 12 foot in a size 9 shoe. Despite all the purging we did over the last two moves, we have to get rid of more stuff in order to fit four people and their stuff in this house.

I decided not to let anything in the house that isn’t going to stay here. So you can imagine what the garage looks like.

Someone suggested that had I spent more time over the last 30 years getting rid of stuff instead of keeping it, I would be better off.

I thought about that for a while. At first, it sounded right. But then I realized that while I did go through things at times, I was never forced to do a major purge because we lived in a big house that allowed me to store things instead of getting rid of them. Also (and most importantly), I was so busy raising and homeschooling four kids that I never had time to do a major purge.

And that’s ok, because I spent the time I could have spent going through stuff doing more important things, like explaining algebra, playing games, and reading to my kids. Now that they’re grown, I have more time to go through everything. So while going through all this stuff now isn’t a lot of fun, I’m glad I had the time with my kids when they were home.

So if you have lots of kids and lots of clutter, take heart. Someday you can take care of the clutter. But the time to take care of the kids is now.

Nobody Told Me That Homeschooling Would Create So Much Clutter!

I first heard about homeschooling when our eldest was a newborn and our child-related clutter was limited to a diaper bag, a playpen and a few baby toys and stuffed animals.

Fast-forward 26 years…..after two moves in two years, we continue to fight the paring- down battle of stuff even though two children have left home and two remain. In one box I find old bottles of tempera paints that are easy to pitch because they’re all dried up. In another I find a set of rubber stamps that bring back memories of my children stamping out their names in ink and coloring in the letters. Still perfectly good and made much sturdier than what can be found in stores today, they’re not so easy to give up because of their condition and the fact that they bring back so many memories. Multiply that by many boxes’ worth of art supplies, books, drawings, book reports, educational games, hobby supplies and small craft projects (at least I didn’t keep the big ones!), and you can understand why it’s taking us so long to go through everything. Continue reading