I really am tired of that one last post taking up my whole front page so here goes me trying to push it off. So, I have a question and it's a serious question for you moms out there who say "I can't purge" or "I don't know how to purge". I get that some people don't like to purge. I have to admit, purging and cleaning out is something that comes very naturally for me... so much so that I get the urge to purge regularly about 2 to 3x's a year. But it didn't always come so naturally! I'll wait for my mom to stop laughing now... I was a packrat when I lived at home! (I'm so sorry, Mom!) And I HATED cleaning my room! But I only had one brother and almost always had a room to myself so about the time I got to college and I had to share a teeny tiny little dorm room with a girl who ended up being even messier than me, all of my mother's teachings about taking care of my space and cleaning and organizing and getting rid of excess kicked into overdrive. (Thanks, Mom!)
So, I really am serious when I ask... what do you mean when you say you "can't" or "don't know how" to purge? Is it a problem with Analysis Paralysis? Do you start to clean out and then find yourself in a vortex of "but it's missing a piece and I know the piece is here somewhere and the thing is practically useless without that piece so we can't get rid of it until we find that PIECE"? Or do you think it's an emotional attachment? The memories that come flooding when you pick up that little doohickey that your oldest child loved so much keeps it rooted to the spot you found it in. Or is it maybe that you know that someone would really love it but you just haven't found that person yet? Or maybe it's a case of "well, we don't use this much now, but we might in the future"? Inquiring minds want to know!
And for those of you who love to purge or maybe don't love it but make yourselves do it anyway... do you have any advice or thoughts you'd like to share? Maybe... how you were first motivated to lump it and dump it?
I struggle with purging I think because I grew up in a strange sort of gypsie-ish environment where we were always getting rid of everything and starting fresh and nothing was allowed to have sentimental value. "Material things are an illusion!" and all that. So now I guess I've gone too far on the other side. And I hate spending money. So if we keep ALL THE THINGS, maybe I can just stop buying stuff eventually? Something like that? That being said, I'm kind of a rockstar at tedious tasks and organizing once I finally commit to the idea :)ReplyDelete
OK... I can understand that. My husband used to be a little like that because his family moved a lot and he felt like stuff was always getting tossed to make moving easier. One of the best pieces of advice I have ever heard came from Peter Walsh who said that you lower the meaning of the value of the things you are attached to by being attached to everything. He says that you can have special things and you should have special things but that you should honor those things by displaying them beautifully, not just shoving them in a box with lots of other things you think are just as special. That made a huge change in my attitude towards sentimental things. Thanks for chatting!Delete
Dear Dwija, please come to my house and be a rockstar. Please. For the love of all that is holy and good.Delete
~Your devoted fan and Sister-In-Law.
For me, I get caught up in all the money I spent on whatever it is I am purging (usually fabric, craft supplies, books or baking supplies). It makes me crazy to think that I spent all that money on whatever and then I let it sit there and two years later I give it away. Other than not allowing myself to buy anything else, I am not sure how to overcome the situation. I am tired of living in clutter with little piles everywhere. It's time to be a grown-up. A little self discipline would go a long way.ReplyDelete
I CAN purge, it is actually finding the time to do so. I am in that brief time of family life with much older AND much younger children so while I may not be as busy dealing with the issues of babies and toddlers, I am more busy taking teens to work as well as the general youth group related activities + the needs of youngsters. When I purge, I tend to be 'all in' and I love the process, but it is time consuming. I keep pushing back on accomplishing 'the purge' until I have an adequate amount of time to devote to it, but am realizing that chunk of time may not materialize in the near future. I need to overhaul my system of purging and come up with something more quick and perhaps less thorough. Great topic!ReplyDelete
Yes, yes, and yes. All of the above. I agree with 9peasMom on the fact that when I purge, I need time to devote to it. Things get better before they get worse and if I'm going to take the time to go through a closet or tackle sorting baby clothes, I need to make sure I can dedicate a decent chunk of time so I can finish completely rather than leaving piles all over the house to deal with "another time."ReplyDelete
It's also a sentimental thing. I just can't bring myself to get rid of that box of papers from my elementary school days, or the snapshots from marching band in high school. Yes, the memories will always be there, but it's the principle of the thing.
