We have been hard at work the past six months or so clearing out unused/outgrown items from our apartment! It has been a lot of work, and we still have a ways to go, but the results have been great so far!
I suffer from anxiety and, for me, clutter is a huge trigger. There is nothing worse than feeling claustrophobic in your own residence! Since having kids the amount of stuff that we have has grown exponentially. The clothes, the toys, the gear etc. So much stuff!
Since last fall I have been putting in some extra effort to de-clutter unused/outgrown items. Each and every diaper/wipe box that enters our home leaves full of donation items or items to store at my mom's house for a multi-family garage sale in the spring. You'd be surprised how quickly a diaper box can fill up!
Late last November I decided to join a Facebook garage sale group to make a little money off of items that would otherwise be donated. To date, we have made $321 selling clothing, toys and household items! It takes a little effort and time but so far it's been worth it!
I struggled with whether or not to involve the kids, specifically Amelia, in our de-cluttering. In the end I decided it was best to include her and we began slowly. I asked her if there were any toys in her room that she didn't play with anymore. She found a couple and I asked her if we could pass them on to someone else. She declined and I let it be. Over time she saw me filling up diaper boxes and eventually came to me one day and said, "Mom, I have some toys I don't use anymore that I want to pass on. Can you help me?" Success.
Why are we doing all this? To create a "manageable mess" as Rachel put it!
In the not so distant past there were times when our kids made messes that were so insane and overwhelming that we would be left wondering where they even found all that stuff to take out. We'd get frustrated at them and it created such a negative environment for us all. Something had to change!
How are we doing this? I'm trying my best to follow the "one in, one out" rule, especially with toys! I am also trying very hard to be intentional in my purchases. I work at Target and it is easy to get caught up in the "deals" that we run into as we re-do aisle after aisle of the store. That's my job, clearing out the old to make way for the new. I see a lot of "deals" every day! I'm learning to just say NO!
As far as deciding what stays and what goes - I just try to look at an item objectively. Is it being used? Is it something we love? Will we use it in the future? If the answers are "no" then it's time to pass that item on to someone who can get use out of it. It's not doing anyone any good sitting in our closet! I'm not against saving things but everything does not need to be saved!
Now for a visual, this mess...
...is a manageable mess! Yes, everything is out but it all goes in either the purple bin or the closet! By simplifying their toys we were also able to simplify the play-with-every-day toys' storage which makes picking up much easier for them! They are learning that there is a place for everything and when we pick up everything goes in it's place!
Bottom line: Less stuff = less mess = less stress!