>> Friday, April 1, 2016
There's really no secret tip or trick for the best way to actually go through your stuff. For us, it made the most sense to touch everything -- or at least get our eyes on each item. Tedious? Indeed. But this way we could ensure that we weren't parting with anything that was actually important or critical (which is particularly key when going through old paperwork!).
Here's what we did. It may or may not make sense in your situation:
- First cleared out the main house from anything -- like extra furniture -- we didn't want. This uncovered all sorts of stuff that had been hiding in nooks and crannies. We created a few "miscellaneous" bins and put them in the garage for further investigation.
- We also went through closets, drawers, and cabinets for the same reason. More misc. boxes came out to the garage to be staged for the next step.
- Then we went bin by bin in our garage (it was helpful to have an outdoor space so close to our car) and started sorting things by where we intended to take it. (You can read more about that below.)
- As we got enough stuff to take to a certain place, we'd clear some of it out. For example, we took two trips to the Salvation Army in one day to make room for more organization. Then later that day, we decided to take a trip to the trash place with our construction waste, again, to make more room to continue on.
- Anything we were keeping was promptly put into it's right place in the house. In the case of sentimental stuff, we did put it back in labeled bins that went down to the basement.
- And then we just kept at it. We took more trips to the drop-offs and kept clearing out. After not too long, the space was clearing and we could breathe again.
- We saved our paperwork for last. We took our time on this one because we didn't want to get rid of any documents that might be important in the long run.
- Then we decided to go through the house just once more to make sure there wasn't anything left that we could part with. We actually got another van load from our second go-through. I think it's because once we got started, we realized how freeing it is to purge. And it helped put the stuff in perspective . . . so we were ready to just let go.
Where Stuff Went
The majority of things went to our local donation center. We even called a number the person at the checkout gave us for some furniture pickup that's scheduled for next Tuesday. Always make sure to get a receipt so you can write off your donations next year at tax time.
Once Upon a Child
This is a store in my area (and I think in other areas) that buys gently used and good quality kids stuff from toys to clothing. We sold a bunch of things we know we won't need with baby #2 here. And you know how I found a brand new BOB stroller at Target on clearance a few months ago? We sold our old one (it was in OK condition) for $75! I think that's a great return on that. With everything we sold (which was only a small box), we made out with nearly $200 without having to host a yard sale.
I sent some of my nicer clothing to thredUP and am waiting to see how much $$$ I'll get. It's always worth a try to send clothes off (or go to your local consignment shop) to see if you can get anything for them before donating.
We had a lot of construction waste, like old boards with rusty nails, etc. We took all this stuff to our local center to dispose of it properly. In addition, we took some trashed computers and other recycling there because they know what to do with it. Just make sure you've cleared off any information that could potentially be taken. You never know.
We did find some things we thought our friends could use, so we asked and gave as the opportunity arose. I like the idea of having clothing swaps and the like. We have done that even with kitchen things in the past. It takes a village.
What did we do with Ada?
So many people have asked where Ada was during all this cleaning. Well, I estimate that we spent around 4 hours a day actively sorting and taking trips. We used Stephen's spring break versus doing something fun, so it was a big sacrifice. But we did the bulk of it during nap time (Ada slept 2 hours most days). Now that she's four, though, she was able to hang around us and even help. Her favorite part was taking small boxes to the van for donation.
In other words: It wasn't hard. I don't know what it would be like trying to do this with more kids, but we've always been able to do house projects and stuff with Ada right alongside us. Don't let it be an excuse!
OK. It's Friday, so next week I'll start off with a post I'm calling "why simple organizing doesn't work." We're getting close to the end, so if you have any more questions about this process -- let me know!
And don't forget to catch up on this series:
Eliminating the Maybe
7 Clutter Categories
Cleaning Week Snapshots