When our closet collapsed a few weeks ago, I was faced with the daunting challenge of organizing hang-up clothes, with no place to hang them. My solution was to hang up the items that A) needed to be hung up and B) were in season. Sweaters, long sleeve shirts, and super-dressy clothes we never wear were all piled, still on the hangers, in the back of our bedroom. MrZ usually prefers his t-shirts hung up because he doesn’t like them to have wrinkles. Now, the kinda nice/cool t-shirts he wears when we go out to places beyond our driveway and other than the gym? I understand now wanting those shirts with creases. But the t-shirts with the holes and grass stains? The one’s he wears to workout in, or while he mows the grass? Can’t those be folded? Is it really important that your shirt be wrinkle-free when you’re doing your bicep curls? Or pulling weeds?
Needless to say, all of his t-shirts ended up getting folded. And stacked on a box of books we still haven’t unpacked since we moved in.
So now, in the back of our bedroom, we have 10+ boxes of books that we were keeping packed until we could buy some bookshelves. And in front of those boxes? We have random piles of clothes. It kinda makes me crazy every time I look at it. I’ve been thinking about getting a curtain rod and hanging a curtain to block that clutter. Out of sight, out of mind, right?
There are times when I honestly wonder if it would be a bad thing just to take all of that crap and donate it to charity. We have so many clothes we keep “just in case.” Just in case we need to get dressed up (Why does MrZ need 15 ties? Why do I need 15 dresses?). Just in case we need to dress retro (Why do I still have all of my hippie clothes?). Just in case we lose that last 15lbs. Just in case we get married again. Or something like that. Would our lives really be that bad off if I didn’t have that shiny black skirt? Or if MrZ only had, like three ties?
And all of the books. I’ve always enjoyed buying hardback copies of books from my favorite authors. Between that and MrZ’s need to keep every textbook from college, we have a shitload of books. What, exactly, are we going to do with them? Read them again? Look at them and tell people, “I read those.” I mean, they’re Dean Koontz and Patricia Cornwell – not Hawthorne and Faulkner. It’s not like we’re displaying our literary prowess owning hardback copies of all of the James Patterson/Alex Cross series. We’re just showing of my crappy popular fiction addiction. Why must we do that?
I think it would be cathartic to just purge one day. Just say, “Here. Take this. Enjoy it. Burn it. Whatever.” And start over. I don’t think I could break the sentimental ties with the stupid crap to do it, but I kinda wish I could. Instead, I’ll just continue to slowly throw away MrZ’s crap when he’s not looking. It gives me the same sense of cleansing without having to part with my stuff.
But don’t tell him I said that.
Update from 2020: Hee…this was foreshadowing to the great downsize of 2015-2017
18 thoughts on “Clutter”
I am such a pack rat. I keep EVERYTHING. Everything I own holds some sort of sentimental attachment.
Every once in awhile I get really fed up with all of my crap and decide that I’m going to go through it and get rid of stuff.
This ends up being me sitting amongst piles of crap on my bedroom floor, reminiscing and getting misty eyed. Usually over something like a sock, or an old journal. (An old journal with only 3 or 4 pages written on, because after that the pages get all crinkly.) Do I get rid of a damn thing? Nope!
My solution? When I get really really fed up, I just look at boxes that I haven’t opened or touched in years, and I just get rid of them. I drive them to the Salvation Army without allowing myself to look inside. As soon as I see my stuff, I just can’t part with it!
I am slowly decluttering my house about a garbage bag of stuff a week and the freedom we feel from it is indescribable. I quit buying books and checked them out from the library. No clutter. I have not regretted getting rid of my 200+ books one time. Ownership of books takes lots of space and they rip a hunk out of your heart to get rid of them-BUT once you get them gone smiles again! We have gotten rid of literally a ton of stuff since Jan. ( It is kind of fun to weigh the bags as we hauled them off!! ) Take your nicest clothes to consignment and give the rest to charity. If you have not worn it in a year-you won’t.
Most people hate to cook because they think it is so hard. It isn’t. Here is my tip for you. Buy some frozen shrimp in a bag that is not cooked. The 51-60 bag will be fine- it feeds my family of five(not as much shrimp as they all want but they are shrimp HOGS so the line is drawn). ($4.99-7.99) Buy a head of garlic(keeps forever!!) (50 cents.) Go to the frozen food section and buy the frozen stir fry veggies of your choice (I buy at kroger -16 oz for less than $2).
Thaw the shrimp completely(soak in cold water about 15 minutes and they will be thawed enough) and peel. Thaw the veggies as well-same way. Peel and slice garlic(2-3 cloves) into a large skillet and then cover the bottom with olive oil. Saute the shrimp(med heat is great) until they turn from gray to pink. They are done-no seasoning is necessary the garlic olive oil is enough. Put them aside in a bowl and cook your veggies the same way but add salt and pepper to taste. When veggies are as crisp or soft as your family likes, add the shrimp and toss all together. Serve over brown rice. Serve with a big salad if you have big eaters. Yummy, healthy and soo soo simple. Figure it would cost you $10 a head at a restaurant and smile at all the money you saved. Now that you know how easy shrimp is to cook, you can work in at least once a week.
