When I first had kids, it was hard to get rid of things. I wanted to hang on to every drawing, toy, and weed they’d picked for me. Then I got over it. I only have so much room in my house, and I wanted to keep at least some of it as non-kid territory. Nowadays, I’m downright delighted by the prospect of the annual end-of-year purge. Hand me that trash bag, because I’m going in.
My friends and I have lengthy conversations about the joys of organization and how good it feels to get rid of stuff. Last Saturday while sharing sushi with a friend, we both got excited talking about how clearing away old stuff makes us feel nearly orgasmic. I was so inspired that when I got home, I filled up a huge box with dishes I no longer used and donated them the next day.
It feels great any time of the year, but it’s special this time of the year. This is the season of the Big Purge. When my kids were little, every year we were swimming in new toys the day after Christmas. I always did a huge clean out while my kids were playing with their new things, cringing as I tucked old toys into bags to throw away or donate. I usually stuck the bags in the closet for a little while because I was sure somebody would notice and ask where their forgotten stuffed bear went. Here’s the thing: They never did.
And I certainly felt better. I felt lighter and didn’t want to scream every time I turned around to see clutter. We had extra closet space, garage space, counter space… I even had space to think straight.
I decided I wanted to make it a habit of purging throughout the year. At first, even I was overwhelmed by my goal, but here’s what I do to make things easier:
I try to do mini-purges all year long. If I see something no one has used for a year, and I’m pretty sure it’s run its course in our house, I pack it up to donate or throw it away. It’s become a habit and now the bigger throw out doesn’t feel so daunting.
I found a great local consignment shop that buys gently used clothing and donate anything they don’t take.
I also got the kids involved. When they were younger, I gave them each a few garbage bags and told them to fill them up with things to donate to make room for Christmas gifts. That made it more fun for them and actually got them excited to do it. There were no tears or struggles, and it taught them how to recycle things they no longer wanted or used.
Now that they’re teenagers, we still do the same thing with their rooms, and now I get them to help me with other areas of the house like the Tupperware drawer, basement storage, and garage. When we make money off reselling stuff, we put it toward Christmas gifts for each other. It’s actually fun to see how much we earn from selling our stuff.
For bigger items, like furniture, whoever lists it on Facebook Marketplace gets to keep the money, which they love.
I try to get the big house purge done in late fall, before the busy holiday season starts — and definitely before I start Christmas shopping. It makes me feel fresh, more organized, and a lot better about buying new things for everyone because I know we have room and we’ve recycled things we no longer use.
Sure, there are some things that I will keep forever regardless of how much space I have. But I’ve also learned the less material stuff I have, the more I appreciate all things in life. And I can tell my kids feel the same. Yes, it takes some work and planning and there are times when I don’t feel like making the extra stop to the dump, consignment shop, or Goodwill. But I absolutely never regret it, and I always breathe a sigh of relief when I can actually put stuff away without being attacked by overstuffed closets and cupboards. Good riddance.
Katie lives in Maine with her three kids, two ducks, and a Goldendoodle. When she’s not writing, she’d reading, at the gym, redecorating her home, or spending too much money online.