When I Grow Up

What To Do With All the Stuff

Secret Subject Swap


Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 14 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My Secret Subject was submitted by: http://Bakinginatornado.com

The prompt: Are you a hoarder, a purger, or something in between?

I am most definitely not a purger. I have a few of those in my family and though I understand the desire for a tidy space, I like having things around me that prompt memories and am entirely too thrifty to throw out things that are likely to be needed at a future date. However, I wouldn’t consider myself a hoarder either. I am more of a collector, and a preserver of history. I try to be selective in what items I keep around.

Nowadays, having too many things in a space makes me a little anxious. It also makes routine maintenance more difficult and time-consuming.While it was easy to hold onto sentimental items when I was younger, each year brings more items and the space doesn’t change, so I have learned to curate.

For example, when it comes to baby clothes, some people keep them all, some keep nothing. When my first child was born, my mom gave me a few things that she had held onto and, like the bassinet that held both me and my sister and all of our children, it was special to have some things that we shared. Of course like most families, we passed clothes down to the next kid, but once our family was complete, it was time to pass them on to other families to use. I had a handful of items that were too precious to me to part with, so there is a single plastic bin in the attic with items that hopefully my grandchildren will get to use. This contains a select few outfits (without elastic which degrades over time), blankets and handmade items such as hats and booties.

As a family historian, I have a significant amount of paper. I have been attempting to corral it into neat binders (all indexed by family) to protect it and make it easier to share with others or to determine which genealogical avenue to pursue next. I admit to holding onto some pieces of paper with sentimental value (such as some drawings done by my children as toddlers) and some to show how things have changed (such as a pay stub from my first “real” job in 1989). While these examples have little to no monetary value, similar items from my ancestors would be priceless.

Aside from a tendency to rip tempting recipes or interesting tidbits that may find their way into my writing out of magazines, overall, I don’t fall into the paper trap that many others complain about. Most incoming paper gets dealt with promptly. Bills go in a folder, relevant ads are set aside for a week and other promotional pieces of mail are recycled. I do sometimes fall behind on reading magazines, but these too are recycled. (The recipes are my current subject of frustration. I have binders to sort them in, but have been piling them up instead of filing right away. I contemplated recycling the whole pile last weekend.)

Although I know I could never follow Marie Kondo’s method, I do see value in asking the useful/beautiful/bring joy question. If something doesn’t fit in one of these categories, it is simply taking up space and is not paying rent. I long ago gave up the guilt of rehoming an item that someone has given me; some things may outlive their usefulness or no longer “fit in.” The way I look at it, someone else may appreciate the item more, so they should have it. I do want to emphasize the rehoming aspect though. If something still has useful life, it should be sold or given away, not dumped in a landfill.

The challenge is what to do with all these extras. I have an ideological aversion to trashing things, so donating items makes sense. However, many organizations will throw out what they cannot use, so unless I carefully chose what and where to donate, I am only transferring the responsibility of filling landfills to the non-profits. This sort of curating takes time, something that is often in short supply. So there are times that the donations pile up, waiting for word of their ultimate destination. I know this looks bad to purgers but it is really more a question of time management than willingness to part with stuff. Some days I make multiple stops: high-end clothing to the organization that donates directly to teens, still wearable but less desirable clothing and household goods to the thrift store that sells the items and donates to local charities, and books to the local library.

So to answer the question, I guess I am in-between. With some things I may lean more one direction than the other, and I think that is likely true of us all. (Don’t we all have some weakness, some category of item that we keep picking up, even when there we don’t need more?) I find as the years go by, there is more that I am appreciating from afar. I am noticing and commenting on things, but I don’t want the responsibility of owning, storing and caring for them. Overall, I find I want to have less, not more and when thinking about what I would take with me if forced to leave my home quickly, with no guarantee of again seeing anything left behind, there is not much I would choose to bring. I can’t think that this is the mindset of a hoarder, yet since I do still possess so many things, it’s not that of a purger either.

Now, please take a couple minutes and check out what others in the group have to say:


11 thoughts on “What To Do With All the Stuff

  1. Rena McDaniel

    I am a purger although I do keep some of the stuff that you mentioned. I have the outfits I brought my children home in and some of their school work. I don’t like to have things lying around the house I’m to OCD for that. We also sold all of our possessions six years ago to move to a new state and start over. I did keep those few sentimental things but that was it. What we took had to fit into our car.

    1. Kimberly Yavorski Post author

      There are days I would love to limit our stuff that way! At one point we were looking at moving halfway across the country and started getting rid of stuff, but plans changed. Now of course the stuff has expanded to fit the space.

  2. Tammy Altonen Horak

    I have gone through alot of stuff when I got divorced, but i still find myself collecting things that bring back memories, then things for the grandkids eventually and everything else can go.

  3. Rabia Lieber (@MamaRabia)

    I am the same way with stuff and I hate throwing things away. I currently have a large bin of toys that aren’t complete. I know we have the other pieces, but I refuse to get rid of them until I can put it all together and give away something useful.

    1. Kimberly Yavorski Post author

      Me too! In the past I have given away games that I thought were complete, only to find pieces months later (in the wrong box). I felt guilty for giving away something incomplete.