Better late than never. At least that's what my mother always told us. She's one of those people who is never ever on time. For anything. I inherited a bit of that tardiness.
Here it is eight weeks into 2011 and I saw a posting on Facebook the other day that led me to a blog by a radio disc jockey related to a new year's resolution. Apparently several of the DJs on our Chicagoland country station agreed to following this resolution together. It actually sounded like something I could follow through with for the entire year. It was to get rid of a bag a week - that's 52 bags over the course of the year.
With a family of seven squeezed in to a small cape cod-style house, we're short on space. Every closet is crammed. Every cabinet is overflowing. My husband in constantly urging me to purge. So, it seemed like a good idea. However, since I was already 7 weeks behind, I knew it would take some major organizing to catch up and get rid of seven bags. Over a couple days, I was able to do it without any problem. Here's what I've gotten rid of so far:
Bags 1 through 4 were filled with items from the bedroom of my two youngest boys. Most of it was under the bed of my 5-year-old, who is an absolute hoarder. They could start a reality show on hoarder kids and he would fit. He is constantly collecting little things in Ziploc bags. I can't tell you how many little plastic bags I found filled with happy meal toys, paper clips, erasers, stickers, pencils, papers, Tupperware lids, little army men, LEGO bricks, plastic spoons, batteries, rubber bands and other various items. They weren't full-size garbage bags, but rather plastic shopping bags, so probably equal to 1 1/2 full size bags.
Bags 5 and 6 were paper bags that I filled with books I plan to pass down to my nieces. On one hand, I have this thought that books are meant to be shared and passed on. Really, how many times can you read the same book? Well, not so many times if it's a 400-page adult novel, but for a child who hasn't yet learned to read or is just learning, there's no such thing as too many times. I've read some books on the shelf so many times I have them completely memorized. Some are hard to part with because I can remember reading them to my teen and pre-teen back when they were little enough to fit in my lap. However, I decided it was time to slim down the book collection and keep only what would fit on their bookshelf in their room. Now the key will be to pass on or donate more books as they get new ones so it's not spilling over into piles on the floor or boxes full in the closet.
Bag 7 was filled with various pieces of clothing that no longer fit the boys or that I haven't worn in some time. It's filled and ready for the next Goodwill drop off.
Bag 8 was filled with some of the like-new name brand 4T clothing that my youngest has outgrown. All five of my children are boys, so clothes tend to just keep getting handed down until they either are worn out or have been outgrown by the youngest. For the past couple years, I've packed up the clothes that were too small and passed them on to my 2 1/2 year old nephew. Problem is, he is now the same size as my 5-year-old son. So, I decided I'd pull out the pieces that were in good condition and that I'd buy if I saw at a garage sale or second hand store. I listed them on eBay, so not only am I getting rid of something no longer being used, but I'll get a little cash out of it. Well, I'll get some in my PayPal account, that is - that I know I will turn around and use to bid on other clothes on eBay. At least it will help fund the additions to their wardrobe.
At this point, I was technically caught up, but I'm on a roll, so here's what else I've done:
Bag 9 - I continued through the closets, pulling out shirts that the older boys aren't wearing and will be posting them on eBay as well.
Bag 10 - I went through all the extra shoes, boots and sandals we had. It was quite an accumulation. Within a few minutes I had a full-sized garbage bag loaded with kids shoes to get rid of. I also filled a small bag with shoes that had no match anywhere in sight - probably 6 of them!!!! They went in the garbage, which surely means that the matches will suddenly appear out of nowhere.
Bag 11 - Inspired by a friend's recent Facebook status asking how often you replace your sheets, I decided to take inventory. I realized that I had a dozen sets of queen-sized sheets. Each time I got a new set, I kept the old. I don't know why. I guess I was thinking that at some point one of the kids might acquire a queen size bed or we'd get a camper and they'd come in handy. But when I looked at them and thought back, I realized that a couple sets we had before we even got married - and we've been married almost 20 years. I never threw away a set of sheets since we've been together. Obviously, most of them have seen better days. Some got pitched, some went to the garage to be used for rags or painting. I'm down to 4 sets now.
Bag 12 - We cleaned a couple shelves under the basement stairs. Moved some to the garage, but pitched a bag full of stuff we didn't even know was there.
This week, I hope to get through a file cabinet, where I'm sure I can easily fill a bag of recycling and my Tupperware and Rubbermaid containers where I'm sure I could fill a bag of containers without lids or lids with no corresponding containers.
Unlike a diet, a grueling workout routine or a huge lifestyle change, this seems to be a resolution I can make work. I'm off to a good start. I'll blog later on to post my progress. Hey, better late than never, right?