I am persevering in my Lenten/spring cleaning. I might be behind already, but I am not giving up! (That would be too easy!) The work isn’t going anywhere, and neither am I. It might not all get down in the amount of time I have allotted, but no matter what I get done, my home will be more clean and organized by Easter—God willing.

On that note, I have some questions for you, dear friends. Perhaps you have been in this predicament yourselves and can offer some guidance or even a bit of encouragement.
How do you determine what to do with all the stuff? As a family of seven, I understand that we are naturally going to have more stuff than a family of three. But how do I—how do you—keep it under control? At what point do you toss or donate items? For how long do you save outgrown toys for a possible new baby … or don’t you?
Even though I don’t think we have a ridiculously cluttered home, I personally would like it to be a bit less cluttered. I think this would benefit everyone in the long run. Less stuff = less clean up = more time for other, more special things that tend to fall second or third to cleaning up!
Yesterday, Regan beautifully talked about leaving a legacy for our children. I don’t want mine to be, “Mom was always cleaning,” even though I do want them to appreciate the importance of cleanliness and order, and that there are seasons where deeper cleaning is necessary. Does that make sense? Finding the balance …
Anyway … I also don’t want to act hastily and get rid of something that will serve our family in the future. (I don’t want to have to keep buying items when I could have saved them instead.)
So, do you have a good system? What works for you? How many toys do your kids have? Is it too much, or is it a good amount? How do they keep their treasures picked up? How do you know when it’s becoming too much? And what do you do about it?
These questions could be applied to clothes, too (i.e., saving certain sizes of clothes when all your kids have outgrown them … How much do you save, if at all?)
Thank you for your understanding, for any tips you may have or even for a simple prayer for peace of mind! I appreciate it all! God bless you!
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6 thoughts on “Stuff!

  1. Sarah … this has been a struggle for me, too. We went through a lot before moving, but I still feel that we have too much (mainly toys & games). I havent' figured it out yet. I do save baby & toddler toys – afterall, I do hope to pass them on or keep some of the best for grandchildren. I see a large garage sale in my future to pare down the rest.

    Clothes I do save, although at about age 10/11 the boy clothes really aren't worth saving anymore! The pants are usally worn through on the knees and t-shirts are used to the point of rags. I did start to go through my daughters clothes after she was followed by two brothers. Just didn't make sense to keep clothes that could be used by someone else while they were 'in style.' I did keep favorite outfits, however.

  2. I have only the three children, and I know now that we are done so that solves some of these dilemmas.

    If it were me in this situation, I would keep the best and discard the rest. I also find that I know more now after three kids than I did when I just had one. For example, for my first baby, I bought tiny bib overalls and two piece outfits. After three children, though, I know that I will NEVER put them in bibs before the age of two and that I really prefer one piece sleepers until they are about nine months old or so. If we were going to have more children, I would really only be keeping the clothes I know will get the most use and the rest would find other homes.

    Even with my older son, I am only storing clothes that are in good condition and I know will be worn by his younger brother.

    As to toys, we have a small play area in the basement where I keep good quality toys that are difficult to store, such as the big Tonka trucks, the toy toolbench, and the Fisher Price parking garage (circa 1976). Other things like Tinker Toys, wooden Blocks, play cloth, small plastic dinosaurs/animals, etc, that can get stored in baskets and plastic containers on shelves can be upstairs in bedrooms.

    My theory is that we have “enough” when we can keep things clean and organized. If it gets too hard to take care of our things then we have too much. Hope this helps!

  3. Oh Sarah,
    You are singing my song! We’re only a family of 5 and I still think there’s waaaaayyy too much stuff.

    I’m going through the girls’ clothes and giving a lot away, even though #3 could wear most of them. I just don’t want to keep more than I can store. I’ll pick and choose the outifts that are in great shape and I really love, and the rest GOES.

    With toys, if it hasn’t been played with in the last six months, it’s probably time to go, unless I think #3 would LOVE it.
    Books, I keep unless they are falling apart.

    I’m with you… it’s time to declutter and purge. Less is definitely more.

    I really love visiting you!
    Bless your day!!

  4. oh sarah, just know that my legacy will be-mama was a pack rat!!! i am good at all the artsy-crafty stuff, homemade food etc. but i have TOO much junk, too many hobbies and there are not enough hours in the day to make it all right and organized. i have never quite found the perfect system! but good luck on that…….
    have a blessed day.

  5. Goodness…I think you are bringing up one of the greatest challenges of large families and running a home!! I prefer to live as simple of a life an necessary, and frankly, lots of ‘stuff’ around not only clutters our home, but SEEING it clutters my mind! I can’t think straight in a mess. But….not having so much stuff aorund and keeping things in order is a DAILY challenge!

    I don’t know that I have any great tips, per sey. I know that anything we KNOW we are not going to need, or use again, goes. Either given to the salvation army, sold at a tag sale, or tossed if it is not an item that can be appreciated by anyone.

    Our kids have minimal toys, to be honest. They put most of their time and energy into creations anyway: crafts, coloring, writing stories lately, reading, etc. What age appropriate toys they do have, are to be kept in the closet we created for them under the stairs to the 2nd floor. It has a bnin bucket system, games are piled on the fllor against the wall, etc. As organzied as it should be, it is often a WRECK and 1/2. Once in awhile they pull everything out and re-organize, which lasts but a few days. But even when it is way out of order, it just makes it harder for them to find their own things. It’s never poses a problem, or a sight for sore eyes, for ME. : )

    Now, when they outgrow toys, we store them away until the next tag sale. And guess husband has always been one to save the box/packaging for most toys. As messy as the kids can be, they are not destructive, so when they have outgrown certian toys, they are still in VERY good shape. So we sell them at a tag sale we have now and then, and the toys sell for more money, because the original packaging makes them seem newer or more valubale to tag salers. ; ) Also…so many toys have pieces and parts…and without packaging, how can you store them and keep them together. So….that has been helpful habit for us. My oldest loves to have a charity lemonade stand at tag sales too. Last time she raised quite a bit of money for Alex’s lemonade.

    Clothes….UGH! I really despise going through clothes all of hte time…what fits still….what fits yet…what needs to go….what’s in season or not anymore….bins and bins…my head spins. And the SHOES….Lord have mercy. The BINS are my only tip….we tape a tag at the end with the season and sizes in that bin.
    All in all, these are the little prices we pay for the blessing of our families. So I’ll carry this cross, and try to remember not to grumble. But…I think you have lots of company here. Organization is key….but even that can be a good part time job.

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