08 Jan Confessions of an Organized Packrat
When my grandmother moved out of her home several years ago, her children pitched in to help with the monumental task of going through her belongings. In her sewing room they found bags after bag with neat labels like, “Large Zippers,” and “Small Zippers.” My grandmother lived through the Depression, and I think that changes the way you look at belongings. She never threw ANYTHING away, (“Why, that’s a perfectly good cottage cheese container! You can put treasures in it!”) and I can credit her with the fact that I still reuse Ziplock bags until they fall apart at the seams.
Frugality is, overall, a very good trait. But it can become a problem when it spills over into keeping things you don’t need or use. I think I always justified my clutter in the name of frugality and also, because like my grandmother, my household clutter was often organized. (Stick it in a plastic tub, put a label on it, and it’s not clutter, right? Right?) Is it possible to be organized and still a pack rat? Yes! Here’s a good example from my living room:
In case you can’t tell, this is a very neatly labeled three-drawer plastic organizer dedicated to my kids shoes, hats, and mittens. I even segregated my labels into “Boys Shoes” and “Girl Shoes!” It’s a feat of micromanagement at its best. But when I looked at this corner of my living room through minimalist glasses, I started thinking… “Hmm… I have two drawers full of shoes for my three kids when my kids wear the same pair of shoes every single day.” I decided that I could absorb my kids shoes into the adult shoe system, a lovely shoe bench that my dad made for us. As a bonus, my kids can now easily put away their own shoes because they don’t have to open those tricky plastic drawers.
As I went through the shoes, I put some in the donation box and put the rest (like the rain boots, which they don’t wear often) in the closet in their room.
I then absorbed the hats and mittens into a bin I already use for adult hats and gloves. The only downside is that this bin is located on a high closet shelf, so the kids can’t reach it. But I’ll tackle that issue later. If they can learn to put away their own shoes, I’ll help them with hats and mittens for awhile. And now I have this lovely empty space in my living room! I immediately thought, “What will I put there?” But you know what? I’m going to put NOTHING there, and just enjoy a little more free space in which to breathe.