In fact, the amount of things I saved as a child was a source of major contention with my Mama.
She isn't known for keeping things due to sentimentality.
Like, at all.
So, having a daughter who didn't want to throw away a gum wrapper because so-and-so gave it to her...was rather difficult. I was a pack rat who shoved my "special things" into every nook and cranny I could find.
And I thought Mama was mean and nasty and pretty much had no soul for making me throw out and give away so many things that were special to me.
I was completely wrong.
My Mama was a saint for dealing with me.
She was teaching me that people aren't wrapped up in the stuff they give you.
She was giving me skills and vision that would prove to be quite useful in this transient, military, life.
She was planting seeds (and hoping they would take root!) to keep me off of Clean Sweep, Clean House, and Hoarders.
She is pretty much, totally awesome.
Now that I have a house of my own - a house of 6 humans who all are attached to their crap at various levels - I'm getting to implement my own de-clutter methods and lessons.
It is not easy.
It is not always fun.
But it keeps the house running smoother, and happier, and calmer.
So keeping the clutter at bay is a pretty good thing.
In our house, we have toy clutter, paper clutter, clothing clutter, special decor clutter, and just normal-life clutter.
Basically, I have an endless supply of stuff to do.
Hooray for job security!
The battles over clutter fought between me and my mom were brought to the forefront while I was working in the girl room. Holyheckamama. String Bean just might be the most sentimental person every made; Jumping Bean is allergic to putting things away; and Bitty Bean is a world-class pack rat.
These children are just like their mama.
(So I repeated to myself 10 million times over)
We started with their clothing.
(Side note - about 95% of their clothing has been generously handed down to us...and then we've passed it through all 3 girls and my 2 nieces, and then on to other families.)
What I DID do was this:
First, we went through ONE type of clothing, per girl, at a time. (As in, t-shirts)
I pulled all her t-shirts out and invariably there were a couple shirts that she had not worn in forever.
Then, I would ask - "Do you like all of these shirts? Are there any shirts that bug you? Or are itchy? Or you just don't like to wear?"
That got rid of a couple right off the bat - in a very painless way!
Next, I would give them a number that they could keep. They were able to decide which shirts they kept from the excess shirts they had. The number varied by item and by child. Some children are just neater! But most of the time, they were allowed to keep 8 of an item. (PJ's were only 4, underwear and socks were more than 8)
If the older two had an item that no longer fit them, I saved it for the next sister. If Bitty Bean was done with something, I passed it on to another family.
They each have a couple items that have sentimental value for this mama, and I keep those in my cedar chest. So far, we have the outfit each came home from the hospital in, a favorite onesie or baby dress, a special dress all 3 of them wore for different occasions, a pair of preemie socks, and a couple special t-shirts from various activities.
Side note - the bucket system of organizing their clothes (as opposed to a dresser with drawers) has worked about a million times better for our house. Nothing against dressers - this just has made my life a LOT easier.
Labeling the buckets is where I went a little crazy.
They already had labels on their buckets - I had made them while ago, but since I wasn't sure the system would work, they were NOT pretty. I had used a sharpie on scrap paper, laminated it, cut it wildly uneven, hole-punched, and hung it. I completely forgot to take a picture. Just trust me - they weren't pretty.
But I learned the labeling was a vital part to keeping their room clean and the dressing process smoother.
Since we already had 3 colors in the room due to their bedspreads, I decided to continue with the color coding for everything else. I bought a pack of coordinating scrapbook paper from Target for $5.00 and went to town. String Bean has teal, (this is her sweater bin)
Jumping Bean is pink, (t-shirts)
and Bitty Bean is purple (pants).
Due to the kindness of a friend with a Cricut - their labels now look adorable. I have never done paper crafts before - and I don't see it happening often - but it was fun. (Well, for the first half of gluing all the pieces together. The second half? I was ready to find my sharpie.) After everything dried, I covered the papers with contact paper to protect them and punched a hole in the top. Then they were tied on with strips of fabric I cut off a thrifted Queen sheet. (I have used that sheet for many, many projects - that was $0.50 well spent!)
Ta-da! And done.
We also have all 3 in ballet - which means 3 pars of tights, ballet shoes, and leotards...and since tags are the most annoying things EVER....the sizes are lost in the cosmos. To solve the problem of constantly-missing-ballet-gear....I made them special bags for their stuff! Each bag has their name on it, and that is the only place their ballet items can go.
Beautiful.The only problem was, they kept losing the bags.
3 command hooks (oh how I love thee!) later, and everything has a place. Their ballet bag stays on the hook, except for on ballet days, and we have not had trouble in locating the appropriate gear on the day we need it, since!
One final space left to organize: the closet.
Due to the brilliant suggestion of a friend, their dresses and jackets are also color coded. By Hanger.
Since they were needing bigger hangers anyway - especially the older two - I just bought adult hangers in their colors. You wouldn't think that would make a big difference, but you would be wrong. Holy cow. Everyone know which dresses are theirs, it has solved about a million disagreements, and other people can now easily grab a sweater or jacket for the correct child.
It was a TON of work to get us to this point. But completely worth it. The girls can keep their room tidy - and WANT to do so! - with minimal help. They know where everything goes, and can keep it there because it isn't jammed in and barely fitting. I am happy. They are happy.
Life is good.
How do YOU handle the clothing clutter in your home?
~Whitney Copyright 2013