As I work out in the hot and muggy garage this week, my daughter is having a great time. Unfortunately, a large portion of her joy comes from finding long-forgotten toys meant for our upcoming garage sale.
My automatic answer to her “Can I keep this?” question is no. But if she stays obsessed with it for a few days, I reconsider. (As I’m typing, I’ve just had the idea to do the one-for-one-swap idea with her . . . hmmm.)
I do feel her pain. It’s hard to see some things go. As I go through all of this stuff in the garage, I have chosen to keep a few things. I decided, after cleaning out the linen closet, that I was going to get rid of the white eyelet sheet set and bed skirt that I had never used. Today, as I folded them up, I changed my mind. Once the garage is cleaned out, and we can get to it, I want to put some more things in the attic, and I believe my daughter’s bed frame is up there. When we put her in a big girl bed, we didn’t use the bed frame so it wouldn’t be so far down if she fell out. She’s been ready for a real bed for . . . . a while now. I decided to keep the bed skirt and matching sheets, because I’m fairly certain I’ll be using them soon.
Also, yesterday, as I was loading up a huge ice chest to be used only for the purpose of keeping my son’s “must be refrigerated” medicine cold on the 45 minute drive home from the pharmacy, I realized that I had a perfectly sized little insulated backpack/lunch sack . . . in the garage sale stuff. I’ve had that thing for years, and have never used it. I definitely didn’t need to keep it when I decided to put it in the sale, but now I have an actual use for it.
A few years ago, when I used to sell on eBay regularly, I had listed all of my baby boy clothes in auctions. ALL of them. Even my very favorite ones . . . the ones that made me sigh every time I looked at them because I could just picture my newborn little boys wearing them. I was so sick and tired of all of my clutter that I had decided everything had to go. No sentimentality allowed. Complete and total purging was necessary.
My mother-in-law was in the hospital at the time, and I went to visit her, along with my own mother. We started talking about how I was selling the clothes, and they both mentioned how they had kept a few outfits from each of their children, and how glad they were to still have them. Both of these ladies just have normal-people clutter struggles, not slob ones, so I was relieved to hear them say that it was okay to keep one, or even a few, of my favorite baby outfits . . . just because I wanted to.
I remember being panicked as I drove home, scared that the outfit I knew I wanted to keep would already have some bids on it. I ran in and immediately ended that listing.
Like sooooo many things in life, it’s about balance. Because for years I got rid of nothing, when I got to the point of complete despair and frustration, I thought I had to get rid of everything. But each of those methods has its flaws. It’s not okay to keep training pants and odd socks, but I think it is okay to keep that one special outfit with its precious matching hat that you put him in every single time you showed him off to new people for the first time.
Maybe, if I can make real changes in how we live our everyday lives, seeing the value in being consistent, and not letting clutter get out of hand, that balance will be easier to achieve and maintain.