And lastly, it's "what if I can use this sometime...". Recently, I had been holding on to a bag of ball pit balls someone had given my husband. After having to clean them up one too many times, I banished them to the garage where they stayed "just in case" for 18 months. I finally gathered up the nerve to take them to Goodwill and here I am three months later needing those balls for a party I'm throwing a 2 year old family friend. GAH!
The best book I ever read on de-cluttering was 'Clutter's Last Stand' in it he said that there is a chance that 5% of what you throw you will regret (think I'm right in remembering that) anyhow in 20 years of marriage there have only been 2 items I have regretted and actually my husband regretted. He is more of a packrat than me, btw I tossed them without his permission, ouch. I don;t do that anymore
I like to purge. For me it's not quite an obsession, but close. ;) Having clutter -- even cute kid-made clutter -- makes me anxious inside -- I'm not sure why, but it just does. So, less is best for me. I don't do a big purge .. I "purge as I go" -- almost daily I pick something or two or three up from the house that goes into the laundry room that's right next to the garage. After a week or two, there's enough for me to make a drive to the local thrift store and deposit it with them. For the kids' handmade stuff/schoolwork/Mother's Day gifts -- I started taking photos of them so that way they are on my computer and one day, if I ever get the time, I'll arrange them onto nice pages and print them up and make an album of them. I only keep a few items, and as you said, Charlotte, these have meaning to me and are of value now that they are kept on display. And the kids KNOW these have meaning for me. I think they cherish that as well.ReplyDelete
Okay I like de-cluttering but.. I also love finding bargains, so I have to stop going to garage sales and opshops just to look for bargains. So now I only go if I have something I need to find.ReplyDelete
Also it isn't just about me, I go to toss something but 10 other people have to agree! okay I exaggerate, but certain other people have to okay it depending on what the item is.
Sometimes it is just a matter of getting started, once we get the ball rolling all good. I do periodic cullings, so everyone is 'in the groove' we're not overly sentimental but alot of people across both genders and a big age does mean many things are still relevant.
I love purging! but I live with some who don't. When we moved in with my mother in law she had a shelf in her garage filled with old coffee carafes from probably every coffee maker she had for the last 20 years. My husband freaks out everytime I purge, so I have to do it when he is not home.ReplyDelete
Their mantara is always, "But I might need it someday!" "What if the carafe breaks?" What if I gain weight again, I like that shirt!" So on and so forth.
The thing is that usually it is the coffee maker that goes, not the carafe. And if you do gain weight, loose weight, etc you won't want to wear that shirt, you will want a new one. So, I try to help them see those things and if they don't see it, I just purge when they aren't home.
My mother in law is a master though. Her pack-rat tendencies are like an art. You would never imagine just how much stuff she has packed in her room or hidden in the garage. you seriously would never know just walking in to her room. But every drawer is crammed full, every cabinet, under the bed, etc. But it looks all neat and tidy. It is amazing. I never could have that much stuff and keep it anywhere near looking clean!
