Tag Archives: clutter

Prisoner of Clutter?

Toys? Root of Modern Clutter?

In the past few days the article “Today’s families are prisoners of clutter” from the Boston Globe has been trending all over my Facebook feed.  I’m not sure why this article got kicked back to life, since it is almost 5 years old, but it interested me nonetheless.

I was intrigued by the portrayal of 21st century kids as over-saturated with toys.  Growing up, one of my sets of Grandparents rarely gave Christmas or birthday gifts.  It was more of a special event when they did.  They raised 6 kids, who had kids, and there were just too many Grandchildren to undertake gifts for every event.  In contrast, my mom only has one Grandchild.  My daughter also receives gifts from aunts and uncles.

That can make for a lot of toys.

I can imagine this situation reaches a crisis if you have a few kids, and the stream of toys keeps coming throughout the year.

The article states that one problem with the avalanche of toys is adults’ unwillingness to part with the toys and their desire to save the toys for future grandchildren.  A result is Rubbermaid tubs in the garage and nowhere for cars.

What is the toy situation at your house?

I have been lucky to have other relatives in the family to hand things down to.  One child gets all of my daughter’s clothes, and the choicest toys and books.  I don’t want to overwhelm them with toys either!  Other items I sold at rummages (like the Melissa and Doug mentioned in the article) or gave to Goodwill.  Items we still have include Legos, dollhouse, Calico Critters, American Girl dolls, Barbies, dinosaurs, and wooden blocks.  Those items put together are probably more toys than I had in my whole childhood, and that doesn’t even account for the items we don’t have anymore.

It’s hard for me to refute the assertion in the article that today’s kids have too many toys.

Playing the Scenario Out

Will today’s children become parents with tubs and tubs of toys to hand down, passing along the clutter crisis?  I have found that every few years there are a lot of toys we can pass along in one way or another.  Kids make great leaps in terms of interests and maturity and suddenly you both know that an item has served its purpose.  The problem comes in when we — the parents — don’t want to let the toys go.  It’s not Great Depression mentality.  Maybe it’s closer to a wish to have another crack at reliving the joy of childhood.  Certainly some items are “keepers” but saving enormous amounts of toys for hypothetical kids to come decades away means the toys aren’t able to give someone else joy.  Saving things also make a lot of assumptions about what a future child would be interested in — My Little Pony?  Beanie Boos? Anna and Elsa?

I can’t say this article doesn’t hit a nerve.  Though we have come to the very end of the toy buying years, the article will stay with me as we go through bins of toys.  Today we have some Dora Legos, Princess items, games, and craft kits headed for new homes.  It’s a start.

What are your thoughts on the article?  I’m interested in the opinions of those with and without kids.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Saving and Homemaking 6/18

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Take care of your garden Leprechaun

It’s Sunday evening where I am.  We have the windows wide open to catch the cool breeze and I am getting the great scent of mock orange blossoms which I picked from the neighbor’s shrub.  I’ll try to get a picture of them for you for my next post.  It has the most blissful scent that just makes me glad to be alive.  The neighborhood kids are outside and I am grateful my daughter is old enough that I don’t have to worry about what shenanigans are going on out there.

Last week I wrapped up my last day of work so now I can get down to the business of being an at-home mom for a few months.

Cooking

You know what I made this week?

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Frosting.  Epic quantities.  DD took a cake decorating class and we went through 2 cans of Crisco and 4 lbs of powdered sugar.  When we weren’t making frosting, we were washing frosting out of clothes, decorating tips, you name it.  You should see the shine in my mixing bowl!

DD took over a night of cooking this week and made egg salad.  She has that meal down pat.  I asked her this summer to make (with any help she needs) and plan a meal every week when she doesn’t have camp.

Saving

Our biggest savings this week came from Mr. Saver researching our cable TV situation and, unable to negotiate a lower price with U-verse, we switched to SlingTV/Hulu at a reduction of about $ 45.00/month.  We are pleased with the channels available to us given the savings.  I appreciate the time he put in on this.  That’s some real money.

Cleaning

Lots of activity in this department.  I tackled a few problem areas, such as the area around our printer, which accumulates paper, school work and catalogs.  I parted with some school art work from years ago and found other gems worth keeping in a more permanent set-up.

This week I want to address some problems such as lack of space for seasonal items like blankets and duvets.  When you live in a vintage house, there is no walk-in anything.  To do this, I am going to need to get into closets and get some items headed to Goodwill.  I am thankful for the time in summer to do this.

Reading

You know I always have a few books in play.  This week I am finishing Kate Singh’s book on homemaking, and am also reading the 1943 Newbery-award winning book “Adam of the Road” set in 13th C England.  I’m highlighting all over the pages because the writing is so beautiful, especially to a lover of England.

The rafters and the walls were dark with smoke, but otherwise everything was neat and clean.  Dame Malkin’s bed in the corner was spread with a blue coverlet, her table was scrubbed white, and her oak cupboard against the wall had been rubbed with beeswax till it gleamed.

If you love England, this is a must read book about the life of a minstrel and his son roaming the English Countryside.

Thinking

On my mind these days are thoughts about the Sabbath, and lack of rest in modern life.  Also thinking about clutter and how it can keep us apart from God.  More on these topics to come.

I hope your Father’s Day was lovely!  Talk to you again soon.

