Permission to Throw it Away

No.  I’m not talking about getting permission from my child to throw her stuff away.

I’m talking about giving myself permission.

Permission to finally throw away these once-loved-but-no-longer-used items.

Books are nice.  They rarely feel like clutter, and are so easily donated.

Toys with lots-of-teeny-tiny-parts?  They’re not nice.  They feel like clutter on Day One, and they’re a nightmare to donate.

A combination book/toy-with-lots-of-teeny-tiny-parts?  It’s like a torture device designed specifically for Slob Mamas.

The hopelessness of ever finding all the parts.

The guilt of throwing away a perfectly good book.

I consider this a head-exploding decision.  And if you’ll remember, I recently decided that if an item makes me feel that my head is going to explode . . . I’m just going to throw it away.

Not donate it.


I’m doing my duty as an anti-clutter advocate.  I’m sparing the person who has to sort the donations.  I’m improving the efficiency of that thrift store by removing the need for the employees to agonize over this decision.  I’m sparing the mother who hopes her child won’t notice that this book is supposed to have a little projector and lots of teeny-tiny slide-thingies.

Because we all know they’re going to notice. 

I used to donate imperfect things hoping someone would buy it who had the same vision for its possibilities that I had.

AND the drive to actually follow through on those possibilities.  Which I didn’t have.

I’m still questioning whether I made the right decision.  But I can’t really worry about it since the trash went out this morning.

And the fact that I can’t worry about it makes me totally glad I did it. 


See my decluttering page for lots of decluttering examples and lots of tips on how to declutter.



  1. 1

    This is why we have clutter, isn’t it? Because we over-think everything. A person who doesn’t understand why we have the clutter we have is the type of person who would chunk the book-without-the-million-parts without a second thought about it.

    And, yes, I despise those book/toy things, too… 🙂

    • 2

      Exactly! There are just soooo many possibilities!

    • 3

      I’m either overthink or don’t think. If I could just be consistent it would be nice. I tried to give each of my kids a plastic bin that they could put in their keepsakes and when it’s full, no more. Yeah, that didn’t work.

  2. 4

    You are my hero, for coming out and being so open about the clutter problems I’ve always struggled with. You’re doing a fantastic job of exposing, exploring, and guiding change in the thought processes that have lead to my house being such a disaster. I feel like I’ve finally found someone on the same wavelength, and to see you make progress is so inspiring!

    Every time I read your posts I learn new ways to approach the mess in ways that actually work for me, and am inspired to DO SOMETHING EASY instead of feeling utterly overwhelmed and pretending it’s not there. There is a light in the tunnel! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  3. 6

    Oh, and the exploding head guideline has been a big part of my breakthrough. What a great solution to all that angst, indecision, and clutter!

  4. 7

    i SO get where you are coming from on this topic. it’s VERY hard to make the distinction between something SOMEone might want or use. but the truth is, if it’s at all damaged or stained or slightly torn, even though it might be TOTALLY easy to fix, the places that accept donations simply don’t want it. when i finally realized this, it was such a huge relief and made my decision-making process so much easier.

  5. 8

    I just cleaned out two trash bags of all that “little stuff” and broken stuff from my girls’ toy stash and talk about feeling better! I got all their toys into a cabinet downstairs in our craft/toy/rec room and out of my living room. Their rooms are yet to be tackled. I just didn’t think too much about it because THEY haven’t thought too much about these toys in a long time! Where I run into trouble is pulling things for the spring consignment sale. Do I want to bag this stuff up and store it for 5-6 months, only to find out it didn’t meet their quality standards?! That’s where I struggle. Oh, and to stress to the grandparents that tons of toys are not needed this year for Christmas!

  6. 9

    I understand, I so understand. I just threw out a huge box of puzzle pieces because I could not bring myself to set down and put together 40-50 little kid puzzles knowing half had missing pieces, just dumped them all out. It was hard and goes against my nature (which is why we had them all dumped in a box to begin with).
    But just so you know, my mom is the one who buys those toys with missing pieces and parts and gives them to my kids…yup lots of them. I always think someone creative could really use…… and think about donating it then I think of my mom buying it and giving it back….its easier to throw out. Although if I have a box of stuff I will list it on craiglist or freecycle, often I find crafty people who want it.

  7. 10

    We are tossers at my house. Both of us. David tosses a little more freely than I do. My mom used to give me stuff all the time (stuff she didn’t want). If I didn’t end up needing it, I gave it away or tossed it. Then later she’d ask me about it. She finally learned (for the most part) not to give me stuff I didn’t want. I love being a tosser.

    You can do it! And it will make you feel so good!!!

  8. 11

    I used to hang on to the items that were missing pieces with the idea that i could find the pieces to make the item whole and thus more valuable to donate – then I learned missing pieces would become found just after their item had been irretrievably disposed of!

  9. 13
    Jennifer says:

    two words: infant socks. bags upon bags of mis-matched infant socks handed down to me from my sister,through two kids, then from me back to her, then to my other sister, and now back to me again (count’em- 6 kids)… i’m only just now finally bringing myself to throw them away, and only because we have all said that we’re done having kids…. yes. we have problems.

  10. 14

    I am doing a major de-clutter over the next few months. I call it “Move in Place,” meaning to pretend we ae moving, but stay in place here. I have been in the same home for 25 years, that is a great deal of “Stuff” to go through bit by bit.

  11. 15
    Christine Bock says:

    Oh my goodness…we have those little disc thingies but I’m not sure where the projector is or if we even have the book anymore. I’m hanging on to so many items from my daughter’s childhood because I want to put the pieces together and donate them together. Funny thing is, I work in a thrift shop, so I’m going out of my way to do the work ahead of time so items have a chance to be loved again. Talk about head ready to explode!

  12. 16

    I’m starting now. I’ve procrastinated until 4:22pm this Saturday, and since I moved out on my own over 10 years ago. I will not question these rules I am presenting now:

    Throw away things I do not use even it is was a gift

    Throw out all clothes I have not fit into for 5 years. Not donate. No one my area NEEDS anything I own.

    I will work longer than 2 hours.

    Things that are “almost gone” are trashed.

    I will stop procrastinating by writing this list…

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