18 Dec 2011

It Takes a Village… Of Crap

14 Comments Personal Crap, Uncategorized

They say it takes a village to raise a child.

I say it takes a village to get me motivated to clean all the unnecessary crap out of my house.

About a month ago, my lovely friend Jane and I were discussing our frustration over the lack of organization and the overflow of junk in our houses and garages. (And any space where any form of junk could comfortably fit). She is ahead of me in the organization game. When pregnant with her second child, she frantically got ready by making space, throwing stuff out, and organizing what was left. Her needs are more maintenance-driven now. My needs are vast and they make me anxious as hell, so I tend to ignore them.

Jane came up with a brilliant idea. “Tuesday morning I’m coming to your house and we’re tackling your garage. Then next Wednesday you’re coming to my house and we’ll deal with my garage.” I told her I’d think about it. My garage has been reduced to “That scary place where we have a second fridge”. I walk in there only to grab a spare milk or the ravioli that needs to be cooked. I try not to look around because, when I do, my heart beats 1,000 times a minute and I almost collapse from the thought of what needs to be done.

After a couple days I texted her that I was ready to do it, but I wasn’t sure exactly what I was ready for. “It might just be chatting and bouncing ideas”, I wrote. She said she was up for anything.

That Tuesday she showed up, we had some coffee, and we talked about our frustrations. Then she asked if she could see the garage and my heart sank. So did my intestines. I was nervous. What she saw didn’t scare her a bit. We got bags for Goodwill, bags for trash, boxes for things we were keeping and got to work. She did most of the work. I did most of the dry heaving and carrying things out, while shaking my head “yes” or “no” to her questions of does this stay? Two and a half hours later, we were at Goodwill with a full SUV, all of my trash cans and recycling bins were full, and my garage was transformed from “scary” to “mildly uncomfortable”.

I felt like a giant weight had been lifted off of me, and like a giant mess had been lifted out of my garage. The following Wednesday, as planned, we tackled Jane’s garage. Again, after less than three hours, we transformed her space into, well, space!

Last Tuesday she came to me again. We went through G-Man’s toys and books and got his room in pristine working order. I had been avoiding going through that stuff for fear of the pain. There wasn’t as much of a mess, just a lot of stuff G no longer needed that I would have to mourn. The first hour was hard. Very. But Jane and my mom-in-law helped me through it. By the end, I think I was impressing Jane with my ability to put things in the Goodwill pile.

Wednesday I’ll go to Jane again, and then we’ll break for the holidays. I’m praying we’ll pick right up in the new year, because I’m loving this feeling. I want my life to be simpler, with less STUFF, and this feels like I’m heading in that direction.

I think the best part is not only that I’m doing something that I’ve been wanting to do, that I’m turning my house into the house I want it to be, and that I’m simplifying things for my family. The best part is that I’m doing it with a friend, a relatively new friend, who is adding to my life in ways I didn’t know she would. And the fact that I get to help her back feels immeasurably good.

I’m telling you, if you have a friend you can do this with… DO IT! It’s good for your soul, your house, your family, and whatever charity you choose as the benefactor of your unnecessary spending and storing. Assuming you’re anything like me. And, you are.

written by
Lisa Arch likes being a working actress... but LOVES being a Mom!

14 Responses to “It Takes a Village… Of Crap”

  1. Reply Melisa says:

    I did this a few years ago, and LOVED it. It is great to have someone there who doesn’t have emotional attachments to the STUFF, to take charge a little bit.

    Hmm. Going through clutter, getting rid of unneeded/unused items, and finishing with a great-looking space. That sounds like a great idea for a television show…

    • Reply flawlessmom says:

      I’m telling you, Melisa. Clean House helped SO MUCH. I learned more on that show than I ever taught anyone.

  2. Reply Christine says:

    Ummmm…so you do remember everything you taught me about letting go of things that no longer served me or my space, right??? I’m kinda laughing at you right now, kinda enjoying the irony and also kinda feeling way better about my basement and garage, which are still filled with teetering stacks of untouched “keep” bins.

  3. Reply Julie says:

    Lisa, I have a houseful of crap. I can’t even imagine inflicting it on a friend. After New Year’s, though, it’s going. It may be a little at a time, but I dream I’ll wake up some morning in a house I can actually invite someone over to.

    I’m so glad the decluttering and donating is going so well!

    • Reply flawlessmom says:

      Julie, I felt the same way. But it is so freeing having someone there with you!!! I was so ashamed and then it all just vanished, along with the crap! I’m telling you. It’s great!

  4. Reply TracyK says:

    Ok, so it’s so funny that you wrote this because the weekend that you wrote it, we FINALLY had a garage sale to get rid of all the old baby clothes and boxes of toys. Along with the giant baby items, like swings, jumpers, etc! Saturday was awesome. Sunday was only ok. My goal was to make enough $$$ to cover a birthday party for Brandon next month and GET THE CRAP OUT OF MY HOUSE! So, I will tell you we sold over 400 items! Mostly clothes. And we came pretty close to my goal.

    Then my step-father in law offered to catalog the rest with a computer program approved by the IRS to see how much we could write off our taxes for donating the leftover stuff. After going through everything, he tallied $3500 worth of stuff (we’re talking $3 onesie, etc). We had well over 1000 items of clothes and toys left! It was eye-opening to see how much stuff we had accumulated. Most of which was gifts or hand me downs from others.

    It feels really good to know that all that stuff is going to go to people who can really use it. And B gets his birthday party. And I get the write off and the SPACE back in our house and garage! And I’m not going crazy trying to figure out where to put the new toys the kids got for the holidays because there is actually SPACE for things! Win-win-win!!

    Have to say, I’m a little addicted to purging things now. I can’t wait to go through my and Aaron’s closet! But, man he’s a hoarder (third generation)! 😉

    • Reply flawlessmom says:

      Tracy, that is brilliant in so many ways!! I wanted to do the garage sale thing but I just couldn’t face it. I think that is all so amazing!!!! And that computer program sounds incredible!

      Yeah, it gets addictive. I like it.

  5. Reply Ann says:

    Okay, but if you become one of those people with a tupperware for every toy, with a picture of said toy coordinated and affixed? GOODBYE.

    • Reply flawlessmom says:

      OMG, Ann. I want to be that person so badly. But, thank goodness for our friendship’s sake, it’ll never come to pass.

      The closest I’ve gotten is labeling some kitchen tupperware with “Hello My Name Is” stickers. Like, “Hello, My Name is TEA!” Yes, for real.

  6. Reply Maureen says:

    You inspired me to finally go through my downstairs and box up the gazillions of unneeded, no-longer-played-with toys! They are boxed in the garage, as we are going to do a yard sale (need every dollar we can get right now!) but when that garage gets cleaned out and the yard sale happens (soon! Or I may beat up Steve), I will be a very happy camper. Now I just need to tackle the upstairs….

    • Reply flawlessmom says:

      Nice work, MO!! To be honest, it seems WORSE around here since I started this process. But I think it’s one of those things that gets worse before it gets better. That’s what I’m telling myself, at least.

  7. Reply Erin I'm Gonna Kill Him says:

    If you find a tub of severed feet in Jane’s garage, walk silently to your car and get out of there. I’ll tweet you next steps.

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