The annual post-Christmas purge

We remind our family every year that we don’t want a lot of presents. We don’t do gifts between adults anymore, and the kids usually just get exactly what they need in terms of fresh, age-appropriate toys. We also encourage the gifting of used/previously loved items to cut back on waste. This year was a big improvement on years past, and I’m thankful we’ve been able to convince everyone to reduce a little. However, bringing new things into the house – regardless of how reasonable the amount – still requires drastic space-making action on our part. We live in a 1000 sq foot home with no basement (the basement is currently a rented apartment), and we like to keep our living space looking tidy and as minimalistic as possible. Clutter stresses me out. To make our job that much more emotionally intense, my wife’s childhood home is being sold and she had to bring home anything she didn’t want her dad to take to the dump. We now have boxes of stuff, including her grandmother’s good china set, to store. So every day since Christmas, my wife and I have been on a purging and organizing rampage.

This year I’ve sold a couple of dozen things on Facebook Marketplace (which paid for a nice date night!), and we made a trip to Ikea to improve Avery’s arts and crafts storage now that she’s into all sorts of colouring utensils, scissors, and paints. My wife also made a couple of wooden drawers to fit under the bookshelves and TV stand – shallow spaces we’d been unable to find baskets for.

While we were at it, we went through Avery’s closet (something we do about 4 times a year) and packed away outgrown things for baby #2, and brought out some of the bigger hand-me-down clothes we had in bins. Every time we work on tidying or organizing Avery’s room now we think about how it’ll work for two kids to share the space. It’s going to take some demolition of the lath and plaster walls and usurping of the crawl space (where we currently store about 12 large rubbermaid bins of stuff we HAVEN’T been able to purge yet) just to fit two beds in there. We have sold off family heirlooms and artwork that we don’t have wall space for and countless other sentimental and/or useful items over the years, and it’s only going to get more cut-throat when we need to take over that crawlspace to expand the kids’ room. We’re going to have to live like real minimalists…

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8 thoughts on “The annual post-Christmas purge

  1. Less really can be more as you are saying. Less also makes life easier for children and parents. About inherited breakables: Breakables break. WHO better than YOU to USE, enjoy and break them? That isn’t suggesting 9 month olds eat off fancy china in their highchairs over marble floors… but USE IT and when it breaks remember the using of it. Remember the JOY and also the loving of the prior owner. WHO BETTER THAN YOU TO USE IT ALL UP?
    Happiest of New Years to you and yours and wishes for a year of joys and laughter. Thank you for writing in the past, present and hopefully the future. Thank you.

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    • That’s very true, and I usually prefer to use our nice things rather than store things not to be used. However, we have plans to use the china when we have a bigger house with a formal dining room and our kids are older. We want to keep it nice for the next chapter of our lives when we plan to host more fancy dinner parties and will really be able to appreciate it 🙂

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  2. Oof, feeling this right now. We have an 800sqft home, but we also have a basement, which has been such a help. But purging feels like a constant, ongoing thing. Thankfully we’ve already trained relatives to give us less over the years because we travel for Christmas and often don’t have much room to bring things home to begin with.
    Still, I have tiny anxiety attacks whenever I think of trying to fit *two* kids in this space.

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    • I like to remind myself that early settlers (and current people in poverty) crammed ten kids into a two-room cabin and it was just an accepted way of life. They made it work. Also, I lived in a one-bedroom apartment for a while as a kid and my BDRM was a bunk bed in the hall outside my mom’s room. I LOVED it and never felt underprivileged. Our kids will hopefully think of their tight quarters and normal as it’s all they know! ❤️

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  3. So, we have 1200 sq ft, but one of the rooms is a guest room/office that we have to keep clutter free with an empty closet because my in laws visit so frequently. It leaves us constantly struggling to find places for stuff. We’ve been purging since Christmas as well! One car is completely full of donations. And like you guys, I had to try to find a place for my nana’s 16 place settings of Christmas china that I inherited this year. It’s nuts. I feel like we’re always struggling in Charlotte’s room, and I’m desperate to re-do her space so that it suits her preschool needs rather than her baby needs!

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  4. We’re in about 950 sq feet and one small storage closet in our shared basement. My parents, who have tons of space and tons of crap, got tired of my brother and I stashing things at their house (Christmas decorations, baby gear) so they rented a storage unit for all of us to share. It is ABSURD, given how much room they have, but whatever… So far the bunk beds plus mini-crib are working in our daughter’s room with space for her to play, but we’re also actively looking for bigger places. I hate stuff, but I also hate feeling cluttered in a small space!

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