Devious decluttering

by S&M

Clutter Confessions: The One Thing of Theirs I Wish I Could Toss

Haha! This could be fun. Expanding it from romantic partners to include other family members, I’d say I’m really not a fan of the generic black/white reversible jersey from the Y that my son has tacked up on his wall. Between me not having to look at it and teens needing to experiment with their own identity, I don’t think it’s worth the battle that would ensue if I insisted he take it down.

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248 thoughts on “Devious decluttering

  1. Hah! When we got married, DH had a recliner — not as bad as the one in Frasier, but just sort of giant (stained) beige and bulky. Took several years to get rid of that monstrosity — I had to agree to a slightly-less-ugly sofa that had integral recliners in the end seats (which I ended up loving). He also had spent years arguing with his sisters over his parents’ Scan-type Danish Moderne coffee table and end tables — one sister had the end tables and he had snagged the coffee table. Which, again, was gross and stained and *so* not my style. I finally got rid of that when we found an awesome metal coffee table at Seckler in Taos that we both loved. Coincidentally, the sister had decided to upgrade her furniture at the same time, so we went from “I get it” to “you take it.”

  2. We are in clutter hell. It’s a long story and I sure don’t know what that one thing is. But between about three waves of stuff coming into our house in the past 3 years and, for me, the emotional turmoil of going through the wave of my parents stuff that made it here to be sorted, I’m frayed. The worst part is when I have stuff stacked to go to Goodwill (or other similar organization) and other family members (who live under this roof) start shopping in it!

  3. “The worst part is when I have stuff stacked to go to Goodwill (or other similar organization) and other family members (who live under this roof) start shopping in it!”

    DH is the worst (or best) at this. I hide the Goodwill box in my car trunk or declutter when he’s out of town.

  4. We are in the midst of a major renovation that is requiring a systematic emptying of closets and drawers. It’s been great to be forced to clean out.

    Part of the renovation includes converting some attic space, and last night we had to completely empty the entire space. It took the 4 of us an hour to do it. We moved everything in the garage, and from there will sort what stays and what gets tossed in the dumpster conveniently located in our yard. I could not believe some of the things that came out of the attic. High school lacrosse sticks (and our children are not yet in high school). Cans of paint from 10 years ago when we first moved in. Snow boots. (?????)

  5. ” The worst part is when I have stuff stacked to go to Goodwill (or other similar organization) and other family members (who live under this roof) start shopping in it!”

    Ha! I have that problem, too, so I try to hide the stuff. It often goes that one family member will pull something out and say that another family member “could use this”. No!!! I breathe a sigh of relief when the stuff leaves the house.

    I have lots of books I’d like to get rid of but my DH objects. I can see some as sentimental, (my old geology glossary) but really others are just old (mediocre IMO) books that will never get re-read or stuff that can be Googled so easily.

  6. DW is the pack rat in our house. I’ve done some good decluttering over the last couple of months and the key is that she doesn’t know what I’m getting rid of. I just do it.

  7. This is why I like big houses.

    I should really get rid of some of my shoes. I still have many pairs of pumps from when I had to go to work every day looking presentable. Somehow it makes me feel old and useless to think I won’t wear them again, so I haven’t thrown them out. But really, one pair of black mid-heel pumps and one pair of black flats would cover all my pump needs.

  8. Somehow it makes me feel old and useless to think I won’t wear them again, so I haven’t thrown them out.

    You know, if a mid-heel pump emergency should arise at some future date, they have entire stores full of new shoes. In fact, they even have web sites that will send you shoes in the mail! Imagine that…

  9. You know, if a mid-heel pump emergency should arise at some future date, they have entire stores full of new shoes. In fact, they even have web sites that will send you shoes in the mail! Imagine that…

    LOL. Yeah, I know. But so many of these are still in great condition! (So obviously someone would be happy to grab them at Goodwill, I know, I know.)

  10. @AustinMom – do you have somewhere you can store your parents stuff like an attic or a storage unit? You still need time to process everything you’ve been through.

    It took me a long time to feel that I could go through my mom’s stuff. My parents lived in the same house for nearly 40 years. They decided to sell the house when my mom was sick as they thought she’d have more time, but she ended up passing away and we only had 3 weeks to go through the house and move my dad. I remember not being able to throw things away. I took things like her entire junk drawer with pencils, paper clips, etc. It took me a long time to start going through everything as we had thrown it up in the attic.

    Now I’ve gone in the other direction and want to get rid of all the things. It makes DH very nervous. After multiple purges of stuff, I am down to decorative items. I asked DH to look at what he wanted to keep, and he was too upset about getting rid of things, so we’ve left it there for 6 months now.

    DH grew up in a family of collectors. His mom collects Precious Moments and his dad collects playing cards. He’s the executor of the estate, and I’m dreading the day when we have to clean the house out. DH has the collecting gene. He collects books, which I can tolerate, because it could be much worse.

    When we first got married, DH and I bought Christmas decorations at Target after Christmas. We got a bunch of cheap crap. I went through the Christmas decorations I wanted to get rid of and DH was getting quieter and quieter. I could tell he was traumatized. I asked if we could throw out a $1 wooden bowl with a Santa Claus face on it, and he whispered, “You are a bad person.”

  11. I really enjoy Rhett’s perspective on clutter.

    New car dilemma – DH is buying a new car soon. We get a GM employee discount, so we are only looking at them. The 2017 Equinox is having serious discounts, and we can get a good deal on one with almost all the bells and whistles. The 2018 Equinox has just come out and apparently is redesigned (I don’t know the specifics), but wouldn’t have any discounts (other than the employee discount). The price difference is like $8k, so we’d be looking at a 2018 midrange package (no leather or heated steering wheel, to name a few) to get us in our price range. We plan to keep the car for a long time (current car is 12 years old). Is having the newest model worth it, or should we focus on the older model with a nicer interior?

  12. I still have a lot of my work clothes as well, although I am slowly giving them to my youngest sister. I am happily dumping my baby clothes on both of my sisters because I now have a nephew as well as a niece. DH is pretty good about decluttering so there’s nothing I really want to throw away, although his t-shirt drawer is ridiculously stuffed. Dh mercilessly throws the kids’ toys away (although he really has no clue what they play with so often ends up dumping their favorite things).

  13. DH & I are pretty aligned on getting rid of stuff frequently. The only thing that he is really holding onto that I would like to throw out is his childhood baseball card collection, which is sitting in a closet. I can’t really find much fault with keeping it for the sentimental value and to share with DS, but if it were purely up to me, I would throw them all in the garbage.

    DS isn’t really attached to his stuff – when we clean out his closet, he will freely give up anything that he doesn’t use.

    My parents on the other hand….their house is packed to the gills with all kinds of crap. My mom has clothing from the 70’s, books from the 60’s. Every report card of her OWN along with all of ours. It is insanity. They never throw anything away. Occasionally it is nice – my dad was able to dig up a vintage game that DS likes that is out of print, but most of it is just old crap. They’ve been talking about downsizing, and I really hope that they do – partially just because I hope then they will get rid of some of it.

    And then there is the office….some of my coworkers are retaining so much paper. When we moved to the open office plan, we went through an incredible amount of shredding bins & dumpsters. I shudder to think what our offsite storage warehouse looks like.

  14. Is having the newest model worth it

    It looks like the 2017 only has braking alert while the 2018 has autonomous emergency braking. That’s a big deal, especially if it’s going to end up being a teen drivers car in the future. Also, the 2018 looks like it comes with Android Auto and Apple Car Play which is also a huge plus.

  15. tcmama – that is hilarious about your husband. I tried to throw away my wedding shoes once because I will never wear them again and DH basically told me I had no heart. So they still sit in my closet today.

  16. My husband brought many polyester or largely polyester blend clothes into this marriage. Plus many hopelessly stained or moth eaten items, and shapeless T shirts with odd sayings. I have purged most of the obviously ratty items in ten years of marriage, but the T shirts are the hardest. I select heavy cotton t shirts for him as souvenirs wherever I go. I put the worst offenders into the overflow drawer in his dresser for a year, then toss em if he never seeks them out. He has a couple of favorites that I despise but do not have the right to chuck. He wears them when I am at least five states away. The poor guy got to bring very little to the decoration of our joint home. Just his mother’s original art work (on all the walls) plus a tchotchke or two. And a grand piano, of course.

    The induction stove was delivered today and of course now I have to deal with some unusable but “perfectly good” Farberware and aluminum Calphalon pots and pans. The junky ones have already been tossed, and the giant stockpot and griddle actually desired by and delivered to DIL. The rest are going up to the attic. You never know … This spring the old textbooks, discarded electronics and remaining moth magnet clothes will be targeted. Maybe the giant black comforter from my goth decorating phase. And the remaining chipped porcelain and ugly decorative items from both of our mothers. But the wing chairs have to stay. Child whiny voice, “But those were grandmom’s. I might want to reupholster them!”

    I donated all but two pair of my heels, lest I end up taller than DH. He notices. I have some silvery flats, too, for dressy occasions.

  17. Oh no, this post has taken a turn from playfulness to follow yesterday’s!

    we went from “I get it” to “you take it.”
    Haha! MCM is back in style, just in time for your DD to take them to college, if she wishes. That sofa sounds just like what my son wants, except he wants a massager part too.

  18. “I asked if we could throw out a $1 wooden bowl with a Santa Claus face on it, and he whispered, “You are a bad person.””
    Awesome ;)

  19. I really appreciate Rhett’s voice of reason on decluttering here. I find decluttering difficult and exhausting. I also find living with clutter difficult, stress inducing and exhausting. There is much I need to get rid of in the house, up to and including the very expensive crib that converts to a bed, which we bought for DD1. We lost the part that allows it to convert to a bed, and the crib itself is now illegal to transfer to another person because it has a drop side. Assuming that at some point at least one child will get married and have children, we won’t be able to give it to them because it will be a deathtrap from back in the day when parents knew nothing and babies were lucky to survive to toddlerhood. I’m not going to be the mother-in-law who clearly knows more than the children in law, so there is no conceivable use for this crib, but it sits, disassembled in oldest daughter’s closet.

