Growing up, if there was one thing my mother didn’t tolerate, it was clutter. She was constantly throwing things out, donating them or selling them at yard sales. I vividly remember riding my bike past her yard sale table one day and realizing in horror that she was selling several of my prized possessions. My 10-year-old self slammed on the brakes and snatched them up before someone else did. Maybe I didn’t play with that Barbie house much anymore, but I wasn’t ready for someone else to either. From that point on, I paid a lot more attention to what my mom rounded up during her de-cluttering expeditions!
Now that I’m a mom, I can see why she made a steady habit of purging. Kids have a lot of “stuff” they are constantly outgrowing or no longer using. I have half as many kids as my mother, and I can hardly keep up with the array of shoes, toys, books and sporting gear that are no longer in regular use.
And don’t even get me started on keeping up with their clothes! One tip I’ve found that helps in this department is to keep a large, recyclable “donation” bag in the corner of the bedrooms. My husband and kids know that any time they try on something and have outgrown or no longer want it, it goes in the bag. That way it doesn’t end up crammed back in a dresser or tossed on the closet floor.
On the flip side, I also inherited my mom’s love of shopping at yard sales and consignment stores. There’s nothing like finding a great bargain on something you can repurpose and enjoy. Seeing my mom score big discounts on second-hand fashions, as well as furniture, china, rugs and other décor has inspired me to do the same.
Some of the pieces may need a little love to get them back on display, but now have a whole new second life, and a fun story to go along with them. Over the holidays, I complimented my mom on a silver water pitcher on her dining room table. “Oh thanks,” she said, “I got that at a yard sale last summer for a dollar.” Score, another bargain for mom!
Luckily, her habits have rubbed off on me in both directions, and I consciously try not to let my second-hand finds pile up amidst unused clutter. It can be really hard to let go of certain items, especially if they were gifts or hold special memories. Kind of like that Barbie house. But in the end, I also inherited my mom’s de-cluttering sense of satisfaction. Not that I don’t have a few closets on my spring cleaning “to-do” list. It’s a never-ending cycle, after all.
Speaking of spring cleaning, any time is a great time to sift through bedroom closets, sort through kitchen cabinets and organize the piles in the garage, but spring seems to reenergize and refocus us to tackle these pesky chores. Plus, you can always reward yourself with a fun, second-hand purchase for a job well done. Maybe I can get a good deal on that pitcher at my mom’s next yard sale!
Washington FAMILY Magazine