Oh, how should I explain this. I do like getting rid of clutter, stuff that don't mean anything to me. Its the items that have a special place in my heart. My books, the books that I collected over the years for my kids. Certain clothes that have been handed down from child to child. Like cultural dresses. We have traditional dresses that we have had in our family for decades. We do use them. 3 years I have let the younger grades at the kids school use them for a multicultural events. I guess in so many ways I'm just like my Mom. I have so much stuff that I just can't let go off.ReplyDelete
When my children see me coming with an empty box, they immediately rush to their rooms and hide their prized possessions. Doug has forbidden my entrance in his closet as he's convinced he'll come home from work one day to find it gutted. (Ok, the the thing about the kids is an exaggeration. The thing about Doug - true.) Dropping off a load of boxes at Goodwill - I get an adrenaline rush just thinking about it. Those guys that man the trailers - we're on a first name basis.ReplyDelete
I love purging. But I do indeed suffer from analysis paralysis, and lack of time to do it.ReplyDelete
I love clean, uncluttered closets...the one thing I enjoy about moving (as we do frequently) is the process of going through everything and putting it exactly where it belongs or getting rid of it - either before the movers pack it up or as we unpack. You really have to evaluate your possessions when you move them...and we have a weight allowance, so moving more than that weight means WE pay for it. The weight allowance does not go up with more kids, and we are right on the edge. I won't pay to move things I don't love. I definitely suffer anxiety from clutter...I live with it daily, and nobody really gets how much it bothers me. I have threatened to send my kids to school just so I can spend my day happily cleaning... My biggest problems: having enough hours in the day to declutter, constantly fighting the hoarding tendencies of every single member of my family (my children raid the recycle bucket all the time to make more stuff to clutter their rooms), and not feeling free to get rid of things gifted to me or to my family. Thank goodness my husband understands that things that need to be dusted are not appreciated, so he directs his own purchases and those of the children accordingly. We have no control over extended family who seem to love knick knacks.ReplyDelete
Oh no! I just spent 30 minutes during which I could have been sleeping writing a post, and it is lost! It was so beautiful and touching, it would have brought tears to your eyes and changed your life forever!ReplyDelete
Ok, not really, but I dd write for 30 minutes when I could have been sleeping!
Anyway, in a nutshell:
1) I need time and energy to declutter, which I do not have at the moment.
2) I have 10 kids, and they each need some stuff, whether we have room for it or not.
3) I would love to live in a monastery-bare environment, but I know that my family would probably not like it.
4) We are going to move within 12 months (probably much sooner), and I do not want to take most of this stuff with us.
5) Pray for me, a former packrat who wants to be free!
I struggle with this for all the reasons people said above but my hardest is that I am a purger but I have one daughter who would save EVERYTHING if I let her. She has stacks of old American Girl magazines because as they retired the dolls she would not see them anymore. She shares a room with her OCD sister who's anxiety level gets extreme in a messy room. All this leads to me finding a very very thin line of hoarding and decluttering!ReplyDelete
My mother is a collector. I don't want to say hoarder, but she is incapable of purging and it frustrates me. She just brought me boxes of my old things and they are likely going straight to Goodwill. I let the kids have more clutter than I'd like but I don't want them to feel like they can't have special things, so I try to find a balance.ReplyDelete
I found the approach to decluttering that Flylady (Flylady.net) uses to be very helpful. Lots of people saytheyneed time, and then they are fully committed tothe whole overhaul, til it's done. The problem with that is, that six hour chunk of time is never! And if we start, and pull everything out of the closet at once, and then run out of time, then we have a disaster. I found choosing a short time, like 20 minutes, or thirty, to be so helpful! You pull out what you can manage kn that time, and when your timer goes off, put away, throw away or give away everything you got out. Plan to do a small chunk of time a day. Very doable!ReplyDelete
I'm jumping in on this late because I just found it! Not sure how I missed it.ReplyDelete
I have several different problems with purging.
First, yes, analysis paralysis. I think I can purge until I actually sit down to do it and then I find all the sentimental attachment and the we might use it someday and this is still pretty nice it needs to go to someone who can use it....
And the time issue is huge too. For the last eight years I've been pregnant or had a nursing baby or both.... finding time for big projects that I don't really want to do is so hard. And I find the small chuck of time a day sounds good in theory but in reality I get burned out and lose steam very quickly. I tend to have maybe two or three days attention for a project max and then I'm on to the next thing. (Side note: It's absolutely amazing to me that I ever finished a quilt. Quilting is like the magic exception to my short attention span. I don't know why that it so, but somehow I can focus on a quilting project over a long period of time and not get bored. Maybe because it's really like a string of little projects, each phase being a new challenge. Maybe because I'm in love with the pretty result.)