  20. so there is no conceivable use for this crib, but it sits, disassembled in oldest daughter’s closet.

    Then why not walk over right now and move it to where you put the trash before it goes to the dump? Baby steps.

  21. We considered putting my parent’s stuff in storage. But, we wanted to have the furniture at our house and my girls got through the boxes they needed to late last summer. I was hoping them being there would make me more likely to go through them

  22. DH & I are pretty aligned on getting rid of stuff frequently. The only thing that he is really holding onto that I would like to throw out is his childhood baseball card collection, which is sitting in a closet. I can’t really find much fault with keeping it for the sentimental value and to share with DS, but if it were purely up to me, I would throw them all in the garbage.

    Have him go through them and pull out the “good” cards (the ones that are worth something or have real sentimental value to him) and toss the rest (called “commons”).

  23. Regarding putting stuff into storage….we have a friend who owns a self storage company. He is very careful about who rents storage units and what they can put in, because it is often cheaper to fill up a storage unit and pay a month’s rent than haul everything to the dump. Apparently, one was people deal with stuff they can’t bear to go through or throw out is to store it for a while, then stop paying the storage fees.

  24. We considered putting my parent’s stuff in storage.

    Are there any items work more than 5 or 10k*? Then just throw it all out. Why put some much time and effort into all this crap?

    * Does anyone here have anything of value? By value I mean anything that can be sold or auctioned within 3 months for more than $7500k. Keeping in mind a $25k engagement right might go for $7500. We certainly do not have anything of value.

  25. Then why not walk over right now and move it to where you put the trash before it goes to the dump? Baby steps.

    DH is much less inclined to get rid of clutter and have a much greater belief (justified, mind you) of his ability to fix things. And if I put it in the dumpster, he will see and retrieve it.

  26. Decluttering is a constant on my to-do list. We are overrun with electronics. DH refurbishes every computer he comes across, brings home drives and graphics cards that are being trashed at work, etc. There are like 5 desktops running in his office, and we just gave his brother desktop and laptop when we visited a month ago. I have offered to buy 1-2 new machines to replace the Wolfpack, but he has not taken me up on my offer. Similarly, we have multiple older Xbox and PS3 boxes that never get played, but we can’t get rid of in case at some point someone wants to play (this is DH, not the kids, saying this). The garage has multiple dirtbikes, some of which are for about an 8 yr old, and race bikes that haven’t been used in 10 years. It makes me nuts. He told me that in an editorial in one of his hobby magazines, the editor said the most frequent letter he gets is from widows asking for advice on what to do with a garage full of stuff, so he is starting to see that I am not unusual or unreasonable. In his defense, He grew up with the mentality that you better hang on to it because you never know when you’re going to need it, but if we ever desperately need a dirt bike for an 8 yr old, I’m confident we can find one. In the meantime, I’d like all this crap out of my garage.

  27. And if I put it in the dumpster, he will see and retrieve it.

    Is it a burn day? Just torch it.

  28. When my mom died, my brother and I went through her house and picked out what we wanted to keep. Then we had the Salvation Army come in and clean it out.

    Of course she lived in South Carolina, so shipping boxes of stuff to either of our homes to sort through leisurely wasn’t an option.

    On a related note, she had a Miro lithograph with a value of about $4,000. We paid a few hundred bucks to get it crated and shipped up to my brother so he could try to sell it. It turns out it’s actually a forgery, so now it’s sitting in his attic. Does anyone have any ideas on what we can do with it? Neither of us particularly like it. We’ve thought about putting it on ebay stating it’s a forgery, but it’s so expensive to ship it anywhere even if someone buys it.

  29. And sometimes, there is stuff that has no value, but that would be really nice to have. I am trying to track down some souvenirs my dad brought back from Japan and Korea. There were marginally displayed during my childhood, but so far each sibling I have asked doesn’t recall what happened to them.

  30. He grew up with the mentality that you better hang on to it because you never know when you’re going to need

    That’s a mentality I’ve never understood. I figure it you haven’t used something for several years, odds are you will never use it.

  31. We have a local online yard sale site where I post a lot of stuff. I am always amazed at what people will take. For the nicer stuff, I price it pretty low with the goal of having it gone by cob that day. For the junky stuff, I say it is free and there is almost always someone who wants it. I stick it on my porch and say it needs to be picked up by the next day or it is going to the curb for trash pick-up. It has totally replaced my Goodwill donations that used to sit around for far too long in the entry or my trunk. I love getting rid of stuff. I have very little sentimental attachment to things.

  32. “Have him go through them and pull out the “good” cards (the ones that are worth something or have real sentimental value to him) and toss the rest (called “commons”).”

    Yeah, he says he is going to do this. When he first got them out of his parents’ attic, he went through some of them, but then he lost steam. So they sit in the closet. I think he did throw out all the old magazines where he used to look up the value of each of the cards though. His favorites are already in a binder that he gave to DS. It was funny watching DS go through them, “Oh, Don Mattingly used to play baseball? I thought he was just a coach.” No, DS, he wasn’t born old. :)

  33. Omigod, where do I start? My DH is the WORST pack rat. I would love to get rid of the stacks of ancient cassette tapes that live in a cardboard box in the kitchen, waiting the day when he vows he will transfer to mp3 (he doesn’t even have a cassette player). There is the giant heavy doublebass jacket that he stuffs into the hall closet, on top of the suitcases so that the jacket has to get hauled out everytime I need the carryon bag when I have to go someplace. There are the bags of shirts he has purchased that sit in our bedroom – he won’t wear a new shirt until it has sat in a bag for at least a year – I think it is some kind of curing ritual, like smoking salmon or something. There are the piles of computer geegaws, the ancient turntable that takes up tons of space in the closet, the pope Halloween costume, the ugly plates that his mother gave him in grad school (because she hated them too and wanted them out of her house) and the stacks of running shoes because he never throws them out.

    And I wish he would open his mail instead of creating towers on the dining room table with it,

  34. Rhet, famous declutterer that you are, is there anything of your wife’s that you are itching to ditch, but she insists on keeping it?

  35. Saac,

    Nothing. You recall the cooler incident?

    “Honey – where is the cooler?” “I threw it out.” “Why” “We’re not using it.” “It’s the winter!”

  36. My daughter is a big contributor too. Yesterday, she brought home a bunch of old rusty gears. Some kid in her class gave them to her. Why did a kid in her class bring old rusty gears to school? I have no idea. Now we are the proud posessors of the gears, which she wants to clean with vinegar.

  37. It is funny. I am so good at decluttering, and I whisper the mantras of “Does it spark joy?” (Marie Kondo) and “When it doubt, throw it out” (Rhett Totebagger) constantly.

    And yet. And yet. There is always something that stymies me. Purses I don’t use, shoes I rarely wear, the couch in our bedroom that is totally wrong for the space. Why certain things have such stickiness, I do not know.

  38. The thing is, I knew he was a serious packrat and I married him anyway. Back when he lived on his own, he always had to rent a 2 bedroom so that he could have a “junk room”.

  39. Rhett – dying at the garbage can picture.

    Atlanta Mom – funny about the wedding shoes. I never knew what happened to my wedding dress. Turns out my sister had it because she had taken my mom’s cedar chest. I got a text a few months ago asking if I wanted my wedding dress otherwise she was getting rid of it. We’ve been married for 15 years. I said she could donate it. DH didn’t care about that at all.

    I used to worry about inheriting 150 Precious Moments and 3,000 decks of cards, but I think DH doesn’t want anything from his parent’s house. Whew.

    I love this post. I need to go find some more things to get rid of this weekend.

  40. Let me try this again:

    Does anyone have any ideas on what we can do with it that would get something back for it?

  41. My wedding dress is still hanging in my childhood bedroom at my dad’s house. I never cleaned it so it still has the footprint on it that my dad made when he was turning to walk back to his seat after giving me away. DH jokes that he’s going to make me try it on every year to make sure it still fits. I have no sentimentality about most things but I do hang onto that dress (albeit at someone else’s house so it’s not cluttering up mine).

  42. Rhett, I must’ve been away during the cooler post. Hilarious in third person, but I seriously would’ve killed you over that. I agree my dad’s fit about replacements for a lost bottle opener and nail clippers leading to financial ruin was a bit overboard, but a cooler? That’s something you know you will use on a regular basis. Repeatedly buying new ones is like paying rent on something you could own outright.

  43. “the footprint on it that my dad made when he was turning to walk back to his seat after giving me away”
    OMG, at that moment in my sister’s wedding, I had something to do, maybe adjust the train, and Dad didn’t do what he was supposed to, and I dropped my flower arrangement. You could hear it clearly in the video of their marriage, 33 years ago.

  44. Saac,

    Then again it’s $23.99 at Target I’d rather pay $23/99 a year then deal with a house crammed full of crap.

  45. “I asked if we could throw out a $1 wooden bowl with a Santa Claus face on it, and he whispered, ‘You are a bad person.'”

    This is awesome. I am SO your DH. ;-)

  46. Rhett, you’re storing it for at least a few months during the summer when you are using it, so why is it such a big deal to store it the rest of the year?

  47. I read a rule of thumb about deciding to keep or get rid of something you use infrequently is to ask if it would take more than ten minutes and $25 to replace it if and when you needed it. (You can fill in your own time and money units.) I’ve been trying to use that rule to make it easier to declutter. Old Halloween stuff, for instance, that I kept year after year “in case” I needed it I easily chucked using that rule.

