Stuff Management

Kendra-


Thank you for a simple way to keep the paper under control. How do you do toys and clothes? If you have already posted on this, I've forgotten and you can just direct me to that post :)

All right, you stuff-tossers, how do you do it? I have five children; the oldest is 5. We are very much a thrift-store family, so their toys/clothes are either 1) something we paid very little for or 2) a gift from someone else. They have SO MANY clothes but I think, "the next one can wear it, too, etc." but it's just ridiculous.

The problem with the tossing stuff is ... ME! I know it must be a form of materialism rearing its ugly head, but I'll go through to "purge" and end up saying, "But this was from his grandmother ... but this was such a deal ..." Do you just bite the bullet and do it?

Their room is kept clean, but I know they have an overabundance of things. I usually end up rotating toys (putting some in boxes and then putting the boxes out of sight). But I realize I'm not helping their understanding of materialism any by justifying a thrift store purchase or holding on to something that is not earning its real estate space on our shelves!

What is your "criteria," if you have any? Do you have a set number of outfits that you keep, or just what will fit in a set number of boxes, or just what you know you couldn't buy easily next time, or...

Any Scripture you remind yourself of while you're working?

Sorry so long. Thank you!


Rachel



Dear Rachel-

I am certainly no expert in this, but because I hate visual clutter, I find it feels really, really good to purge our home of stuff. Kind of like that clear feeling after a really good nose blow

The easiest way for me to address your questions is to go point by point:

1. How do you do toys and clothes?

First of all, we don't have a lot of toys. We have tried to keep things to a manageable and realistic amount, and what we do have is stored as neatly as possible. Legos seem to breed on their own, but still we keep them in boxes in the boys' room, which brings me to the next management technique we have implemented: very, very few toys are stored in kids' black holes bedrooms. The boys have Legos in their room and the girls have dolls in theirs, but those are the only toys they have in their bedrooms. The rest are stored either in Rubbermaid containers in the schoolroom or in larger Rubbermaid containers in the garage. Large sets such as Brio trains and Hot Wheels are kept on shelves in the garage because our boys have outgrown them and the girls seldom want to play with them. We've kept them because we often have young visitors and now we have another little guy coming up in the ranks who will doubtless enjoy them in a few short years. And Brios are an investment.

Clothes are the bain of my existance. A necessary evil. Someone is always growing out of something and the seasons now change faster than I can keep up. I have had to be judicious; when we learned that this baby (our seventh) was a boy, I decided that it was time to pass along all of the outgrown girl clothes. I've kept a very few things I loved in case there's another little girl to join our family, but the rest has been passed on to a little friend.

I also pass along anything the nine-year-old boy is done with because I'll be darned if I'm going to keep his stuff for the next nine years for the baby to grow into. How silly when my best friend has six sons and she can be using his stuff. And the baby's outgrown clothing is going back to her to be stored for either her next boy or ours, or for someone else who can use them.

So, what is kept are those things that the older boys pass down to the immediate boy beneath them and same with the girls. I have large Rubbermaid containers clearly marked by size and stored in the linen closet (it's large).

2. The problem with the tossing stuff is ... ME! I know it must be a form of materialism rearing its ugly head, but I'll go through to "purge" and end up saying, "But this was from his grandmother ... but this was such a deal ..." Do you just bite the bullet and do it?

Oh, I so get this. My mother was raised by a hardworking father who didn't make an overabundance of money. Things were treasured and waste was anathema. Because of her upbringing, my mom passed along a sensibility to us even though my upbringing was quite privileged. I learned a combination of a disdain for wastefulness and the reality that having stuff (and we had plenty) wasn't ever a worthwhile goal in and of itself. It can be difficult for me to want to toss something that was paid for with good money or given as a gift.

I try to communicate this to grandparents, and we often suggest they give the children experiences over material goods. That helps, but there are still items cluttering their closet shelves that I hope the children will eventually realize are just clutter, even if they are from their grandparents. But maybe not, and that's ok.

I think you have hit the heart of it- not wanting to get rid of unused items can be a sort of materialism that we don't even realize we're struggling with. Ask God to give you the wisdom to know what you should and should not keep. I've learned that He's very practical that way and will always give me direction and peace.

3. But I realize I'm not helping their understanding of materialism any by justifying a thrift store purchase or holding on to something that is not earning its real estate space on our shelves!

True.

4. What is your "criteria," if you have any? Do you have a set number of outfits that you keep, or just what will fit in a set number of boxes, or just what you know you couldn't buy easily next time, or...

Like you, I shop secondhand and off-season sales for our kids' clothing. I make lists of what they have for each season coming up so that I don't over-purchase. There was one year when our oldest daughter had eight church dresses because I didn't realize I'd bought so many off ebay They were each such good deals that I just kept buying. Ugh. Now I make sure I know what we have so that I only buy what they need. Anything that needs to be replaced mid-year (woo, those teenage boys can grow out of pants overnight, I tell ya) can be purchased inexpensively at Target or Kohls. Just bought new undies and socks for the girls...

5. Any Scripture you remind yourself of while you're working?

Not really, but I think it's a good idea to keep fleshing out the idea you had about this being materialism at it's root.

"He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; Nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity. " Ecclesiastes 5:10

~Kendra