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I have a confession to make… I am a bit of a hoarder. I’m not so bad that they’ll find me buried in my stuff one day. And no, my cat won’t disappear, only to be found dead three years later. But I do have a minor problem, in that I HATE to throw things away. You could call me a pack rat, but I prefer to think of myself as an environmental steward. If I can figure out a way to reuse, recycle or regift an item, I will do it. I have been known to do the following:
- Reuse gift bags (Christmas and otherwise) for years in a row… My oldest son is three and I still have blue gift bags just waiting for the next expectant friend to announce she’s having a boy.
- Hoard coloring sheets we’ve received at restaurants, birthday parties and elsewhere, in anticipation of the next rainy day my son decides he wants to get artistic.
- Reuse envelopes (you know, the ones with the little see-through windows) included with statements when I decide to pay online and not use them for their intended purpose.
- Participate in online recycling programs (specifically TerraCycle) which require me to collect multiple items of one type until I have enough to send in a shipment of a certain size.
I’ve had some very frugal relatives, including my mom and my grandmother, and they have instilled in me this need to not be wasteful. Despite my love for Amazon, I cringe every time a new cardboard box appears and then try to figure out if it is a good size to save for some other use. I despise the use of paper plates and usually reserve getting them out for birthday parties and cookouts.
But let me tell you, this hoarding tendency can lead to other personal bouts of madness, especially when faced with the ever-growing piles of clutter that appear in my house. Inevitably, I come to a point where I grow frustrated at not being able to find something important – why yes, that bill is overdue – and start indiscriminately throwing things away. Ironic, I know.
So begins another New Year full of plans to declutter, and believe me, this is no small task. With two small children, the toy clutter alone can drive me crazy (I have, by the way, started donating some old toys to our sons’ daycare). And now my husband has suggested I participate in our town’s local children’s consignment event this Spring. That means a room will be designated just for collecting and pricing all the stuff we are going to sell there. But at least it will be out the door!
What’s a mom drowning in clutter, but unable to find a way to dig out to do? Well, I will not go down without a fight. I am going to continue to purge my stuff, while also trying to preserve precious memories and keepsakes for my kids – anyone out there with a mile-high pile of art from school? I hear there’s an app for that… For now, I am reading New Order: A Decluttering Handbook for Creative Folks (and Everyone Else)* to motivate me to purge. Even just having the book somehow gives me a new level of motivation. I’ll be sure to check back in and let you know if it provides any life-changing suggestions. In the meantime, I’ll consider my day a success if I can still find my keys – and my kids – when it’s time to head out the door.
*Note: New Order says it tackles ways to declutter your digital life, too, something I’m onboard for, as well. While I have gotten my inbox to zero in the past, it has once again become inundated, and it’s time for a reboot.
How do you handle the clutter in your life? Tell me about it in the comments below. I’m obviously a work in progress and welcome any suggestions!