This is me...

This is me...
I'm having a mom moment....

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Stuffitis

I have been trying to par down the amount of crap in our house.  It is not going well.  I have decided that my entire family suffers from a severe case of "Stuffitis."  Stuffitis is a condition that results from having incredible amounts of stuff in your house.  Often times, you don't know where this stuff came from, or what it is for, or where it goes.  This is the case in my house. 

Forget the toys -- with 4 kids, we (of course) have too many of those.  I'm talking about random stuff.  Stuff like decorative boxes that serve no purpose.  They are too small to hold anything, you don't remember where they came from, you don't know if they were a gift or something you purchased because they were on clearance or just seemed like a good idea at the time.  Then there are the "inherited" items.  I have copious amounts of inherited items.  I have sheets, dishes, backpacks, knick-knacks, you name it and I probably have at least one of it somewhere in this house.  And the inherited items are giving me fits.  These sheets came from my grandmother's house, or my great-aunts house, or my mom's house.  These knick-knacks were the same.  My grandmother made or decorated this basket.  These books were my grandfather's.  Never mind that I will never use these sheets, that I HATE knick-knacks, or that I will NEVER read these books -- they belonged to someone that meant the world to me and I don't want to get rid of them.  Boxing up their stuff and taking it to Goodwill seems heartless and mean.  But honestly, I don't want them.  When my grandparents died, I wanted to surround myself with their things because I wanted them back and having their things close to me was a way to comfort myself.  But as time has passed, and I have moved forward in the grieving process, I no longer need to have all of their stuff, yet I don't know what to do with it.  My grandmother was a crafter -- she sewed, she painted ceramics, and she made things.  She died almost 13 years ago.  How do I box up something she painted and give it away?  I don't think I can.  I just have to get rid of something else.  The "practical" items like sheets are easier to let go because they wear out, and there really isn't anything sentimental about a sheet set.

Then there are the "I might need this SOMEDAY" items.  These are also here in abundance.  With 4 little kids, I do very little entertaining.  No dinner parties or receptions, more like backyard barbecues 2-3 times a year.  Yet I have china, silver, serving platters, crystal stemware, tablecloths, napkins, etc. that I not only don't use and have to find places to store, but I also have to keep my deviant minions from breaking these items or using the linens for super hero capes.  See, I'm Southern.  It is a requirement when you get married to register for all of these things.  Even if you don't register for them, you get them.  I hope to need these items at some point in my life because I do enjoy entertaining, but I haven't actually had most of them out of their bubble-wrap since 1999.  I am telling my girls to be more practical and realistic when they get married -- register for gift cards and a Costco membership.  You can always go and get those items when you get to that point in your life, but getting them at a point when you and your husband are living in a studio apartment is a little ridiculous.  But fancy dishes and stuff are not the only problem.  Our garage is full of items like lawn chairs and coolers.  We are NOT outdoorsy people.  Yet we have a ton of camping equipment type items -- including a 10 man tent and at least 4 coolers.  We don't want to get rid of these items because should there be a Zombie Apocalypse and we have to go on the road to stay alive, we need to be prepared.  We also have enough tools and scrap wood in the garage to build a small addition.  Unfortunately, with the husband working 6 days a week on second shift, he hasn't actually built anything since we moved out here.  But, should we ever need 7 2X4's and some scrap plywood, we've got it covered.

Along the same lines of the "someday" is my closet.  My closet has basically 4 sections.  It has the normal section -- for the size I usually am; the fat section -- for those days after I eat a bag of Rolos and have 2 cokes; and the skinny section -- for when I make it to the gym more than once a week and drink the water instead of the coke.  Most women have these 3 sections in their closets.  I also have the "I have a dream section."  This is where the jeans that I wore in 1993 await me.  I know that they will NEVER fit me again.  I have had 4 kids (and the last one was over 10 pounds).  Even if I lose enough weight, the loose skin around my belly means that I will always have a muffin-top.  But I hold onto them just in case I am wrong, and the monster mid-section that my kids have given me proves more elastic than I think it is.

