Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Homemaking Tip – A Tip, Sort of

Some Wednesdays I feel very presumptuous to think I have a tip worth your time to read; but then I remember the good tips I’ve gotten over the internet through the years and I feel obliged to reciprocate – just in case.  It’s a conundrum to be sure.

For instance, one tip I read in a book years ago warned that storing “stuff” was a luxury few could afford, what with it costing approximately $80-$125 per square foot to build a new home and about $100 per square foot to add on to a home.  The author suggested we consider three things when deciding whether or not to keep an item:

1.  Would I crawl through a spider infested hole to retrieve this item? 
2.  Would I move the item to another location?

3.   Do I love this item?  Do I have another one of this item that is better?  Have I used this item in the past year?  Does this item have sentimental value to me?  Is there someone I love who would love this item more than I do?  Does this item make my life better?  Can I picture a time or place when I might need this item?  Would I even remember I had this item or know where to find this item if I ever needed it? 

If your answers are “no” to the above questions, it’s a dead-giveaway.  Literally.  The item goes out the door.  Deciding what to toss may be painful at first, but you will find yourself feeling better and better as you rid yourself of unnecessary clutter.


A couple of days ago Calvin and I had this conversation and I thought of those very useful sorting tips:

Calvin said, “Do you ever get overwhelmed?”

I laughed, and because I wasn’t facing him, I asked, “Are you teasing?”

He said, “No, I’m serious.”

I said, “You’re the first person to know I get overwhelmed.  You watch me dig deeper and warn me when it’s time to stop.”

He said, “I’m overwhelmed.”  He paused for a bit and continued, “My shop overwhelms me.”

Truth be told, his shop overwhelms me.  A creative genius doesn’t necessarily come with the tidy gene.  There have been several projects come out of that shop that have left their trace.

Calvin said, “I still have boxes from Idaho I haven’t unpacked.”

I asked, “What’s in them?  Do you even remember?”


I helpfully suggested, “Then don’t open them.  Don’t look.  Just get rid of them.  Thirteen years of not needing it means it’s not a necessity and it can’t be that important.” 

But then we both remembered one important thing that is down in the bottom of one of those boxes.  Abe’s leather chaps.  Calvin bought them for him when Abe was only three or four years old.  In order to find those little chaps one of us has to go through the boxes.  The logical choice would be me, but I don’t want to be the logical choice because of thirteen years of spiders and mice nests.  But to send Calvin looking through those boxes is completely illogical because he might close them up again and save them for later.

Restoring logic, I suggested, “How about we rent a big dumpster.  Remember when we rented that one before we moved to Washington to help you sort through the stuff in your shop?” 

A big dumpster is great incentive and helps you from feeling overwhelmed because it’s just waiting to be filled with your stuff. 

I continued, “I’ll help you find the chaps and then we’ll dump the rest.  And while we’re at it, we’re dumping stuff from the lean to.  It does not make sense the lawnmower sits in the weather while old buckets and broken shovels are protected from the snow.” 

I can hardly wait for that dumpster to get here.  I inherited the tidy gene, not the incredible-with-your-hands gene and I need that shop back in working order, because I’d really, really, really like Calvin to attempt making a grandfather clock.


Jill said...

We cleaned out our garage a couple weeks ago so that we'll be able to get to our Christmas decorations (yikes it was that bad) and it felt so liberating to get rid of so much stuff. I'm just amazed that we continually have so much to get rid of, but every time I clean the garage I find more and I've never once regretted it.

Nicole said...

I love getting rid of stuff. I always have a bag ready to be donated. I am dying to clean out my dad's shop.

michelle said...

I bet you thought this day would never come!

I am not good at getting rid of stuff, and I do get overwhelmed, so I think I need to use your list of questions to help me!!

Michelle said...

Am I getting the impression that Ty might be owing Calvin a milkshake when he sees the shop at Christmas? Also, it seems that I would have a desolate home if I took all of those questions to heart. I can't think of a single thing I'd crawl through a spider-infested hole to retrieve. Except maybe some people. But if that were the case, I'd toss them a rope.

Nikki said...

I hope you'll post pictures! I LOVE before and after pictures when decluttering and organization are involved.

I get overwhelmed ALL THE TIME. I'm trying really hard to handle it all though.

And I remember this list of yours. I don't recall if it was from a newsletter or your other site. But I have reminded myself of it-- especially the dollar value of a square foot part-- on numerous occasions. :)

Deidra said...

I only have one closet full of random stuff. But that closet seems to have morphed into the whole spare room in the last month. Most of the rubbermaid totes are decorations, but I've been paring down on how I decorate for the holidays. I've even donated stuff to the thrift store my mom made me, but it still adds up!

My dad's shop sounds so much like Calvin's-- only worse. We've told him he can't ever die because going through that thing makes all of us shudder. Seriously. Somehow, he knows where most of it is, and when he needs just the right part, tool, or piece of metal, well, he's got it. But yikes!

Derek-Jenny-Kaitlynd-Ethan-Dylan said...

Good luck! Big Dumpster = Big Fun!!!


Marie said...

I am not a fan of stuff. My mother-in-law figured that out several years ago (another reason I love her) and she has stopped giving me 'stuff' on my birthday and Christmas. Rather, she'll give me tickets to a play, or a movie, or a pass to the swimming pool. Something I'll use, and never need to find a spot for. Love it.

Your rules for choosing what goes and what stays are good, but I have to add that there is almost nothing I would go through a spider-infested hole to get to. Seriously.

Deidra said...

I don't think I'd own anything if I followed those rules! I too don't like clutter. I definitely am opposite of my parents...

Cali said...

Funny story about that dumpster we rented in Idaho. I threw a cd of Abe's in there because I thought it had a bad song on it. I remember what song it was too. It wasn't bad. I threw it in there because I knew it would be almost impossible to find/get-out. I though, "you'll thank me later Abe." don't tell him.

Rachel said...

I could use your dumpster... I have a couple of kids who are overwhelming me right now.

Samantha said...

I love decluttering. But I'm also nostolgic and sentimental, so it's been a little hard for me to figure out. I think the thing that helped me the most was right before I got married, I was trying to pack and my sister Cali was with me and she helped me realize which sentimental things were worth keeping and which ones I needed to toss. I'd say having someone with you who isn't sentimentally attached to your things but knows you is a great help.

Peggy Dee said...

Great tips, Jane! I heard a talk years ago about keeping/getting rid of things and it changed my life. I was guilty of letting clothes hang in my closet that I didn't really like but had only worn once or twice and felt wasteful getting rid of. This women explained that letting it hang in your closet was not going to get you your money back. Find a good home for the item and get rid of the guilt. It not only takes up space in your closet but in your brain as well. How many of us are hanging on to that sweater that itches or that shirt that fits kinda funny because we want to get our money's worth out of it but can't get ourselves to wear it again? When in doubt, throw it out! Thanks for inspiring me Jane!! You always do.