  48. My DW is the pack rat; well, maybe hoarder is a better description and that really only describes cleaning supplies. Need Tide, Cascade, Scrubbing Bubbles, Windex, Dryer Sheets, Dish Soap? Come to my basement. And then there are the clothes she’ll never wear again. Her closet is full, but only about 1/3 of the things get used.

  49. Rhett, you only use it once a year?

    You seriously need to find an online group like Kate described. I use one exactly the way she laid out. The “perfectly good, somebody could use it” line may not work for keeping a broken mixer, but with all the stuff you pitch, you’d make a lot of people’s days.

  50. DH and the kids will be on the boat full time for the next 12-16 months and I will be commuting back and forth for work. A part of me wants to sell about 80% of our stuff (including the house) and just keep a one bedroom place rented in our school district with the bare minimum. Renting it out and packing up all of the stuff and storing it doesn’t really make us much money when you factor in my costs for staying in town when I am working. But I look around our house and feel overwhelmed by stuff. We barely use half the rooms and my kids prefer to share a room. I feel like we are potentially in a bubble and could make a tidy sum if we sold. Torn…

    Been reading minimalists and decluttering blogs but it is not translating into action.

  51. I would have thought you were a Yeti type of guy.

    Not if I’m going to need a new one every year.

  52. Umm, we may or may not have 4 yeti’s…boat trip preparation and all…..they all serve different purposes?

  53. CoC,for stuff that isn’t used regularly, the rule of thumb I like is one Rocky posted a while back “will I take it with me?” For her it was to the old folks home. For me it’s on a long-distance move and a fresh start. Looking around my living room and office space, I see very little that would pass that test.

    Fred, I’ve been glad to have my old clothes as I’m losing weight. Going through my closet last summer, I kept classic things that I can wear if/when my life changes, as long as they’re my current size or smaller.

  54. Rhett just made me realize that there is a real possibility that my DD will be driving in 7 years and that the car we buy this year could one day be hers. I’m clutching my pearls.

  55. Forget “Does this spark joy?”. I now think “What would Rhett do?”. I try hard to declutter. I do have a tendency to hang on to things for sentimental reasons, so it does take serious effort to keep clutter at a minimal. Unfortunately my oldest DD has an attachment to everything so that is part of the challenge. My youngest DD proactively asks to get rid of clothes and toys.

  56. Might be interesting to see a survey of totebaggers and home square footage and number of people living there. May see trends by region.

  57. How many square feet do you live in. Rhett?

    You live in a place with seasons….do you just keep a week’s clothes for each season? Just wondering how this works functionally…

  58. DH and the kids will be on the boat full time for the next 12-16 months and I will be commuting back and forth for work.

    Did you already mention this? I tend to zone out during the boat discussions. How old are the kids? What will you be doing about school?

  59. Mia – how do you want to treat basements? Around here, no matter how finished they are, those sqft do not count, but some places count the finished space. Us: 4300 sqft with, 2800 without. 4 people now; used to be 5.

    S&M – if DW loses whatever weight she needs to get back into those sizes, I’ll gladly spend that money!

  60. Might be interesting to see a survey of totebaggers and home square footage and number of people living there. May see trends by region.

    Sigh. After the basement reno, we now have 4,700 sq ft. for two people. Yes, it’s stupid. But on the other hand, I have a place to put my shoes.

  61. I think there’s a misunderstanding here. Rhett’s WIFE chucked the cooler, not Rhett.

    “DH and the kids will be on the boat full time for the next 12-16 months and I will be commuting back and forth for work.”

    Whoa. Wait a second. What?

  62. Counting the finished basement, about 4,000 sf. 5 people.

    It’s the smallest of my family.

  63. Yes – original plan was to both quit jobs for a year and rent out the house and sail full time but I got a great opportunity and they say they will work with the trip. It will be east coast (Florida to New England) in the summer and then Caribbean after hurricane season.

  64. We have about 4000 sq ft plus a finished basement. 5 people and a dog. I think it is a good size for us. We use all of the rooms on a regular basis but it feels uncluttered/spacious, plus with have a nice space for overnight guests (which we get a lot).

  65. Rhett’s WIFE chucked the cooler, not Rhett.
    Whaaaa-aa-a-a-a-a-a-t? That changes everything!!

    if DW loses whatever weight she needs to get back into those sizes, I’ll gladly spend that money!
    I don’t want new clothes exclusively. It’s like RMS’s shoes. These clothes are from another time of my life. I’ll never be that age again, but I do feel more like myself as the weight comes off, and it’s more fun to get back into “me” clothes than to try on new things.

    We live in ~1000 sf, 2 bedrooms, as I have most of my life since college, Exceptions: 500 sf at the very beginning and very end of my PhD, and ~750 sf in Germany (both Berlin and with DS)

  66. Rhett just made me realize that there is a real possibility that my DD will be driving in 7 years and that the car we buy this year could one day be hers. I’m clutching my pearls.

    But you can’t let her drive a 7 year old car because the newer ones will have so many more safety features by then.

  67. Rhett and Lemon – Since I wanted to compare the Equinox to my new RAV4, I took a look at the specs for 2018. The forward braking assist is only available on the top line Premier, and it isn’t even standard, you have to buy a package. Most of the other state of the art safety features are also only available on the the Premier, a few on the LT. The L and the LS are still much lighter that 2017 in vehicle weight and appear to come with the modern electronics, but otherwise pretty bare bones and most options are not available.

  68. We don’t have too much that needs to be tossed. The garage is one area where there are sticky things that don’t come unstuck easily. DH is in charge of cleaning up. He has stored everything neatly but things could definitely be tossed.
    We don’t have any heirlooms or things that are of great sentimental value. When we downsize I don’t want to take any of our existing furniture. We would have had the pieces for years and I want a change.

  69. Mia – that is awesome.

    Our house is 3750 sq feet for 5 people. I wish it were configured a bit differently (master on main or a smaller master with a fourth bedroom upstairs) but the square footage is perfect. We do not use all of our space (living room hardly gets used and the play room is not used very often anymore – they’d rather be outside in the creek or drag their toys to our family room). Dh would rather have a smaller house (around 3000 square feet).

  70. Mia – exciting!

    Family of 4 living in a 1.5 story bungalow. Main floor 1,100 sf, fully finished basement about 750 sf, attic 450 sf. We have a small single car garage that barely fits a Honda Civic. We keep yard, kid, and sport stuff in there.

    I’d love a mudroom and a place to store shoes, but our house is big enough for now. It might get tight for a few years but then the kids will be gone and it’ll be plenty big.

  71. Atlanta, how is the square footage perfect if you have rooms that are hardly used?

  72. Why do people not count basement space? That seems weird.

    Our house is 2400 sq ft for 4 people. It’s perfect for us, but gets tight if we have guests.

  73. Why do people not count basement space? That seems weird.

    If it’s unfinished with a 6′ ceiling height then that doesn’t count. If it’s a fully furnished walkout then obviously it does.

  74. Atlanta, how is the square footage perfect if you have rooms that are hardly used?
    The 3000 sf home I grew up in had rooms that were hardly used–a formal living room, which we entered mostly to practice piano, and I hung out by the stereo there as a teen, and the formal dining room, where we often ate Sunday dinner (midday). They were/are for special occasions and would not have held up to daily use.

  75. “Why do people not count basement space? That seems weird.”

    Sometimes I think it depends on local custom and real estate laws. It can also depend on whether it’s finished to code, like with proper secondary egress, outlets every X number of feet, etc.

    And sometimes “finished” looks like this:

    As opposed to

  76. DH came into our marriage 25 years ago with a pair of cut off camo cut offs that were cut just a *bit* too short. They had about a half inch of fringe. It was the too short part, not the fringe, that put me over the edge. I know that I got rid of them but to this day I can say with complete honesty that I don’t remember how I committed the crime. Some interesting memory blocking going on there.

  77. “Why do people not count basement space?”

    Around here, the county doesn’t include it the sq ft of the house even if it is finished space.

  78. “My daughter is a big contributor too. Yesterday, she brought home a bunch of old rusty gears. Some kid in her class gave them to her. Why did a kid in her class bring old rusty gears to school? I have no idea. Now we are the proud posessors of the gears, which she wants to clean with vinegar.”

    OMG this is my son — I would ask what your DD is doing in my son’s class, except he’d never part with the rusty gears. :-) If there is a job called “maker of art/quasi-useful things from found/recycled crap,” he is in like Flynn. Think, like, a miniature elevator made out of a binder clip, rubber band, and tape; or, last week, a crossbow made from pencils, rubber bands, paper, and paper clips (IIRC). He just likes to pick up trash and make something out of it. I figure his future holds one of two options: the next Elon Musk; or homeless, but with awesome make-do living quarters.

    Our house is @3500′ not counting the serial-killer basement, DH’s shop, or the new garage. We use everything all the time, except the guest room, and even that DD will probably take over as soon as we redo the bath. Although, TBH, two attic rooms are storage, so if we were better about having less stuff, we could do with less space, but I am a fan of the Rocky “this is why I like big houses” mentality. It is clearly more than I “need,” but I love it.

    My clutter frustration is paperPaperPAPER. Most other things I have figured out how to manage — library books go in a box, outgrown clothes go on the linen closet floor before being bundled into trash bags for Goodwill, school things go into the designated school dump zone and are not my problem, etc. But the constant deluge of paper just kills me. Night before last I spent two solid hours trying to find a receipt for the final flex reimbursement, because I suddenly realized the time was almost up (added frustration that this was on DH’s card, and they had blocked the card because he took 3 months to document a charge, so in the interim I just had to collect receipts instead of charging directly). I went through and tossed or filed just piles and piles of stuff, from school things to bank/CC/529/etc. statements (which I leave for DH because he says he wants to enter them but never does) to insurance stuff to car repairs to you name it. I really, really hate being the Keeper of All The Things. I am NOT good at it, and it does NOT spark joy (gag). But it’s better than forking over $800 to the government because no one else could be bothered to track down the damn flex receipts.