There are also MANY things that I have purchased over the years.  I have DVD's that I own because I love the movie, but I honestly hardly ever watch the movies that I own.  In fact, I rented 2 movies last night.  I got rid of about 200 movies before we moved here from Georgia, just to trim things down.  However, if there is one thing I love more than movies, its books.  I am a reader, and I have a serious problem with getting rid of books.  Most people read books.  I devour them.  I read Stephen King's "It" in one sitting.  Same thing with "The Stand," "Gone With The Wind," every one of the "Harry Potter" books, and just about every other book I ever sat down with.  Up until last year, I still had all of my college text books and a few from high school.  I donated more than 300 books to the local library and at least that many before we moved here 4 years ago.   

Then there is the random other crap that piles up -- the plastic grocery sacks that I keep meaning to go turn in but haven't yet, the magazines that I was going to recycle, the junk mail that pours into this house with unrelenting consistency, and the kid's stuff.  My kids have to pick up random crap from other people's houses, it's the only explanation for some of the things I discover.  A few weeks ago, I found a t-shirt in my 7-year old's drawer from a 5K in Oregon.  We have never been to Oregon.  Nor have any of us ever participated in a 5K.  I have also found toys that I have no idea where they came from.  Small stuffed animals that the 4 year old has named and formed an unnatural attachment to like the small stuffed horse named "Cloppy" that I don't know where she got it.  Where does this STUFF come from???

As I was procrastinating (before I started writing the blog for today) I was watching TV.  And I think that I have the problem figured out.....it's not our fault that we have all of this stuff.  Television is full of advertisements for "stuff" that you "need."  Then there are more advertisements for items to clean your stuff, store your stuff, display your stuff, etc.  There are shows on reality TV telling you that you can sell your stuff so that you can go out and buy MORE stuff.  There is "new and improved" stuff to replace the stuff that you already have.  There are attachments and accessories for your stuff that make it better.  Stuffitis is not a problem in just my house -- it is a nationwide epidemic. 

I have put my kids on notice.  We are getting rid of stuff.  LOTS of stuff.  Some of the stuff that is going, they are NOT want to see go, but it doesn't matter.  Our house will NEVER be clean because all of the stuff is in the way.  We HAVE to get out from under all of this stuff because it is bogging us down.  Since my husband and I got married 13 years ago, we have moved 6 times.  Our first apartment was 900 square feet, and this house is about 2,000.  So although we have more than doubled the size of our domicile, we have TRIPLED the size of our family.  We don't need this stuff.  I'm tired of picking this stuff up, cleaning this stuff, moving this stuff around, and trying to find places to put this stuff.  I don't know if I have it in me to do a yard sale, but I will be selling some of this stuff on Craigslist and the money will not be used to buy more stuff.  It will be put into a college fund, or a vacation account, or emergency fund.  Or maybe I'll use the money for a spa day.....

4 comments:

Xinh said...

I understand how you feel about not wanting to get rid of the stuff that belonged to loved ones because of the emotional attachment. One thing you can do is take a picture of the stuff, put the picture in an album (if it's digital, save it somewhere), and then give the stuff away. This way, you still have the memories and someone else can enjoy the actual item.

Kirstin said...

The way I always did it and serves me well today. If the kids haven't used it in a year, you haven't used it in a year and you haven't worn it in a year. It's gone. Just like if you've been "planning" a garage sale for over a year it isn't worth it. I can understand if for example it's your dad's first guitar but yeah that's the rule of thumb I've always used. Doesn't always work but hell, it's worth a shot.

Tara said...

Love Xinh's suggestion. It was the one I was going to make. I saw a show once where the entire house was a monument to a dead someone who died like 20 years ago. They encouraged her to make a little shadow/display box of the things she REALLY liked and to let the rest go.

As for the other stuff, I understand. We moved here 2 months ago. Yesterday I hauled a full garbage bag out to the dumpster. From one bedroom.

farmbeachgal said...

I had the same problem with my grandmother's stuff. And I am also a former Southerner (born in LA). Anyway, I finally donated a bunch of her old knick-knacks to a charity yard sale. I felt so happy that a) the money from these items was going to a good cause, and b) that the people who bought these things looked like they were going to cherish them as much as I had.

Good luck cleaning out!
Anne from http://bringingboryahome.blogspot.com.