Kudos to you for having supper with your family and spending that time together even if you did not slave over the prep. Dining together is the best way to bond a family!! And camping!!
And I will say no more.
Yep. Flylady.net. I was totally going to say that. Ang is right. Check her out and she’ll help you declutter 15 minutes at a time. Everyone has 15 minutes right?
Your secret is safe with us!
Please come to my house and help me get rid of things…seriously.
END OF YEAR YARD SALE!!!
Then you will have the money you need to fix your closet and unload your clutter. I am a queen pack rat. I kept all of my (now age 5) daughter’s baby clothes. I finally sold them in a yard sale. I helped out another family in the process. What doesn’t sell, you donate. I know it sounds hard, and it is. I cried when I let my maternity bathing suit go. I also cried while pricing my daughter’s old toys. I also cried when the next little girl ran up to the box o’ toys and clutched onto a special toy looking at her mother pleadingly to spend the 50 cents on it. It’s also worth it. I felt so clean afterwards and I could walk into my closets and feel good about what I did.
You could always do what I’m doing…move to a foreign country. When you realize how much you’re going to have to pay someone to ship all your junk overseas, you get rid of a lot of stuff.
And if I cried when I sold my dining room table, I’m certainly not going to admit that on the internet.
You know, Zoot, sometimes when I read your blog I think I must write it in my sleep. My husband is a packrat (old college textbooks? check! clothes we’ll never fit in again? check!) and I’m a poor organizer so we’re a dangerous pair. 🙂
My rule is that if it has sat in a pile for *that* long and we haven’t missed it, it’s going out on the curb for the charity truck to pick up.
If I can suggest a book: Hannah’s Art of Home by Hannah Keeley. She gets a little annoying in a the-perfect-stay-at-home-mommy-you’ll-never-be kind of way but she has good ideas on conquering the clutter.
Ew, I just used alliteration to make a point. I hate that. 🙂
I am SO glad to hear I’m not the only one secretly throwing away my husband’s crap. God forbid he ever throw away a texbook… EVER.
Btw, I read this outloud to my husband and now he feels the need to comment too.. THIS should be good.
My wife does this to me. See comment #10. I once came home to find two ENTIRE TRASHBAGS full of beloved copies of such titles as “Economic Problems of the Cities” and “Practical Investment Management.” She convinced me to either take the books to my office or replace the books in the trash bag with other books from my collection. I substituted “See, I Told You So” and rescued “Why Perestroika Failed.” That Rush Limbaugh thing was a phase I’m way over now anyway.
I don’t keep anything, except my kids’ stuff. I go through my closet every 6 months. If I haven’t touched a piece of clothing in 6 months, most likely I won’t touch it ever. Hi Salavation army. On the other hand, my husband doesn’t throw away anything. Why keep a tshirt when it has 10 holes in the front? As much as I pack stuff away, there are still lots of stuff in the garage. I really wish I can just throw everything away and only keep what’s necessary. I can not stand clutters.
I’m in the process of moving to Hawaii, and have downsized my belongings to practically nothing. Bare essentials. I still have things that hold sentimental value, for sure, but have whittled away so, so much. It’s absolutely cathartic. My goal in Hawaii is to accumulate practically nothing so that if and when I move back to Denver next year, I can do so easy breezy. Well, as “easy” and “breezy” as moving across an ocean can be.
But yes, there is something to be said for the intoxication that accompanies living light.
I significantly reduced the number of books I had in my house by selling them to a used book store. They usually give you more money if you take store credit instead of cash, therefore I would end up with more books, just fewer of them. So I got rid of books I knew I wouldn’t read again and got new ones, a win in my book!
They won’t take textbooks, which I use to cling to, until I realized that most were out of date and I didn’t use them and should just be chucked.
When I get the urge to de-clutter my husband and I go through our closet and get rid of anything we never wear and/or no loner fits. (Okay, maybe we keep one or two favorites for sentimental value.) My philosophy with the “just in case i lose the last 15 pounds” clothes is this: If I lose the last 15 pounds, I will have DEFINITELY earned myself a skinny-clothes shopping spree!
I made my husband stop hanging every single piece of clothing he owned. Seriously. Muscle tees don’t need to be hung. Shirts he wore in high school had to go. Now we have much more space, more available hangers and a good conscience knowing that we have made some muscle shirt free man the proud owner of a self made Nike muscle tee via our donation to the thrift shop.
See, I agree with whole getting rid of the clothes but books? No way. I still have books from when I was 11 and I just cannot get rid of them. I use the excuse that I’m keeping them for my children. You can never have enough books. My boyfriend will tell you otherwise but his opinion on that matter doesn’t really count.