  79. Milo’s pictures are too nice for my basement. Mine is more like this:

  80. . I went through and tossed or filed just piles and piles of stuff, from school things to bank/CC/529/etc. statements

    They are all online. If he suddenly gets the urge someday to enter them he can print them out.

  81. And, yeah, that is Buffalo Bill in the background. There is a reason I removed the interior access stair. That place freaks the hell out of me.

  82. As for car receipts I have a thin binder with one of these:

    And the binder stays in the trunk under the flap for the spare tire.

  83. 2,050 square feet (spread out over three floors) for four people. The house has an awesome layout, so that’s plenty of space for us to feel comfortable.

    I’m coming to the end of a years-long effort to de-clutter and decorate our third floor (which is a finished attic space with high ceilings). The job has become much easier now that DS and DD are older, and there isn’t as much kid-crap around. The attic space is now my favorite part of the house — it’s sort of become my woman cave.

  84. If there is a job called “maker of art/quasi-useful things from found/recycled crap”

    This is my DD. I don’t know whether to keep or chuck out her projects. They look pretty good. Probably a mini Martha Stewart or a future in product design. There is a time limit though because new items make their appearance.

  85. I’m not very good keeping paper organized at all, so I don’t even save car receipts figuring that it will be so old and worn out when I sell it, there will be nothing to prove.

    For Goodwill donations, I take one iPhone picture of the contents of the car, and one iPhone picture of the thermal paper receipt, and email them to myself with the subject Taxes 2017 Goodwill. Then I make up some random estimate of its value the following year. Under $500, there’s no requirement to itemize or detail it.

    I don’t save anything for HSA expenditures. I’m trusting that we’re too middle class, with too few deductions, to be audited, and there was a recent WSJ article reporting that audits these days are about as rare as hen’s teeth.

  86. Those of you with basements, since this is in the context of clutter you need to report that square footage too! And attic if it has a floor and you can stand upright at some part. If it’s a crawlhole where you have to crawl on beams and if you slip you’ll put your foot through the ceiling tile, that doesn’t count.

    We have ~1750 for 5 people, no basement or attic, a 2 car carport (partially enclosed), and a yard.

  87. We’re at 1900 square feet in the house for the 6 going on 7 of us. Plus there is a 3 bay shop with an attic that we use for storage and a workout room, the barn and just under 10 acres.

  88. “Why do people not count basement space?”
    looking at the online tax records for our property it only shows the main and upper floors’ sq ft. However nice my basement is, that area is only recorded as “basement – full”.

  89. We’re in New England and basement space is typically not included. RE listings will note “with finished basement.”

    We’re at 2,000 s.f. for 4, which felt small when the kids were small, and now feels big.

    We kept it clutter free by building shelves in the attic, sized specifically to fit the storage bins we bought. Finished basement has three 6×2 wire storage shelves for ski/snowshoe gear, kids sports gear, and camping gear. DH is handy so he also finished off the basement which gave the kids a space to hang out with friends and a clean workout area for us. He built shelving under the stairs for bulk dry items with a bottom shelf specifically for winter boots. With those improvements we did not feel the need to buy bigger, and I’m glad now that we didn’t.

    Two car garage holds one car and lawnmower/snowblower/gardening equipment. DH also put decking above the garage with pull down stairs for storing rakes/show shovels off season. So I guess a RE listing for our house is going to say, “great use of space for storage.”

  90. I don’t even save car receipts figuring that it will be so old and worn out when I sell it, there will be nothing to prove.

    My husband just got a new CRV and traded in his old Odyssey. The good folks at the dealership told him they admired his work with duct tape. Then after we agreed on price, including $150 (not missing a zero) for the trade-in, and someone hopped in to move the Odyssey, they asked him, “How did you get it here?”

    He’s put no money into it for the last couple of years, on the theory that he’d be replacing it soon.

  91. Why are we supposed to be keeping car red receipts?

    1. If you want to sell it private party you can get more money if you list it as having “meticulously maintained w/ all books and records”.

    2. If you’re not getting all your work done at the dealership and there is a warranty claim or class action lawsuit settlement (Toyota V-6 engine oil sludging for example) you will need to prove that you performed the factory recommended service.

  92. “For the nicer stuff, I price it pretty low with the goal of having it gone by cob that day.”

    @Kate – I chuckled at the fact that you are no longer working in an office, but still used the term “COB”. I am sure that if you asked my DH, he would say that some kind of corporate speak as infiltrated our home. Via me, not him. He is an escapee of consulting & they don’t use the same buzzwords in government where he is now.

  93. Tee, hee. One of my sisters (retired, and one I like) has three houses (best described as a hilltop mansion, a lake compound and a Christmas tree farm). They are all in the same, relatively small, state!** (that indicates a footnote below).

    Although she has frequent quests one place or another, most of the time, she is just one person. All she does is clean. In fact, her partner of 20 years has his own modest home to which she makes him retreat every night they are not travelling between her places because he is too messy for her tastes.

    I couldn’t begin to calculate the combined square footage.

    On the other hand, Junior and I live in around 1,900, sq foot place, with no basement, garage, attac or anything. (It does have a nice yard within spitting distance of 1-95). We inhabit only two rooms– me. my office; Junior, his Electronics Center. We use one of our larger rooms completely for storage (I pay Junior $5 every time I need something there. He can climb, I can’t.) To make matters worse, since our move, I’ve never unpacked! The unpacked living room boxes are in the living room, etc. Everything is ready for The Villages. (The reason for this is when we moved, I was too efficient. I labeled every box precisely. First day here we had every single thing we needed, so why bother with the rest?)

    I really, really want to downsize and move to a small apartment in the sky on Miami Beach, but I don’t want to drive Junior a greater distance to and from school and neither he nor the primarily outdoor cat would permit it.

    ** The reason my sister’s landholdings are all in a single state is that she will not travel. She absolutely refuses to be body scanned or patted down by PSA. Folks visit her, despite the fact that her state is really only inhabitable in July and August.

  94. FWIW, we have 3 people in 1400 sq feet (condo) with no basement or storage unit. We have a garage, but it is just a garage spot – so it fits a sedan, a couple of bikes, and a small storage locker where we put our Xmas decorations and camping gear.

    Whether this is acceptable to us because we are not packrats or whether we are not packrats because we live in a small space, I don’t know. But I’ve never had packrat tendencies, and I have always despised clutter. Maybe if I lived in a huge house where I could just throw everything into spare rooms with closed doors or unfinished basements, I would get used to keeping more stuff “just in case”. But I don’t know.

  95. “Maybe if I lived in a huge house where I could just throw everything into spare rooms with closed doors or unfinished basements, I would get used to keeping more stuff “just in case”. But I don’t know.”

    That’s really my problem. I can throw stuff in up in the third floor (guest room and unfinished storage space) and I don’t see it unless I make a point to go up there.

    Rhett, what are those things in your 2:02 picture?

  96. Rhett, what are those things in your 2:02 picture?

    Little three ring hole punches that fit inside a binder .

  97. Does anyone know what actually happens to all the stuff donated to Goodwill or in our case Vietnam Veterans. How do they cull through all the stuff?

    It would help me to know if I should just throw stuff away or donate. For example, I may have a shoebox full of pencils and pens — markers, ballpoint, highlighters, no. 2 pencils in original box, etc.– probably most are very serviceable. But maybe one-third have dry ink. Should I throw the whole box out, or donate it? What do they do with stuff like that? Do they go through the trouble to sort out the usable stuff? It makes a difference because it’s easier for me to declutter if I just throw most stuff in the garbage.

  98. Thanks, Rhett. I actually just started using a binder to keep car receipts. Sometimes binders are easier to organize than files.

  99. Rhett – got it. We live dangerously and keep nothing.

    Is COB weird to use outside of an office?

  100. Our garage with shelving serves as our storage area. In our old house our basement served the same purpose. Our garage though is a space we pass through everyday and park our cars in so it is not a store and forget space like our basement became. It was not very nicely finished like Rhett’s first picture so no one used the space. My BIL finished his basement very nicely and it is a great play room/media room.

  101. The most important sections from the Slate article:

    Most Americans are thoroughly convinced there is another person in their direct vicinity who truly needs and wants our unwanted clothes. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Charities long ago passed the point of being able to sell all of our wearable unwanted clothes. According to John Paben, co-owner of used-clothing processer Mid- West Textile, “They never could.”

    There are thousands of secondhand textile processors in the United States today, mostly small family businesses, many of them several generations old. I visited Trans- Americas Trading Co., a third- generation textile recycler in Clifton, N.J., which employs 85 people and processes close to 17 million pounds of used clothing a year. Inside Trans-Americas, there is a wall of cubed-up clothing five bales tall and more than 20 bales long. “This is liter­ally several hundred thousand pounds of textile waste, and we bring in two trailer loads of this much every day,” Trans-Americas president Eric Stubin told me. The volume they process has gone up over the years alongside our consumption of clothing.

    Without textile recyclers, charities would be totally beleaguered and forced to throw away everything that couldn’t be sold. Charities might even have to turn us away. The only benefit to this doomsday scenario is that our clothes would pile up in our house or in landfills, finally forcing us to face down just how much clothing waste we cre­ate.

    Most of our donated clothing does not end up in vintage shops, as car-seat stuffing, or as an industrial wiping rag. It is sold over­seas. After the prized vintage is plucked out and the outcasts are sent to the fiber and wiping rag companies, the remaining clothing is sorted, shrink-wrapped, tied up, baled, and sold to used-clothing ven­dors around the world. The secondhand clothing industry has been export-oriented almost since the introduction of mass-produced gar­ments. And by one estimate, used clothing is now the United States’ number one export by volume, with the overwhelming majority sent to ports in sub-Saharan Africa. Tanzanians and Kenyans call used clothing mitumba, which means “bales,” as it comes off the cargo ships in the shrink-wrapped cubes like the ones I saw at Trans-Americas and Salvation Army. The bales are cut open in front of an eager clientele and buyers, who pick through it for higher-value finds.

