‘Tis the season of holiday greetings, joyous occasions and truck loads full of stuff. Last week we talked about reflecting back on your year and doing a mental inventory of things you accomplished, goals you want to continue, and habits you want to change in preparation for 2019. This week I wanted to talk about a taking a physical inventory – what do you have, what do you need and what should you get rid of before it gets replenished at Christmas.
Let’s start with clothes –
There are a couple of different ways that you can go about cleaning out your clothes: a quick way a slower process, and one in-between. The quick way helps eliminate the overwhelm of the task if you have let it go for too long. Pick a size; anything not that size, goes. I use this method particularly with my kids (who could probably go a full month without wearing the same clothes) but have used it on myself before too. Last round with the toddler, anything that was smaller than a 4T was gone. With the middle schooler last year: anything not a 10-12 got packed away to donate. I will usually let them pick 3-5 of their FAVORITES that get worn weekly to keep as exceptions. Quick, easy and done!
The slower method focuses on what you actually wear: on January 1, turn all of your hangers around backward. As you do laundry and hang things up, you will naturally put the hangers the right way so that by March 1, anything that is still hanging backward gets pulled because it hasn’t been worn in three months. You can do this seasonally if you need to; here in Texas everything is in season all the time so it wouldn’t make much of a difference. Exceptions to this longer method: special occasion outfits (formal wear, etc.), coats and jackets (use your judgement call); anything with holes, tears, rips or stains – those just go.
An in-between method you could use that doesn’t take three months, but will take a little longer than the size process is to take everything out of your closet and out of your drawers. EVERYTHING. Pile it all up on your bed and go through each item individually. If you can’t remember the last time you wore it, it’s time for it to be donated. If it’s ripped or stained, toss it. Otherwise, it can get folded or hung up and put away. This gives you a timeframe (before bed or you’re sleeping on the couch) but can take a good chunk of the day if you have a lot of clothes.
Kids rooms –
Toys and games. Everyone loves them. No one likes to clean them up. You kids are fixing to get more of them and there is already no where to put them! I mentioned a while back that we do the Four Gift Christmas – part of that was to help staunch the pure overwhelm of toys that flow in to our house from other relatives this time of year. On top of that, the youngest has a birthday in December so it’s a double whammy!
If your kids are old enough to help with this process, let them. If not, make the decisions based on what you see them playing with most. This can be an individual process (if you kids are spread out in age I would recommend this) or a group process (if they share a lot of toys). Set a number (10, 15, 20…whatever the two of you agree on) and that’s how many toys they get to keep. NOW – take half of those and put them away; box in the top of the closet, tub in the garage, somewhere that it is not easily accessible. Remind your kid that Christmas is coming and they are about to get new toys when they start panicking or whining about having nothing to play with. In three to four months, rotate out the older toys with the ones you stashed away. Chances are pretty good they already forgot about those so it will be like Christmas all over again!
Exceptions: handmade toys from special family members; childhood favorites (the bear they sleep with every single night doesn’t count in the number); broken or damaged is an automatic toss.
Book Shelves –
Just keep them all. Someone will read them at some point! Just kidding (but I wish I wasn’t). If you don’t see yourself reading the book again within the next six months, pass it along. Keep children’s books until the last kid has outgrown them. Then keep each kid’s top ten favorites for when you have grandkids come over! We have the benefit of having three cousins down the street that are between the oldest two and the youngest age-wise so we passed along a lot of books for them to use until they are ready to pass them back! Find a few friends and rotate book collections so each family gets the benefit of new stories without having to keep them all permanently.
Full disclosure: I don’t follow this advice. My youngest LOVES books and reading so I’m keeping them all forever in the hopes that she continues that trend. I also love reading and books and feel the need to own every book of every series that I’ve ever read. I think that I have cleaned out my personal collection once in the last ten years and that’s only because we were rearranging the living room and had to condense.
What areas are you preparing to clean out before the holiday truckload arrives?