I got up this morning and I saw a bag that I made over the weekend ready to leave for donations. I glared at it and walked by it, planning to ignore it. I went to the bathroom, and, there stood three big bins full to the brim with more clothes that no longer fit the kids. I just need to get rid of this stuff. I had tried many times, took the time to take pictures and post each item to a local Facebook page. Had a few random pieces leave, which I had to rummage through the bins to find, and then the page was deleted and I never put them back up. As much as I wanted to have it all gone, each time I put pictures up or saw them, or touched them if I rummaged through the bin, each time… I felt a bit of panic.
I would imagine how that piece of clothing looked on one of my kids, I could imagine cuddling them while they were wearing those clothes. I could reminisce about how small they use to be and be in awe at how time goes by so quickly and how big they have become.
But this morning something clicked. I sat down at the computer and instead of posting pictures I just posted a simple message on another local Facebook page. “Clothes Lot for girl born in Jan. newborn to 2-3 years. Message me if interested.” I got a message back within about 2 minutes. She asked a price, I gave her one and she accepted. That was it. But she didn’t have a car to come get it. She lives in the old part of the city where most people have very low incomes, which is not far so I had no problem with running it over and it also made me feel a bit better that the clothes were going to someone who needed them.
I transferred the clothes from the bins to the bags, trying to not look much at the clothes but of course I saw my favourites and 3 items did make their way out, but then I took a big breathe, said “no more” and I closed the bags up and set them aside. I looked around for more things and made another bag and then was left with a big bin of miscellaneous boys clothes. So, I decided to donate it all. I asked her if she had any other kids. She said no, but asked why and I told her about the extra bag. She said she had a friend with a young boy so if I was going to donate it I could always leave it with her first. No problem. So there at the bottom of the stairs were 6 full garbage bags worth of clothing ready to leave.
Once Simon got home he put everything in the car along with a little baby chair that I had offered her also.
My heart tightened; It was all in the car and out of the house. I wanted to go and rescue it.
He went to start the car for me and the car wouldn’t start. It was the third time in as many weeks, and though yes we are in a cold snap, today was not that bad of a day so it confirmed what I already knew, that my battery was dying. I called Roadside Assistance and was put on the call back cue with at least an hour of wait (last week I waited 9 hours in cue!) I called the garage and asked if I could stop by for a new battery tonight if I was boosted in time and asked if he had a battery in stock. He said yes, but not too late. Simon asked why I didn’t just wait for tomorrow but I knew that I needed it all out and gone tonight, my emotions were running high. I got the call back and bit more than an hour later and within 20 min the tow truck was there. I left right away and headed straight to the garage. Almost too late. Of course it was not a straight forward job because the battery that he had didn’t exactly fit right but after a small welcomed modification it was done and I was on my way. One step closer. As I unloaded the bags I started feeling lighter and I started feeling a bit sick.
Though I would not exactly see call myself a hoarder, I can recognize that I have many of the traits and I do have a hard time letting go of certain things. I have talked about it before, but years ago I did have a thrift store/garage sale shopping habit that I broke cold turkey one day. I was tired of the clutter that was overrunning our lives and our home. Especially in certain rooms. I never looked back and we are still working on getting stuff out and we are slowly starting to get the upper hand. But there are still those feelings that come with letting go of certain items. Not with all, not even close anymore and not as much as it used to be, but definitely with some. And tonight I definitely felt it.
So I drove away and dropped one last bag off of unrelated items at the donation centre and then made my way back home. It was liberating… but it also made me anxious.
I feel lighter, the house feels lighter and thinking about it I still feel slightly sick, but I also feel that I have just made a big step. I have a few more to make, but with each one, we get closer to getting down to a manageable amount of stuff and having only stuff that we need and love and use. Each step gets us closer to a more realistic amount of stuff that will be able to accompany us in our dream of being on the road. Each step can be really hard to make but you just have to take the step and let things follow through because then you have to get ready to make that next one.
I little while after I got home, I got a message saying that she was going through the clothes and she was so happy. That they were much more then she expected and that there were so many beautiful items.
That felt good.
So, how do you deal with Clutter and items that you love but have no more use for. Baby clothes, favourite kids toys, favourite books? Do you even feel like I do and feel a bit sick and have trouble saying goodbye to items? What are your tricks? I would love to know.
Congratulations on lightening the load. I know, getting rid of stuff can be so hard, but having clearer spaces feels so good too.
I find it is much easier for me to de-clutter our home when I’ve been away from it for a few days. I’ve also found it much easier since we down-sized – I could always make excuses before but now I feel the weight of the clutter a lot more.