    Once again, while many Americans might like to imagine that there is some poor, underdressed African who wants our worn and tattered duds, the African used clothing market is very particular and is demanding higher quality and more fashion-forward styles. Paben told me that access to the Internet and cellphones has made the con­tinent fiercely fashion-forward in recent years. “There’s been a change in what you can sell there,” he says, and the bales have to be much more carefully sorted based on style, brand, and condition. As incomes rise in Africa, tastes become more savvy, cheap Chinese imports of new clothes flood those countries, and our own high-quality clothing supply is depleted, it’s foreseeable that the African solution to our overconsumption may come to an end. What then?

  102. “Is COB weird to use outside of an office?”

    I don’t know – it sounds so corporate to me. What “business” are you “closing” in your house? I didn’t mean to make too much fun – it’s just corporate speak trickling into real life. I catch myself doing it sometimes. Last week, I told DH that we need to “align” on our dinner plans, and he gave me a massive eye roll. Next I will tell DS that he must pick up his socks by COB. :)

  103. My husband is a hoarder. He bleeds when I try to get rid of something. When his parents were moving, I would walk in the house and always find something “new” that my FIL left. My MIL was very upset that nobody wanted her 1972 Mercedes sedan. It was a pretty navy with white interior when new. My MIL banged the car around and some of the body work was not the best. My FIL decided it wasn’t worth the money to do a lot of the upkeep and maintenance required. My FIL dumped it in our driveway and signed over the title. My husband ran the numbers and he could buy that same model and year in really good condition for 1/3 what it would cost to repair and paint her car. When I came out one morning and smelled gas, my husband called the scrap yard and had it towed away. His mother never forgave him for getting rid of ‘her favorite car.”

    We have a massive amount of work to do to clean this house out before we can sell it and move.
    My husband is procrastinating but has a fit if I attempt to throw anything else. Insists I am throwing money out. I offered to go to a place where you rent a table and offer your crap for sale like the 20 tankards my FIL shoved in our house. No dice.

    We also have boxes of pictures with two to four copies of each, Nightmare!

  104. “Our garage with shelving serves as our storage area.” — Exactly. That’s why I listed the garage. Until we built ours, we had piles of sports-related gear sprinkled throughout the house (e.g., golf clubs in the dining room during golf season, because who wants to tote them to the 3rd floor between rounds?). Now we have *all* of that sort of crap in our garage — all the golf gear, the basketball gear, the baseball and softball gear, the giant bucket of balls, the skateboard and pads, all the bike helmets, plus the folding chairs that you take to all the kid outdoor events and miscellaneous hats and such. I cannot even begin to say how happy I am to have three 24’x10′ non-drywalled walls with open stud bays that I can fill with that sort of thing. :-) Freaking awesome.

  105. Hmmm, so if I cold clean out some more crap from the garage, we could use that for current, in-use sports gear rather than the laundry room. It’s absurd that it took your post for this to occur to me, but that’s how it is sometimes.

  106. “His mother never forgave him for getting rid of ‘her favorite car.”

    that’s hilarious.

  107. @Milo: turns out that golf bags fit perfectly between studs, and a short bungee with 15-cent hooks holds them in place just fine. I maybe spent $100 total on a variety of storage things from Amazon, and everything else has the bungee-and-hook configuration. It is sort of ridiculous how happy this has made me.

  108. Old Mom: When logic does not work, maybe crazy will. Just say that you had a dream that (insert illogical reason for clearing a room of clutter, perhaps involving the ghost of a dead relative). Then do it. If he asks why, grab his shirt, get a slightly crazed look in your eye, and say “I HAVE to do this. Don’t you see???”

    I’m not kidding.

  109. My basement isn’t counted by my Town, but it is finished and we use it for laundry and as a kids play space. We have 3700 square feet including the basement for 3 people. I’ve lived in 400-700 square feet, so this was a big change for me. The largest apartment I ever lived in on my own in NYC was a rent controlled apartment that was almost 1200 square feet. The apartments that my parents live in are larger, but they’re still apartments with very little storage. My father is lucky enough to get storage bins with his coop, but they made me take some boxes out when I got married and moved to a house with a lot more space.

    We try to declutter, but we have too much stuff. If I can make it through the bat mitzvah, I will finally have a summer without renovations or other major projects and I can focus on getting rid of more stuff.

  110. Mooshi, if you ever come to Portland, we should go out to celebrate my getting rid of the 1970’s left-handed golf clubs.

  111. We have about 3500 sq ft, for 4 1/2 people. And a dark scary basement. There is also about 1000 for an office and weight room/storage room/never quite figured out how best to use it./aspirational room. The amount of space feels about right. We have a kitchen/dining room/living room combination and another living room with the tv.

    We use our dining room every evening. I’ve never had enough space for a formal dining room or really understood the concept. I mean, you eat every day, so have one room for every day eating and another for special occasions? Why?

  112. Milo – I read a book about the clothing industry a few years ago called “Overdressed” that described the bales upon bales of used clothing at Goodwill that nobody wanted. Part of it is there is so much cheap clothing that doesn’t last more than a year or two (even my old standby J.Crew the quality really blows now). I don’t bother with Goodwill anymore and only donate to charities that come and pick up the clothes from my house (I have no illusions that abused women and children are wearing the clothes but they make it easy to donate). There is a clothing recycling bin at my daughter’s ES that I throw things into a lot.

  113. one room for every day eating and another for special occasions?

    Because one is special and one is everyday. Most people get dressed every day, but would you wear the same thing to a special occasion as you would to the grocery store? Do you eat & drink the same things on special occasions as every day? Probably not.

    There are other kinds of eating places people have in their homes–islands with bar stools, TV trays or a table in the room where the tv is, a picnic table outside, and maybe a cozy corner to drink coffee/tea in. Why limit yourself to one when you eat several times every day?

  114. I am going to call this weekend to get the two extra couches and two chairs that serve to pile up clothes picked up for donation. Will put the extra fridge on craigslist and clear out the half of the kids toys that haven’t been played with in a year.

  115. I boxed up a lot of stuff and sent it to ThredUp. Every once in a while I get an email telling me that some item or other has sold. From the things I didn’t send, I had a box of clothing for a middle school boy. When the cold shelter was open one night, I took over some requested item and was happy that there was a guy there with kids (elsewhere) to give the clothes to. Whether he actually has that many kids or wanted them for some other purpose, I don’t care. I figure when a guy in a homeless shelter (excuse me–cold shelter, he was very clear that he has a home, the heat was just turned off) wants used clothing, I figure it will go to some good use. I’ve also done the same thing with kid’s clothing that I’ve mentioned doing with food we don’t want–put it in the car and give it to a panhandler. There are several regulars I can take them to, if I don’t happen to see someone soon.

  116. Rhett, the weird thing is that even though I understand it perfectly well, I don’t feel it at all. The only second dining area I’ve ever set up is a table outside, on a porch if there is one. I don’t think a formal dining room would spark joy for me the way it does for my mom. I’ve been trying to understand her better.

  117. I keep thinking of how much space one would have to give up on a daily basis to have that extra space for special occasions. I guess, like Saac, the idea of a formal dining room doesn’t spark enough joy to make up for the other things I would have to give up.

  118. So, since Goodwill processes this stuff in some form or fashion I guess there’s some slight benefit to donating rather than trashing stuff like boxes of pencils, slightly worn t-shirts, old linens, etc. And of course there’s the tax deduction.

    “We also have boxes of pictures with two to four copies of each, Nightmare!”

    Yup, I’m almost done “organizing” them by date and we have at least 8 plastic bins of those.

  119. Any college acceptance news some of you would like to share? Happy, surprises, disappointments? I hope the kids are mostly pleased with results.

  120. We have about 2700 sf + a basement/garage. Half of the space is for the car and the other storage and laundry, maybe 200 sf? We are 2 and 1/2 people now, if I count DS who is in college as a half of a person. We use most of our rooms except the kids’ rooms, although sometimes DH goes in there to take a nap.

    We are constantly getting rid of stuff. We are now at the stage that DD has her closet filled with her memorabilia (since her apartment is too small), and we are keeping a few pieces of furniture hoping that she or DS (when he gets an apartment) will take.

    Luckily neither of us is a pack rat, and we seem to go in waves – or or the other is in the mood to clear out at any given time.

  121. I spent a couple of weeks going through photos to try to pare down what we had. Of course I had the “double copies” to deal with. It seemed like for every roll of film (24 pictures times 2) there were 2 or 3 good ones. I had the box with the extras/rejects in the basement ready to throw out and DH discovered it – brought it back upstairs and started to go through it. After I calmly, gently explained that I had done what needed to be done, he graciously brought it back downstairs.

  122. Psuedo, blueprints for that house included the rooms, and a family room. The basement was finished like Milo’s first picture + a drop ceiling, so we had a great playroom. Iow, I can’t think of any functions that didn’t have a home to make room for the formal areas.

  123. Milo- you’ll be interested to know that MiaMama’s boat is a sailing cat! I kept waiting for her to chime in on the multi-hull discussion.

  124. We have about 4,000 square feet for 3.5 of us, using ssk’s formula for college kids. Of course, he graduates in about 6 weeks so maybe I should say 3. Ours is a reverse 1 1/2 story and it was perfect for us – the boys were downstairs and had their own area that I didn’t have to look at every minute. Reverse 1 1/2 may be a Midwest euphemism for 1 story with a finished walkout basement, but it truly was built and finished to the same standard and at the same time as the rest of the house.

    How in the world I married a man who likes tchotchkes I’ll never know. As an example, we have A LOT of Snow Village pieces. Virtually every Christmas I’m threatening to skip Christmas the next year. We have a Christmas closet that we store only Halloween and Christmas stuff in. I have no idea how many storage totes are in there.

