Thanks, Lori, for the posts about decluttering. They motivate me. I am just so curious about all your decluttering. Did you have that much stuff or do you just not have anything left?
Somehow, I really had that much stuff. But if I had a bigger house, it wouldn't seem as much as it seems in my 2100 square feet, and it would seem like more in our former 1200 square feet. I seek to declutter to the point that the house can 1.) Look "homey," which to me is filled with only things we love and/or use; 2.) Be easy to keep neat. With four little kids (ages 3-11), it is easiest for me to keep a house neat if there is a lot of empty floor space, and the children enjoy empty floor space for playing, so we don't have many stands or a coffee table or knickknacks, etc., and only recently I bought an indoor plant, since the children are now old enough to not knock it over/eat the dirt. The truth is, whether we have more room or not, we really don't need most of what is around us.
Did you clear out a lot of toys? Were your children upset when you began?
My children cannot usually be with me when I declutter their toys. They want to keep even the broken parts! If they cannot keep their rooms neat, I decide that they have too many toys. Everything that is loose on the floor or out of place, we put into Rubbermaid totes and put them in the garage . I tell the children that they cannot have these toys for a while, since they didn't choose to take care of them. They know that once it's in the garage, it's out of sight for quite a while. Later, usually on my own, I go through that tote, and throw away most of the stuff, give away anything I haven't seen the kids enjoy, and keep the few left.
My goal - I"m almost there - is to have 2 decluttered, sorted, organized totes waiting in the garage or attic. Every month, we'll take all of the toys in their rooms, declutter, sort and organize them into a tote, and pull a tote out of storage to enjoy. This keeps the toys exciting and appreciated, I would imagine. Right now, I have a few toy totes to declutter in the garage, so I'm not at this level of organization yet.
I hardly ever know of anyone that is really needy. Even my children would be happy to give if we knew someone needy. I have been piling things in the garage for a yard sale. I haven't had one for years for the reasons you mentioned. I guess I thought I had more stuff this time that would equal more money.
It is hard to know who needs something.
I've found that many on our local Freecycle list are needy, so I offer larger items on that list, like a car seat or stroller. I don't want someone coming to our house to pick up every tiny outfit, though, or we'd never get schooling done.
If I have a friend with several children, I'll offer extra clothes to her, since your hand-me-downs can usually only hold up well through two children, it seems.
Our Waterfront Rescue Mission offers free pick-up service. I have called and said, "I have 20 boxes to give away," and arranged a pick up time within 3-4 days, even before I had the boxes ready. That motivates me to get those boxes ready and on the front porch, waiting for the Mission truck to arrive.
Here's another idea: Several years ago, we started having a garage sale early on a Saturday morning but within about an hour, it seemed a shame that people were leaving empty handed or buying just one or two things, and I could see that all that clutter was going to stay at my house. Besides, I wasn't exactly raking in the money.
After okaying the idea with Tim, I told the kids, who had a toy table of their own and hoped to make money, that I was changing it to a Free Sale but they could take their things out if they liked. They thought and thought about that, and finally decided to leave the items out for free. Then they watched and waited for someone to come. We prayed that God would send whoever needed the items. Soon after, a family of 7 or 8 got out of a very crowded old car. They spoke Spanish to each other and only one spoke broken English. She said, "Free?" and motioned around. "Nothing?" I said, "Yes, it's all free." She excitedly told the rest of her family. Two of our children stood by their toy table and watched their children look at the toys. Britty handed a little girl her Barbie, and Brenden handed a boy his robot toy. The adults picked up some cooking items and clothing.
Later, a very young couple came - also in a beat up car, with the gal quite pregnant - and they were so very delighted when I loaded them up with baby gear and baby girl clothes. They kept saying, "God bless you," and nearly brought me to tears right there on the lawn!
A lady picked up blankets for a family she knew who needed practical things like that.
Throughout the day, people came and I was very impressed that nobody was greedy in the slightest way. They only took what they or someone they knew could use.
At the end of the day, we moved what was left to the curb and put a "Free" sign on it. By morning, we were left with only a few scattered things to clean up.
Giving that day was far greater a blessing to our family than the money would have been. Our two oldest children remember that day well, even though it was several years ago and they were young then (about 6 and 8) . It was a great lesson for them, to realize that there are people we can bless with our things.