But one really big piece of the puzzle to me is that actually getting stuff out of the house part even when I've decided it needs to go. There is no Goodwill drop off or thrift store or whatever to just dump the stuff at. (Nearest Goodwill is about 45 minutes away and not in a direction I ever go.) The only things I can get rid of are clothes because St Vincent de Paul has a collection center in the church parking lot and I can do it when I go to Mass. And so I will pack up a bag full of old toys and then wonder what the heck to do with it. I've got one bag of dolls and stuffed animals sitting in my cedar chest now. It's been there for more than a year. The kids have forgotten about the toys and we definitely don't need them but I don't know what the heck to do with the darned things.
Sometimes I can get rid of stuff via Freecycle, but it's got to be such a hassle with people who say they will come get stuff and then never show up, playing email tag or phone tag. I don't have time or energy to deal with it. And it kills me to throw stuff that might be useful to somebody, anybody in the trash. I just can't do it and when Dom does it it drives me nuts.
Seriously, Charlotte, if you or Katherine or Dwija one of my other organized friends who is good at this kind of detail stuff lived nearby I would pay you to come over and help me purge. I think I could do it with support and time.
And that brings up another thought.... I am curious now if people who are good at purging tend to be detail-oriented and people who aren't tend to be big-picture people. I'd love to see a whether there is a correlation.
Six days late! I usually read your blog daily, but we've been trying to finish some projects before we start school in Sept. I'm a purger. I don't like clutter and I think it's because I'm a visual person. I can't function properly if there's a lot of stuff around, so I have to put items in their proper place and if there's too much stuff, things won't fit. Purge! I don't mind dust and dirty windows and gross kitchen floors; it's clutter I can't stand. I've talked about the inability to purge with a friend of mine. I don't really like going to her house because there is stuff everywhere. It's not relaxing. She said she has problems focusing and staying focused while she's de-cluttering and she can't prioritize. She's an intelligent woman, especially in math; she thinks she's ADD. For instance if she starts to clean her large kitchen (there's usually never any empty counter space, I mean none at all), she might pick up a couple of cups with days-old coffee in it and she goes to put it in the dishwasher, but then she realizes the last load wasn't put away, so she starts in on that. Then she remembers that she wanted to make bread today, so she starts in on that, but finds she doesn't have yeast, so she goes to the grocery store...., it's downhill from there and the kitchen never gets de-cluttered. She's often making dinner at 8pm and sometimes her kids show up for afternoon events not having eaten since breakfast because of her unorganized life. She hates it, but she doesn't know how to change. To me, it just seems obvious what she needs to do, but she can't see it. It took her years to finish college, because she kept leaving to do something else, returning for a year, taking off... She has a lot of projects half-finished. Maybe it is a short-attention span problem. My husband will admit that he gets easily bored organizing and de-cluttering his office. It's not something he finds pleasant, so he doesn't stick with it. He welcomes distraction and an excuse to move on to "something more important." I do it twice a year for him and he's sincerely amazed at the results. He says, "I don't know how you do it!" I find de-cluttering and organizing very satisfying. I ENJOY doing it. The return greatly outweighs the effort it requires for me. I look at my math-loving friend and don't get it. She enjoys math. To me that is just so weird. I can see it as a tool, but to actually do math "for fun." Shudder. Maybe she feels the same way about de-cluttering.ReplyDelete
I tried for years to purge but I found that all I did was to move 'stuff' from one closet or storage room to another. I felt like 'stuff' ruled my life. It was very frustrating and discouraging. After our older children left home, we moved to a smaller house. At that point I was forced to purge what was not important. It was very freeing. Also, when my older children left home I asked them to go through their stuff and only leave what they really wanted someday when they were out of college and settled. Well of couse, that didn't happen. When we moved to the smaller house, I delivered all of their stuff to them. That way if it was that important to them they could store it! :)ReplyDelete