    I keep way too much stuff. I blame being poor as a child. You kept anything you may need again because that way you wouldn’t have to buy it. I am really trying to embrace CoC’s rule about $20/20 minutes or similar rule of thumb. I laughed out loud at Rhett’s comment that there are in fact whole stores of shoes should you need them. That feels like a much healthier outlook. I have a whole dining room table full of clothes I am purging and somehow my closet is still really full, even the third rod that’s way up high and takes a ladder to access.

  125. CoC,
    Concerning how random admissions is…..one of DD’s classmates got into Yale but was rejected by Duke. Another got into UVA but was rejected by W&M. Go figure.

  126. And the one who got into UVA, but not W&M did not take Calculus. Must be the reason. :)

  127. Now that we’re into the off-topic hours, it looks like the Amazon Echo has a new feature, which I assume must be launching tomorrow (think of the date):

  128. Rhett must be having a heart attack reading all these comments about clutter.

    But he’s been busted, outed as a keeper of coolers, he was.

  129. HM – that is adorable! It is nice to see a company have some fun with its products.

  130. DH will be picking up the Miata retractable hard top on Wednesday. Much like HM’s husband’s experience, after the salesman inspected his trade in, he came back and said, did you actually have any expectation of value? He is so happy about this cool little car. May he drive it in good health.

  131. That Miata looks great, and I bet it is fun to drive. I hope he enjoys driving it, and that there is finally some good weather in April to take it out for a drive without the top. I was wearing flip flops in Feb, but I am still wearing my winter coat even though March is ending. I wasn’t surprised when the weather guy said that March was the coldest month of this winter in NY.

  132. In my town a walkout finished basement counts as sq footage, which is good for resale. We have three floors of approx 650 sq ft each, plus a full stand up uninsulated attic with the same floor area (sturdy plywood), accessible by an actual flight of stairs from the spare bedroom (that does not count). 2 1/2 bathrooms. For 2 people it was a bit large, even with the piano taking up a lot of the basement family room. For three it is still ample, mostly because she has not spilled over into the two active living floors. The attic provides plenty of storage (no garage, of course). I have a dining room set in the open first floor area and a small kitchen table in a breakfast nook at the end of the galley kitchen. It seat two amply, three is cozy. We could eliminate the kitchen eating area – some people have a reading nook/sitting area there – we tried always eating in the dining room and went back to eating in the kitchen – it is just more comfortable for us.

  133. “I figure it you haven’t used something for several years, odds are you will never use it.”

    My experience is that as long as I keep it, I won’t have use for it. But if I get rid of it, it won’t be long before a use or need for it will surface.

  134. Lemon, Consumer Reports recommends never buying the first year for a new model or a newly redesigned model; it usually takes a year to work out all the bugs.

  135. “I do have a tendency to hang on to things for sentimental reasons, so it does take serious effort to keep clutter at a minimal.”

    I’ve mentioned before that one thing I’ve found that makes it easier to let go of things with some sentimental value is to take some photos of them first.

  136. Yesterday was a big day for a lot of DS’ friends and classmates (Ivy decision day).

    DS had classes straight through the day, so he didn’t hear about a lot of the decisions. One of his best friends was surprised by a Columbia acceptance; she wasn’t expecting it and was already very happy with another acceptance into a specialized program. Another was happy with Princeton after only having a couple of safeties until then.

    Of course, there were others who didn’t get into their reach schools.

  137. DS’ status hasn’t changed much– we’re still pretty much in the doughnut hole. It’s looking more like (almost) full pay in one of the major northeastern urban areas.

    He’s now considering whether to attend accepted student events; one school has even offered to pay for his transportation. But it’s a minimum or 3 days of school missed for any one of those events, and AP exams, chamber recital, and debate state tournament are all looming as well, so we’re concerned about overtaxing his bandwidth.

  138. “My clutter frustration is paperPaperPAPER.”

    That’s still a problem for me too, but it’s a lot better than it used to be, because I’ve gone paperless for as many of my accounts as I could.

  139. Ah I could throw out so much of DH’s and my mom’s stuff. Sadly I won’t because I’m not that mean. I want to throw out a lot in my house actually.

    We have 1440 sq ft with an unfinished basement for 5 people and 1 dog. It’s small but workable because the boys can share a room when DS2 reliably sleeps through the night. I’d like about 600 sq ft more – one more bedroom and bathroom and family room. We have a dining room that’s considered formal because of our set. because the room opens to the kitchen it could be casual too.

    Rhett- an antique dealer offered me $10k on the spot for my dining room set. Not sure it would sell for 7500 at auction, but the buy-it-now option would get me that.

  140. as long as I keep it, I won’t have use for it. But if I get rid of it, it won’t be long before a use or need for it will surface.
    Exactly!

    Finn, how much does he need the AP tests? If the schools he’s accepted to don’t give credit for AP classes, then what he’s already done (get the knowledge in class) is more important than the tests.

  141. SM, at DS’ school, the AP classes are, for the most part, the most challenging classes, so it’s unlikely he’s have gotten into into any HSS without having taken them.

    Also, at least some of the schools he’s considering will allow him to use AP results to exempt him from some core requirements, freeing him up to take some other classes, possibly facilitating a minor or second major.

  142. So he’s exempt but doesn’t get credit? Arg. But seriously, if he has conflicts created by the institutions that are saying he should take the tests, they should have an answer for it. Your son must be one of many in that quandary.

    The following points are similar to what was in the articles Milo posted. I am surprised by their source, a Cosmo ad.

    8. Shopping is not the answer. The success of the fashion industry is dependent on convincing you that you need to buy more stuff, but that’s just a stone-cold manipulation. You don’t actually need more stuff. You have enough stuff. If anything, you just need to change your relationship to the stuff you already have. For instance, research suggests that you will be more satisfied with your clothes if you only wear them for specific purposes — like having a work wardrobe and a weekend wardrobe, and never mixing them

    11. It’s really hard to love fashion and the environment at the same time. Between the dangerous chemicals used to treat and dye fabrics, the horrible working conditions of the laborers in countries where clothes are often manufactured, and the fossil fuels used to ship clothes around the world, the true cost of a garment is a whole lot more than the $15 you spent on it at some fast-fashion retailer. What’s more, every time you decide to throw an old piece of clothing away rather than donating or recycling it, you are adding unnecessarily to landfill waste.

    At the end of the day, you still have to get dressed and very few of us have the money to wear head-to-toe Stella McCartney, no matter how environmentally friendly and chic her clothes may be. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be smarter about how you shop. Don’t just shop because you’re bored. Shop because you need something. Buy less crap so you can afford to buy more expensive pieces that are made locally or out of organic materials. Take better care of your clothes so they will last longer. And when you are ready to get rid of stuff, don’t just toss it in the garbage can — donate or recycle it. Seriously, a quick Google search for “clothes recycling [insert your city here]” should lead you to a location near you where you can drop off your worn-out stuff after your next big closet purge.

  143. Finn, what is the goal for the admitted student events? Do you think that any of them will give him a basis for making his decision?

  144. What’s the difference between a “formal dining room” and a “dining room”? We have a dining room where we regularly eat, but I certainly would not call it formal. We do not have any place in the kitchen where we can eat. Occasionally we’ll eat in front of the tv, and in the summer we sometimes eat outside.

  145. Oh man, I popped over here just before seeking inspiration at the becomingminimalist blog and here you were, talking decluttering! I just need Rhett or Louise to come to my house and help me. I started the 40 bags in 40 days pseudo-lent thing, but only got to 2 bags, and the second one is still on the floor of my closet.

    I was raised to be a packrat by depression era parents. Downsizing my mom was a traumatic experience for all of us. She had 45 years worth of stuff in the house, and kept pulling out items that we didn’t remember ever seeing, and wanting us to value them as much as she did. I learned some things in those weeks, one being your adult kids don’t value stuff that wasn’t part of their childhood experience. We all wanted the weird donut shaped spoon mom used to scrape out the birthday cake batter, but no one wanted the “too nice to use” tablecloths we had never seen. And of course, mom couldn’t understand why no one wanted the perfectly good table linens, and why would anyone want that spoon? I also learned that fabrics that have been stored in a drawer for 50 years, wrapped in plastic, disintegrate within a month of being exposed to light and air. Everything has a lifespan. There are items in my home that I am literally waiting for my mother to die before I can get rid of them. And my mom is in assisted living 6 hours away, and will never be back in my home. Yet somehow, she would know I tossed them, and would shame me for it.

    DH’s week spots are books, tools, and t shirts. I have a problem with kid stuff and paper. And we have this pattern: when we evaluate the cluttered state of our closets and rooms I see books, tools, and t shirts, and he sees kid stuff and paper. Then we both wonder why we stay cluttered when the stuff we see is so easy to pitch. I understand this is a pretty common pattern. Rhett and Mrs. Rhett are #blessed that they found each other.

  146. My mom tosses everything! She and my dad left Cuba with their baby and the clothes on their backs and really hated how much her mother talked endlessly of the things they left behind. (Of course, she was young and had not accumulated much whereas my grandmother was 50 and had tons of treasures- items of real value by Rhett’s definition. We move frequently and also just donate everything before moving it. The irony is that we have tons of square footage. Our guests are amazed at all the guest rooms with empty closets!

  147. I think back before mass productions, there were things that increased in value over time, and my mom has that mindset – that her furniture, jewelry, hummels, etc. have been increasing in value since she purchased them. When mom forces a hummel on one of her adult kids, she thinks she is passing on something of real value, when in fact, it is worth $10 if it sells at all on ebay, and is really just fodder for the totebag skeet shooting outing.

  148. Mafalda, come visit me, and help me realize my dream of empty closets in the guest room! SC is lovely this time of year.