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1895 architecture that caught my eye.

Root of All Evil . . .

This week those who follow Flylady are in “Zone 2” which is the kitchen,  so I do a little extra in this room to detail clean and remove clutter.   As I move through the zones in the coming weeks I am thinking about our rummage sale in June.  It gives me motivation to “let it go”!

Yesterday I tackled one really big problem area. . .  a cabinet where I don’t even like to put things away that are clean for fear of AVALANCHE.

This is definitely a run before something slides out situation!

This is definitely a ‘run before something slides out’ situation!

Just try to put clean baking pans in there!

I took everything out, washed items that needed a clean-up, and I found the main problem with this cabinet is what is known as the root of all evil…  Not money, but plastic containers with no lids!

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Troublemakers!

I cleared out wayward plastic containers, put a few things in my Goodwill/Rummage sale box, wiped down the cabinet, and about 15 minutes later… good to go.

IMG_7091I have two things in there that probably should go… a broiler pan, which I have never used because it sounds like it would make a huge mess in the oven, and a pizza stone.  The pizza stone was given to me by someone who didn’t want theirs, which is always a clue that you may be taking on something you won’t use.  I’ll think about those two items between now and the next time we come back to Zone 2.

 

Reality Comes Calling

I’ve been off work for the past week.  Glorious time!  A mini family vacation, lots of play-time for DD, and cleaning up the house with a drop off at Goodwill to boot!  Satisfying.  I know I am headed into a super busy April but the promise of summer break is on the horizon.

Having just that sliver of free time has given me space to do some goal setting instead of just surviving.  On my mind today:

  • Switching out of vacation mode and into “making dinner” mode.  A busy week ahead means a meal plan must be dealt with.  Not my favorite chore, but not planning is 10X worse.
  • Continuing to edit our “stuff”… being on vacation always makes me appreciate how little you need to be happy.  Pat on the back for setting a rummage sale date this summer with my  mom.
  • Flylady’s habit for April is making the bed.  Talked to DD about adopting this routine along with me.  We are pretty good about making the bed, but hopefully the diligence in this area will spill over into picking up clothes off the chair!
  • We reconcile the weekly expenses every Saturday evening.  Now is a good time to make sure we have accounted for summer expenses, especially kid expenses, and fund any categories that still need money.
Vacation living - the food comes to you!

Vacation living – the food comes to you!

What’s on your mind at the start of April?

Clearing Out

We started the summer off with an impressive burst of motivation to have a rummage sale.  DD was a huge help and went through every box of toys and kid books, and clothes too!  We hit the stage where it’s pretty clear what toys are with us for the duration and which could be better served with a new friend.

noexif_IMG_5920_privateThings we found helpful in making the rummage a success were:

  • Having pre-printed Avery price tags.  They were inexpensive and what kid doesn’t love to put stickers on things!
  • We lacked a hanging clothes rack, but we found people were willing to go through bins on a table that were labeled by size.
  • We also found it worthwhile to bag like items together in a Ziploc and sell them as a bundle.  Within the first 20 minutes all of our Melissa and Doug wooden toy food was gone.

Our 4 hour sale netted us about 100.00.  From that $100 I paid our daughter a flat rate for labor and a 10% commission on sales.

It feels great to have things like her old bike out of the garage.  The longer it sits around the more likely it is to become broken or rusty.  I’d rather price it reasonably and have someone using it.

We used the cash from the rummage to buy some portable folding chairs that we need for an event later this summer.  It felt great to meet a future expense with items taking up room in our basement.

I did break a cardinal rule of having a garage sale… I brought three boxes of stuff back inside the house.  I labeled the bins and hope to have a rummage with the rest of it at my mom’s house that has great street traffic.  I put the bins in my laundry room so I won’t forget my plan!

Goodbye to What You Thought I Could Use…

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Hi friends…

I’ve been hard at work the past weeks using the bits of time before I go to work to declutter small areas.  One thing that has been bothering me about clutter is that is steals my mental energy.  Clutter, in my life, is items that a decision should be made about but that I have not taken action on.  Clutter might be a t-shirt that fits funny or shrunk, but I barely wore it!  Or maybe if I keep it another year it will fit my daughter…  Meanwhile, every time I get dressed it is there saying “You bought me are you EVER going to wear me?”

Gifts are also an area that can become clutter.  If the gift is something I haven’t really enjoyed, it just waits there for me to enjoy it to the level the giver intended.  One recent influence on me is the book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo.  In the book she encourages us by saying the power of a gift is in the action of giving, not the item itself.  “Presents are not things but a means for conveying someone’s feelings,” she writes.  No one  would want the gift they gave you to make you feel guilty or unhappy for decades!

One item that I came across is the massive COMPLETE book of Shakespeare’s works, given to me by a friend who went to teach in Japan 25 YEARS AGO!  It has been sitting in my laundry room for years.  I often thought it might be “worth something” until I looked on abebooks.com and alibris.com and found them selling for $6.00 – 12.00!  I am grateful my friend thought I was the kind of scholar that would crack open a 2,300 page book, but I decided to donate it to my local library’s “Friends of the Library” book sale.  The library gives me so much joy in my life and I hope they can use the money from the sale of the book to make the library a joyful part of someone else’s life.

For more on Marie Kendo see this article.