Clothing is probably the most challenging area for me and I have a few tricks. One is to sketch out my favourite outfits (without being able to see my closet). (I usually find myself wishing I had a few other pieces that went better and this is helpful for my sewing and knitting pursuits too.) When I do open the closet I see all those things I had forgotten about. Sometimes I can pack them away in a corner and then as I remember things I would like to keep wearing I pull them out. Every time I go back in the bin I find things I’ve forgotten about and if those things still haven’t been pulled out by the time we’re at that season again then they need to go to the clothing swap or thrift store.
I still find I have too much and look forward to refining what I want for my work and home wardrobes. Another piece of my problem is the sewing I’ve done. Back before I understood what it was to customize a pattern I made shirts that were too short or skirts that were too plain. I’d like to make properly fitting versions of those things and have been holding on to one shirt for nearly 10 years without wearing it. I’m not sure I even like it any more but time and again I pull it from the discard pile!
Best of luck to you in slimming things down as you prepare for life on the bus. It will be worth it!
It may be strange but I have very little problems with getting rid of own clothes. I have actually brought my clothing down to a point that I am in need of clothes at time. I did a BIG purge about 2 years ago. I do have a bin for seasonal stuff but other then that that I have very little in my closet.
Getting rid of the kids clothes is another story but now that that big amount is gone, I think it will be a lot easier. I do wish that there was a better organization in the area though for donating. I need to find one.
The response you had from the lady who you gave the clothes and chair to is exactly the thing that keeps me giving things away rather than hoarding them.
We moved house back in October and I really struggled to clear our house. Over the years we have found so many great things in charity shops and at jumble sales and come home really excited about a new game or a really cool new coat. Thinking about how people might feel about these things when we pass them on helps me let go of them.
Keep the joy of others in your mind and this will get easier for you I’m sure.
That is a very good point and it does make me feel so good to get a response like that from someone that needed it.
Over the years I have had a bit of reluctance to bring things to the local organization. It is not that I do not think they do good overall, but things rarely make it to the shelves before being taken by one of the employees. So all of the nice clothes, toys or small items often do not reach those that might need it the most and though they do provide jobs and need to make money the prices are often exuberant. I think that I need to find a place that I feel better about so that it will be easier.
Hi! I was curious about breast feeding so I was Googling around and your “4000 days…” post caught my eye. From there I caught up thanks to your Highlight posts page (great idea), which led me to you “We Are Not Robots” post. LOVE! I bookmarked it for the future. I’m not pregnant but I’d like to have kids someday so I try to read up on this stuff to educate myself, as frequently as I can. It’s amazing to me that so few friends of mine (WITH KIDS) bothered to educate themselves about birth options, etc. Maybe the science-geek in me just likes to have as much information as possible, I don’t know. I was so lucky to have a bit of a hippie for a mom because she informed a lot of how I think about these things, and your blog has been such a reminder of these roots. Like a breath of fresh air. I’ll definitely be bookmarking as a daily read, especially after reading this post which I SO relate to! 🙂
Anyways, didn’t mean to write you such a book here, but I wanted to say that I bought two books this past fall to help me deal with my clutter that have truly changed my life. As you described it, my home (and soul) feels lighter now. It’s incredible. The first book I was drawn to, I swear, at the bookstore. I wandered to a section I had no desire to look through and there it was. And I NEVER buy books. I was just killing time. It’s Karen King’s “Clear your clutter with feng shui”. I loved learning about the emotional drives behind my clutter and it was tremendous in helping me deal with it. Since doing so, my life has changed for the better in SO many ways. Life-changing. I tell everyone to buy this book. The other is “Organize Now” by Jennifer Ford Berry. I’ve followed this a little less strictly, but it is also incredible. It’s a week-by-week guide to simplifying your space and life. Really great tips and if you can follow along, I’m sure it’d be amazingly useful. So far, I’ve cherry-picked my chapters and follow-through actions.
I totally get it. (hugs) I have been having a hard time getting rid of stuff from my youngest. And the first time I got rid of stuff from my oldest, I sat and cried.
Hi! In reading your latest blog, I feel like you are describing me! I am currently renovating and needing to do a great cleanup but when it comes to books or clothes that remind me of happier times when the kids were little, I feel completely frozen and cannot bear to part with it. I know it does not make any sense but cannot get past this. My kids are 17 and 13 and I am still hanging on to their stuff like their lives depend on it. I think of you often since meeting you in the PACU that quiet night following your daughter’s surgery. Hang in there…you are not alone!