  149. FINN. JUST TELL US. We’ve been on this journey with you for literally years. Go anonymous and post a list of the schools if you must.

  150. Speaking of colleges, did anyone watch the UConn/Miss State semi final last night? So exciting, and just as much fun to watch as the men’s final four.

  151. HFN – look at the pictures of the various closets below. Aim to have your clothes and stuff looking visually like that. That means a ton of clothes, shoes, coats, toys will have to go.
    Harsh – but I will be the bad person and say that your kids “memorabilia” should be limited to at most two plastic bins. That’s what as adults they can and will take with them. As others have described kids will not be taking much more than that when they move out.

    http://m.easyclosets.com/m/browse-idea-gallery/closet/

  152. I have the same attitude as Malfada’s Mom. I had to leave home with just two suitcases. At that time the airlines allowed much bigger bags when you travelled international but even then there was a limit to how much you could stuff into a suitcase.

  153. Well, but…in 1984 I drove from California to North Carolina in a ’78 Toyota Corolla WITH A FRIEND, so only half the trunk and half the back seat of this small car was filled with my stuff. And I still have a massive amount of junk now.

  154. Finn – Im going to just go out on a limb here and give my opinion. If you decide you can afford it and your son got into H,Y,P,S or MIT, do it. Proximity to urban dwellers with a preference for leisure be damned. I assume Chicago is off the table for you because of neighborhood, especially if USC is also off the table. If his big non financial decision is between Harvey Mudd and Cornell, I would let him make a trip to see Ithaca. You don’t need to go along, you know, and he can let some junior shine at the debate tournament or whatever thing suffers. There might be some other Northeastern school that would make that cut over a good option with a NMSF scholarship but I am not coming up with it at the moment.

  155. Finn – I am rooting for your DS to go to Boston/Cambridge. I don’t know your list but Boston is such a fantastic urban area for college.

  156. Thanks, Louise, I’m getting on it, really I am. I had sort of a revelation this AM, as I was multitasking by reading this thread while also railing in my head about my boss, who refuses to make the changes necessary to solve the problems he complains about. I realized that is me with my “stuff.” Physician, heal thyself.

    Lauren, that was some finish! The Lady Huskies need to hang out with the men’s teams from Duke and Kansas tonight. From my comfy chair, and my vantage point of never having played a team sport in my life, I am constantly advising teams not to look past the team they are supposed to beat to think about their next match up. And they usually don’t listen to me. UConn was probably already preparing for their assumed match up with South Carolina, just like Duke was probably thinking ahead to their potential final with the other Carolina. I’m spending the day yelling in my head to the Gamecocks to stop reading all the local press about a NC/SC final and focus on the game at hand.

  157. Lauren – what a game! I was cheering for the upset but would’ve been happy if UCONN won. Geno seems like such a classy guy.

    HFN – you are probably pretty close to actually doing something. The hardest part is starting. Start with something less stressful whether it is clothes or kitchen stuff or bathroom stuff. If I’m struggling with what to do with something, I’ll take it out of the room and put it in a donation bag and put in the atttic. After a few weeks I’ll donate it, but it frees up the immediate concern of what if I need it? I’m also trying to use and display the stuff I love which gives me less guilt about getting rid of the stuff I don’t. Good luck!

    A Facebook group that I read for inspiration is “purposeful MomLife with Allie Casazza”. Lots of people posting pictures of progress.

  158. HFN, I wonder if UConn was prepared for any game that would be that close. I was surprised that she didn’t try to get some time off the clock so that UConn would be able to take the last shot. As soon as I saw how much time was left for Miss State to have the ball, I was thinking that UConn was doomed. They’re such an amazing team, but they didn’t have much (any??) experience with close/overtime games.

    Gonzaga is going to be tough so I hope they’re focused for tonight’s game.

  159. Finn – I agree with Meme and also RMS. Tell us the darn schools!

    I am sad I missed this post. I loooooooove decluttering and am stymied at many turns by DH’s stuff. We have 4 boxes (probably 9x13x5) of baseball cards in the basement. Also a smaller box labeled “Box O’ Rocks”. (DH was not amused when I put that label on!) Plus we have had deliveries of furniture and other items from both my parents and DH’s parents lately (they are all downsizing). It was stressful to get there, but *wonderful* when we were selling the other house and it looked picture-perfect every day. DH says he would like to go through the baseball cards, but doesn’t have time to. I don’t think he ever actually will, and then when we downsize I will finally be able to throw them out.

    We have bought probably 15 drawers from IKEA to store the kids’ stuff. This was in the fall. DH hasn’t put the drawer insides together yet so the toys are still all over the floor. I have threatened to hire someone to put them together. Maybe next time I will not be kidding.

    Our house is giant. About 6000 square feet in the main house and then probably 1100 in DH’s office building. The master bedroom and the furniture storage room are both 40’x20′.

  160. Mia – your sailing plans sound amazing! Can’t wait for updates.

    Finn – it sounds like your DS will have some great options. Congrats to him, and to you and your DW.

    I hate clutter. I thrift out closets, drawers, etc regularly. When we had our basement finished, we put in a *tiny* storage area near the furnace, because I didn’t want to get stuck with a huge closet/room for storing junk. We have maybe 10 small moving boxes’ worth of stuff in there, and even that drives me a little batty, so DH and I have decided to clear the entire thing out this spring. Seeing that space empty will bring me a ridiculous amount of joy. A few years ago, we had 1-800-GotJunk come to clear out almost everything in our garage–for weeks after, I would look in the garage and smile like a crazy person at all the empty space.

  161. Oh – and despite the giant rooms, we have only 1 full-length closet, and that is in #2’s room. And wholly inadequate linen storage space.

  162. “for weeks after, I would look in the garage and smile like a crazy person at all the empty space.”

    Whenever I clean out a closet I like to keep going back to gaze upon the clean space. It definitely makes me feel good. This discussion has inspired me to kick up the decluttering pace.

    Finn, Congratulations and we want to know more. I’m also curious about your son’s interest in an urban northeastern college location. How did he arrive at that decision?

  163. “really just fodder for the totebag skeet shooting outing.”

    Now that sounds like fun! I would happily add my mom’s figurines to the targets!

    Congrats to your son, Finn! You must be very proud!!

  164. And my mom is in assisted living 6 hours away, and will never be back in my home. Yet somehow, she would know I tossed them, and would shame me for it.

    Facebook helpfully reminded me that yesterday was the 4th anniversary of my mom’s death. I have only just now gotten to the point where I can throw some of her things out without panicking that I’ll get in trouble for it.

  165. “fodder for the totebag skeet shooting outing.”

    I’m not sure which is funnier, this or Rocky’s need to know.

  166. 1-800-GotJunk come to clear out almost everything in our garage–for weeks after, I would look in the garage and smile like a crazy person at all the empty space.

    A. I could not handle calling something like 1-800-GotJunk. There are several things that have gone missing over the years that I hope to find in those boxes in our garage and my parents’ storage (attic bigger than their 3-car garage)

    B. You aren’t the only ones who likes clean & empty. I once got so sick of my kid not cleaning his room that I had someone come help me pack the toys that were scattered around his room into several large totes–the biggest ones. I thought it would be a good lesson that he couldn’t have his stuff if he didn’t keep it correctly. Most of it we had schlepped back across the Atlantic, and some had made the round trip, because I thought having the same stuff around him would make other transitions easier. Wrong, so wrong. When he walked into the room, I could see his shock in his posture. He walked across the floor, zigzagging back & forth, then turned around. He was *grinning*, said “my room! It’s all clean”.

  167. DH & DS are really into April Fools Day. Not sure why as DS is not into any other holidays really. But they are having fun with it. DS brought me coffee in bed, but he put cinnamon in it. He laughed hysterically at that one as it was his own idea. It was cute. DH super glued quarters to the sidewalk outside & made DS go to Starbucks with him where he would see them. There have been lots of fake spiders & reptiles around. I’m not sure what else they may have cooked up.

  168. “’really just fodder for the totebag skeet shooting outing.’

    Now that sounds like fun! I would happily add my mom’s figurines to the targets!”

    This is #1 on my MegaMillions list. When I win, I’ll be sure to put out the call for donations. 😉😄

  169. My daughter taped a paper fish to my back three separate times this morning, all before leaving for 8 am chorus. I guess it’s good that she’s learned something in French class!

  170. I really liked this one too. It’s the kids’ reactions you hear in the background that really sell it.

  171. “something heavy that brings such complicated feelings. ”

    Like wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve heard the word, “heavy,” used like that.

  172. RMS’ desk makes me think of Risley’s under desk bike taken to the next level.

  173. “what is the goal for the admitted student events? Do you think that any of them will give him a basis for making his decision?”

    I’m pretty sure one goal for the schools is to convince admitted students to accept.

    But more broadly, I think it gives the kids opportunities to get a better picture of what it will really be like to attend school there. They typically get to sleep in a dorm, eat in school cafeterias, and attend classes.

    So yes, they could well provide some basis for decision making. If it weren’t for the money and time involved, we’d be inclined to send him to some.

    Another problem, however, is that two of his top choices have scheduled their events for the same weekend.

  174. Accepted student events are definitely sales jobs. Roll out the red carpet all the way!

    Finn – life is full of decisions. He’s not going to go to both of those schools; maybe the calendar will be a necessary forcing function.

  175. Meme congrats to your DH. I traded in my hard top Miata today, and am mildly broken-hearted. I hope he gets joy from it. I think it’s better than therapy. We are doing a car shuffle, and got DS a Corolla. I am ridiculously delighted with my price given all the safety features it has.

    We are in 3200 sq ft with 4 people. It is a fine amount of space now that we rarely have guests. We gave up our guest room in our last move, so when we do have guests one of the kids sleeps on the couch in the media room. It at least has a door, which is something. Over the next couple of years, we will drop down to just two of us here, so it will begin to feel like too much space.

