“What are you going to do with all your stuff?!” This is the question people ask me when they find out our family is leaving the U.S. for a nine-month world journey.
My answer is pretty simple: We keep what’s important and give, sell, recycle or trash the rest.
At first it was easier to say it than do it, but we figured it out and got a system going.
Pile 1:Keep and store: These are items we want to have waiting for us when we return. They have the MOST sentimental value or use to us. Each person gets a max of 4 plastic tubs.
Pile 2: Big Kids pile and/or sell: We have a large family and our three grown kids are creating homes with their spouses, so we want to make sure that they have first pick of those special things that have some sentimental to us or them. We have no strings attached to any of these items and if they don’t want them, we will decide whether to sell them or give them away.
Pile 3: Giveaway/Donate: These are those items that we have either outgrown or don’t have use for anymore. The amount of this “stuff” was alarming. BTW, I thought I had done a good job of keeping my clutter to a minimum, but I was sorely mistaken. When looking at the amount of things that we purchased and didn’t really LOVE, it made me a little sick. All I could see was the money we spent on these items. At least someone else who needs them will make use of them.
Pile 4: Recycle/Throwaway: These were all the broken, stained items and papers that somehow got shoved in the cracks, left in the corners or just overlooked.
- Clear plastic tubs for things we’re keeping so a quick glance let’s us know what’s inside. Like I said, we each get a max of four of these.
- Paper boxes for items to donate.
- Bags (plastic or paper) for throw-away items.
- Rental of a 5X5 storage unit to store initial items we will keep. When it’s time to store the furniture we are keeping, we will expand to a 5 x 10.
- Sort through one room at a time.
- If we can’t decide which pile to put an item in, set it aside and come back to it later.
- Set a time limit. This really helped the kids because we set two hours to go through each of their rooms. It kept us all moving forward because we knew the clock was ticking.
Clothes. Sorting clothes has been quite an experience! I’ll tell you about that interesting process in my next post.
It takes courage to let go of things. My experience since taking this leap is that I feel lighter, freer. I’m realizing even more and more that it’s the people, the memories and the laughter that I remember, not which tablecloth I used or what plates the food was served on.
The stuff I want to hold onto are the experiences and the memories. The rest doesn’t matter to me like it did a few months ago.