A goal I have had since I became a mother was to help my kids learn how to manage their toys, something that my hoarding mother never, ever taught my brother and me. The goal was new toys in = old toys out in similar numbers. Well, life of course can get in the way of reaching our goals. Toys accumulated and for a long time, the kids were resistant to giving away any of their toys. That is, until they both realized that there were some special items that were worth money! I have one kid who holds onto her money and spends it very carefully on things she really wants - but that Mom and Dad won't buy (you know, all those cute writing sets that the school book clubs sell and the way-too-many-little-pointy-pieces-and-beads craft sets). The other kid spends his money as fast as he makes it (from doing odd jobs, birthdays). They both, however, like having a way to make more money.
The idea that some valuable items could be sold took a while to take hold. It started when I held a garage sale a couple of years ago. The kids sold a few toys and made a few dollars but they also learned some valuable lessons: certain types of toys sell better than others, condition matters and presentation is important. My son is now especially good at identifying toys he has that would be good to list online and those that are better to donate to charity (like toy cars, most puzzles and games, books).
We are getting ready to do a renovation job on our basement in order to make it work better for our family. A side effect from that is that we need to clear out a lot of belongings or we'll have to pay to store them somewhere else. No way am I paying to store stuff we don't need! My hoarding parents do enough of that for all of us. Not surprisingly, many of the toys my kids don't play with any longer have made their way to the basement. Now that they are being pulled out of cabinets and corners, the kids are seeing the opportunities to get selling again, this time online. They've been thrilled to set up the toys so I can take photos and have helped me gather information on the items so that I can write good ad copy. Some things have already been sold and there are still more items for us to photograph and post. An unexpected side effect of all this searching, posting and selling is that their skills at spotting belongings they no longer want are getting much better. I think there's hope that the hoarding genes won't carry on with them.
Tuesday, March 10. 2015
Monday, January 19. 2015
If this piece of paper disappeared in a week/month/year, would I even notice? Would it matter?
Looking around my office and house, I need to ask myself that question more often. Better yet, I should just start with the general rule that the majority of the personal papers I have could vanish and it would cause me no issues at all. For example, I have a box of letters and cards from friends and close family. There are perhaps a handful in there that might be interesting to me or my kids in the future, but who am I kidding? Most of them are birthday cards, one of many sent by the same people year after year (which I appreciate, but they aren't exactly items of historical worth). There are also letters from friends - not very many as it coincided with the rise of email - and none of them contain anything earthshattering. If I recycled them all, would I notice now? Would I notice ever?
From time to time, the memory of a possession I have not had or seen in years will pop up in my mind. Very rarely, I will regret no longer having that item, but usually it gives me more of a "hmmm, interesting" feeling and then I promptly forget about it. Virtually every toy and treasure of my childhood is lost in my parents' hoarded house, but this does not mean my memories of enjoying those things is lost. Do I feel anger that I had no choice about whether or not I would be able to see them again? Yes. Does it truly matter that I don't have physical possession of these things? No, it is actually a relief. For
me, it is a reminder that the item itself is not all that important;
it is the memory of the item and what it meant to me that is important.
Monday, December 15. 2014
I achieved my goal for this year, collecting 2018 items in total. That's 2018 items gone from my house since January of this year. My goal is always 2000 things (hence the blog name) and I have been recently challenged by a friend to get to the same number as the year (2014 things for 2014). As a result, I not only achieved my goal, I slightly exceeded it. If you had asked me in September if I would be able to do this, I would have been hesitant to say yes. I was struggling with heaps of kids' clothing, papers, odd electronics, toys, boxes, and sports equipment. In late October, I gave an enormous volume of little boy and girl clothes to a friend's grandchildren. That got things going again. What put me over the top was a conversation at a party a few days ago, when I spoke to a woman I only see infrequently but have known for years. I had been wondering what to do with my son's outgrown clothes, aside from straight donating to charity. We often receive clothes from a slightly older cousin, but had no one to pass them along to afterwards. She reminded me her son, who is a few years younger, is shaped like mine: narrow with long legs. I was so thrilled to have a kid who could wear these clothes that by the next afternoon I had gathered close to 30 items for him which I delivered today. That's how I ended up well over my mark! What is even better is that now I have two or three kids to whom I can pass along clothes next year as well (and maybe beyond).
In 2014, I have cleared out:
- lots of kids' clothing (wee little stuff and big stuff)
- excess school supplies (the kids' school now buys supplies, but I had lots around so it went to the food bank)
- crayons, crayons, crayons (to the children's museum)
- true junk out of the garage
- metal items (recycled for cash)
- deceased or unused electronics (recycled or sold)
- cardboard boxes
- gift bags
- sports equipment (sold mostly)
- toys (older kid sold them online with my help)
- dried out markers/empty pens (they had been around a long long time here. Went to the stationery store for recycling - Staples does that here)
- baby equipment (tub, swing, carrier, diaper genie, etc. Sold or given away)
- I also tried to use up personal and household products that had been around for ages and that I will never buy again - so they count.
Thursday, December 11. 2014
2014 has been a difficult year in many ways; some parts were difficult because of decisions I made voluntarily (chairing a convention, for example) and some parts were difficult for reasons beyond my control (so many deaths of friends and family). I struggled with removing items from my house during the first 3/4 of the year, but managed to discover and count off hundreds of items in the past two months. I am now at 1987 items on my 2000 Things List. That leaves me 13 items to find by December 31st, and if I take up my cousin's challenge, 27 things to get me to 2014 Things for 2014.
I've missed blogging over the past months and know from my prodigious comments on various support boards that my wish to write is still there. It could be a good resolution for 2015: 2000 more Things on the List for 2015 - and writing more regularly. Both of them would make me feel good, and I know one of them is a resolution I can keep!
Wednesday, August 27. 2014
Once again, I was amazed by the amount of money I can get for taking odd bits of metal in to my local (and very tidy and pleasant) metal recycler. I find that over the course of a year enough items accumulate to make it worthwhile to sort and take them in. Each year for the past 4 or 5 years, I have received more and more money every time. I hate to throw away items that can be recycled - and if someone is going to pay me for them, all the better. Many of them are items that cannot be put in with our municipal recycling anyway. Those worn-out aluminum frying pans? Worth way more than you'd imagine due to the value of the aluminum. A steel roasting pan with holes? It's not worth quite as much as aluminum, but add in some folding camp chair frames (after the fabric has worn out), some hinges from your old gate, and some galvanized steel downspout pieces and you have a good haul. Copper items are especially valuable and even insulated copper wire items like computer cables, cut-off power cords, and old seasonal light strings are worth enough that it would be silly to throw them away. All I do is designate one box and toss in whatever I find for recycling; I sort it out when it's time to take it in by separating the metals. Copper and brass are easy, and a magnet will help identify the steel.
I took in brass shower faucets/fittings, some badly dented aluminum water bottles, copper pipe scraps, a heavy copper wire cord from an old stove, a huge shopping bag of computer cables, and a box full of steel items and ended up with enough to pay for an afternoon of mini golf and ice cream with my kids. Everyone was happy!