  176. Louise – I read that article this weekend, and it was intriguing, but I don’t know that I would want to do it while still working. They seem pretty happy, but I got an undercurrent of dissatisfaction for some reason from the couple – not sure why.

  177. I was inspired to spend some (but not enough!) time decluttering this weekend. Still I struggle with keeping stuff that those of you with more minimalist tendencies would just throw out. I decided to keep the small agenda notebooks going back many years since they are like streamlined diaries that tell the story of my life. I had forgotten how busy I used to be! Some other stuff I found easier to put in the trash bag.

  178. Friday, I didn’t have much time to follow this post as I was pushing the clock to get out to a scouting sailing weekend (that weather prevented from much sailing occuring). However, I was in a slightly different role and, thread related, had time to sort and organize some of the equipment and supplies. I tossed of some stuff, put more “like things together”, and consolidate other things resulting in roughly 2 copy paper size totes no longer being stored at camp! While it is much better to store the stuff at the camp than haul it 70 miles each way every time, we still have to haul it about 1/2 a mile from the on-site storage shed to where we use it.

    When I cleaned out my parents house, I took upteen loads to the dumpster at their retirement community, 7 minivan loads to Goodwill (or similar), sold and/or gave away several pieces of furniture, and had Salvation Army pick up the last load that included furniture the buyer wouldn’t take or we didn’t want. A lot of what I brought home were boxes where decision fatigue set in.

    However, after being on vacation over spring break, I realized how much all of it is getting to me and have had the motivation made some more progress

  179. ssk – I also got that from the article, mostly from the implication that they are early 40s and have no savings whatsoever.

  180. A parenting dilemma this weekend. Younger DS was invited to the neighborhood pool with a friend. Neighborhood pool has an attached, outdoor casual restaurant that services burgers, sandwiches, and has a bar. When I got there to drop DS off, the other mom was drunk. I now believe she has a serious drinking problem, but yesterday is what confirmed it in my mind.

    I could not decide whether to leave him or not. Reasons for yes: he’s a strong swimmer, there was a lifeguard, there were a lot of other families there, he’s not that far from the age where he’s allowed to be there without a parent. We live walking distance from the pool and he could have come home if needed.

    Reasons for no: he’s still a young kid, the other mom was drunk (I’m still pissed about this), accidents happen.

    What would you have done?

  181. Lark – assuming he is at least 10-12, I would have left him, particularly because he is a strong swimmer. But man, that’s tough. Especially for carpooling/things at their house.

  182. Lark- that’s a tough one. I don’t think I would leave my 9 year old in that situation, but in a couple years – maybe. I think I’d have to have a talk with DS about his friend’s parents and what to do in certain situations though. Maybe not on the spot at the pool, but afterwards.

  183. Is the drunk mom:

    a) Better than no parent at all, because at least there’s someone there to half-supervise?
    b) Effectively the same as no parent at all?
    c) Worse than no parent at all, because she lends a false sense of security, sets a bad example, and could potentially drive them somewhere while intoxicated?

  184. @ Milo: option B.

    I ended up leaving him for 2 hours and fretted the entire time. At that point I knew he’d start to get tired, and I went back and got him. DH was unfortunately working and I couldn’t talk it through with him.

    He is 9. This is a really tough situation, because the other kid is his best friend (and truly a great kid, it is a friendship I would otherwise encourage).

  185. Lark, I would have left him. If there was not a lifeguard, I’m not sure what I would have done.

  186. Poor son’s friend, Lark. I think this situation is more common than one would think. I know quite a few moms who drink far more than what I think is appropriate when supervising kids (and I am no teetotaler/clutcher of pearls re: alcohol). Because of this, I always try to drive carpool.

  187. I like the way Milo laid it out. I think B is also probably true, and I don’t think it’s terrible to leave a 9 year old without supervision at a public pool (with non-supervising adults, walking to home, lifeguard on duty).

    Your kid is your primary responsibility; however, try not to write off the friendship – it’s probably pretty rough for the kid with the alcoholic mother.

  188. @Lark – I feel sorry for your son’s friend. It’s not his fault, and who knows what happens when he is home alone with his parents. He’s lucky to have your son & your family in his life too.

    FWIW, my 9 year old is not a super strong swimmer, which is part of my own hesitation. I would also worry that Milo’s B would turn into C, but it would be a very tough decision to make on the fly.

  189. Lark, it depends on the situation. If the kids were going to be in the water most of the time & “mom” just a location on the pool deck somewhere to drop off towels and pick up snack money, and if there are good guards at the pool, I would’ve left him. If it was likely that they were going to have lots of interaction with her, I would’ve stayed, or raced home to get my suit. Either way, you’ve got great material for conversations with your kids about drinking. Has he seen someone drunk before? And I agree with Ada very much. It might take a while (years) til you hear big gratitude, but reach out to that other child to come hang with your family more often, even if that means meal or homework times. Maybe you can get other moms to share carpool rides for him without having the mom take a turn.

  190. “Still I struggle with keeping stuff that those of you with more minimalist tendencies would just throw out.”

    I suggest not struggling so much; if you’re that conflicted, then just keep it and move on to other stuff.

    IMO, sorting through stuff is best as an iterative process, i.e., go through stuff once, toss the obvious stuff, let some time pass (e.g., while you sort through other stuff), lather, rinse, repeat. IME, piles of stuff do get smaller after each pass.

    But this is also why I think going through parents’ things is often tough, because you don’t have the luxury of the time to iterate.

  191. DS didn’t even see her the entire time they were at the pool. I am uncertain whether or how to talk to him about her drinking. To my knowledge he’s never seen anyone drunk.

    However, DH and I have decided we will step up our invitations to the friend to come hang out at our house.

    In our kids not-that-huge social circle, this is the 4th mom that I believe has a serious drinking problem.

  192. Lark, did you have other commitments during the time your son was at the pool?

    If not, I might’ve looked for some pretense to hang around and further assess the situation. Perhaps try to engage the other mom in conversation (and perhaps even keep her from drinking while you’re talking), or do some stuff you’d want/ need to do anyway on your phone (e.g., read this blog).

    9 is on the young side to leave alone, although with the lifeguard and with his friend as a buddy (make sure they both understand the buddy system) it’s probably OK. When I was about 10 or 11, neighborhood kids and I would walk over to the county pool (which had lifeguards on duty) unsupervised.

  193. In our kids not-that-huge social circle, this is the 4th mom that I believe has a serious drinking problem.

    This surprises me. I have never been drunk in front of my kids, nor drunk when supervising others’ kids. I occasionally drink during the day (lunch with a cocktail, clearly not a day I’m working). However, I would say I am 90th%ile+ for alcohol consumption in my neighborhood. Perhaps I run around with the wrong crowd, there are huge regional differences, or I’m in denial….

  194. Lark, did you have other commitments during the time your son was at the pool?

    Yes. That was part of my dilemma. Had I not, it would have been easy to go home, change, and come back and supervise myself.

    I have never been drunk in front of my kids, nor drunk when supervising others’ kids.
    Although I have a glass of wine or G&T almost every night, I’ve actually not been drunk at all since having kids. There are just too many times that someone starts randomly throwing up, or needs stitches, or the babysitter calls and tells me to come home because they’re trying to kill each other. And I have never viewed being drunk as particularly enjoyable, so this is not a hardship for me.

    But I am really, really pissed this woman thought it was okay when she was supervising my kid.

  195. Lark, I absolutely agree on being let down by that mom. I suppose it’s better they were in a public area with clearly labeled authority figures, and not in her house. Four friends with drinking problems sounds like a lot to me too! If your son hasn’t seen anyone drunk yet, he may soon. More likely is that one of his friends will say something about a common and distressing thing in his life and your son will need to respond somehow. Good luck to you–drunk friend’s parents was not something most of us thought we’d ever worry about when becoming parents.

  196. IMO, sorting through stuff is best as an iterative process, i.e., go through stuff once, toss the obvious stuff, let some time pass (e.g., while you sort through other stuff), lather, rinse, repeat. IME, piles of stuff do get smaller after each pass.

    That seems really inefficient to me. You should make one pass with things. When you sort an item for the first time, you decide if you are going to keep it or not, and if you are going to keep it, you put it away. Otherwise you are just spending time sorting the same stuff over and over.

  197. DD, perhaps that works better for you.

    I find it more efficient to not agonize over stuff. I can rather quickly go through a pile of stuff and just separate out the obvious stuff to throw out if I don’t spend time thinking about whether to throw something out; if there’s any doubt, I just keep it and move on.

    This way, in the same amount of time I can go through a lot more stuff than if I’m trying to do it in one pass. The added benefit of going through more stuff is that I often find stuff that I can use, or that I’d been missing, saving me from buying more stuff that would cause further clutter.

    I also find in more psychologically satisfying to go through a bunch of stuff, albeit as one pass of many, than to take a single, final pass on a much smaller bunch of stuff. Part of it is that a bigger area looks neater. YMMV.

  198. I guess I don’t agonize over stuff so I can still go through a large amount of stuff. I think I do the same thing you do, except I put away the stuff to keep instead of putting into a pile to make another pass later.

  199. I do something between your methods–bins for each area where things need to be put away. That way I don’t have to run around to the different rooms. I can stay put, finish sorting, and then have containers I can carry around while I put things away. Sometimes they morph during the sort as I have more of fewer things for an area than I expected.

  200. DD, a lot of that stuff is in boxes or bins, so when I’m done going through it I just put the slightly lighter box/bin back, where it can sit until the next pass, or when I need something from it.

  201. Finn, in other words, you put it away. We’re not doing anything different except that I’m not going to make another pass (maybe years down the road) because I’ve already decided to keep it.

  202. Lark – I would have left him with the lifeguard if he is nearly old enough to be at the pool without a parent and provided he is a strong swimmer. But I would definitely step up the invites to your house for that kid and supervise pool visits going forward.

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