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Clean Up: A Personal Story

This post is a very personal one for me.  I do not typically share my personal life or problems with very many people…but as I was going through a particular struggle the last few weeks, it occurred to me that I have a unique position to try and help other moms and remind them that they are not alone.  Maybe it seems obvious to think that we all have struggles, but it was someone pointing the obvious out to me that motivates this blog.  I hope some of you will take me up on the challenge and offer at the end.

Like many families, it seems that life has handed us one thing after the next for quite a while now…family members who have died, a child who needed brain surgery, a special needs child, my own injury that causes chronic pain and difficulty with many tasks…it seems there is always something in high priority and it was not usually in my control what that was.  THINGS started to collect around my house…we have too much stuff, much of it being kids stuff.  

Garage 1 v2We are clean people….we dust, vacuum, clean the bathrooms weekly (ok, well almost weekly). Dishes and laundry are done daily.  But truth be told, despite my OCD nature to want everything put back in its place and be cleaned in particular ways, I have trouble getting rid of things.  I would like to give it to someone who wants it, needs it, keep it for sentimental value… or maybe it is in good condition and I could sell it and make some money to help out the family budget.  After all, I am the owner of a successful consignment sale…I certainly know how to prepare and tag my own items, right?  Wrong…I might know how to, but I never seem to get to it.  So the stuff keeps piling up….until about 2 weeks ago thanks to someone stating the obvious.

I knew keeping the stuff was not making me happy.  In fact, DAILY I was quite stressed over everything that I could never seem to sort through and move out.  However, life was happening.  The last couple of months has been especially stressful with our special needs child who was going through medication changes and having many “episodes”.  During one particularly bad day, I sat reviewing notes from his various therapists.  One of the providers, who I will call BXT, has the unique position of being home-based and pointed out that we had lost our ability to manage our son with the things that are important to him because those things were everywhere in our house….we had no control.  Although I had read this message previously and thought “yeah, I know…we have a lot of stuff and we need to get rid of it and organize it”, the message did not profoundly hit me until that day as I sat re-reading, trying to figure out what I was missing or what I could do to improve things for my son and our family.  Although the message was worded in a kind way, suggesting a “summer project”, and was only intended to help I suddenly got rather peeved at BXT….because he was right.  So, I decided to stay peeved…because being Type A personality I did not like the suggestion that I lacked control because of my own failing…it was motivational to be annoyed.

Organizing It v2I wish I had thought to take a picture before we started cleaning out our garage, it was quite an avalanche waiting to happen with some furniture, older sale equipment, bins of clothing and toys, even empty cardboard boxes waiting to go to the burn pile….this is about 2 days into the project.  

With our son safely in a special needs day camp for 2 weeks, my husband took off work and we embarked on what we thought was going to take about a week of purging stuff in our garage.  We started with the safety issues of installing locked cabinets for power tools and chemicals.  Then after that week, we got to the STUFF…you know, all the stuff we had packed up in bins to store for the sale.  Friends, it was ugly….most of the clothing, toys, and books I had packed up with the determination to tag it myself had sat.  It sat too long…elastic was dried out, yellow staining had developed on the clothing, mice had made a couple of nests, some styles of clothing were dated.  We went through it all…being peeved about the obvious situation that had boldly but tactfully pointed out, I was determined to let go of things and also to be realistic about what I could accomplish.  I decided that I needed to throw away, donate, and use the TCT Tagging Service (and yes, I do pay 20% of my total sales plus the fees for supplies and storage, the same as all consignors).

Kathy v2So far I have delivered 14 bins of clothing, outerwear and shoes, 4 boxes of books, and 4 bins of toys to Kathy, our Tagging Service Coordinator.   Here she is getting to work on my items. Thankfully, she said she found the funniest shirt she has tagged for anyone….I hope she keeps her sense of humor because I’m still sending more items her way.  

The garbage man is probably not happy.  The local thrift store has a lot of sorting to do.  My son is rather upset that we have locking cabinets in our garage.  The mice have lost their home.  But my house is returning back to order, I think I may even feel some sanity returning…I may be able to park my car in the garage this winter!  I am beginning to find some calm in the storm.  With the epic project of the garage being cleaned out, I can now clean out the smaller areas inside our home and I will have a place to put those bins that are going to the next sale season…directly to our Tagging Service preparers.  I never, ever, want to be in a garage for almost 2 weeks in 90-degree heat…ever!

I challenge each of you to consider realistically…do you have things you want to free yourself from, things you need to get rid of to clear the clutter out of your home and mind?  Will you actually have time to prepare your items, hold a yard sale, or post and meet on Facebook groups?  Please don’t make my mistake.  Don’t hang on to things hoping to maximize your earnings or think you will make the time to do it.  BXT said the obvious to me, he called me out.  Now I’m saying that to you…let it go (insert Frozen song here…lol).  Seriously, being moms we tend to take on more than is reasonable.  We want to do it all!  I am so happy I have cleared a lot of clutter, I’m thankful that I was motivated by someone to make THIS the priority…I’m starting to feeling like I can function again.  Yes, I will “lose” some money to our Tagging Service preparer, but that is far better than leaving it sit and causing both physical and mental clutter…not to mention how much we ended up throwing away (please remember our Tagging Service is not a cleaning service and clothing should be freshly laundered and delivered in bins so we can keep your items clean).  

So, if you need to, you can be peeved at me…but it’s time to get rid of stuff!  Please join me this season in getting Paid to Purge.  If this post connects with you, I encourage you to sign up for our Tagging Service NOW!  Make the commitment to clear it out…make it a summer project.  

I’m getting clutter free…I hope my family and others will help me be accountable to what we accomplished in the last 2 weeks and give me kind reminders, if or when needed, of where we were and where we do not want to be again. It may not solve all of our life problems, but it sure has been a great place to start.  I challenge you to join me!