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Old 02-09-2009, 11:44 AM   #1
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help me downsize the stuff

We cannot manage all the kids and all this stuff, so some stuff needs to go!

Already working on less toys, less clothes is next. Can't seem to make sense of less diapers, as the buffer is really nice (as oldest dd wears pockets to school...). Maybe I'm thinking wrong there though. Is there anything that doesn't fit in to the equation of less is more with a family of lots of little ones (functionally 5 kids ages 6 and under)?

How many outfits per kid to you keep in rotation? Do you limit # of books and just go to the library when need be? Any other such tidbits that might encourage me?

I really want to take time to sit and just enjoy/train my kids. The house is so busting at the seams that it falls apart in moments yet takes forever to put back together. Help!

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Old 02-09-2009, 11:48 AM   #2
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Re: help me downsize the stuff

i hope you get some great advice...id love to steal it and apply it at my home too!!i went through and decluttered each room in our house, but it needs more...
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Old 02-10-2009, 12:16 PM   #3
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Re: help me downsize the stuff

This may or may not work for you, but what i've been doing is boxing up the clutter and putting it in the garage, then this summer, I can sort through it. I give the things I feel I can get rid of now to goodwill now, but some things I am not sure on.
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Old 02-10-2009, 02:08 PM   #4
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Re: help me downsize the stuff

The battle against stuff is never ending. As soon as you get something down to a managable level, it seems more stuff sneaks in. One thing I do not downsize too much is the books. I do weed out the books that we don't want/like or the ones that just don't fit into our family. I love to use the library but lately the kids have been terrible about putting the library books back where they belong in the house so I am currently missing one and the fines at our library are not cheap. When I switch clothes out each season, I try to limit the kids to 6 outfits plus church clothes. By the end of each season, they all usually have more than that between gifts and such that come in. We do our best to contain toys in the playroom and use bedrooms just for sleeping so that keeps the toy clutter down. They have to clean that room a few times a week. If I see that they are are not able to keep it clean, I clean it and weed out the toys that I decide no longer need to be around. This is usually incentive enough for them to start cleaning it better. But as long as the toy mess in contained in the playroom, I'm not as worried about it most days. We have tons of art stuff but I keep most of it up high or locked in cabinets so they can't get to it without permission. I do also keep some extra diapers on hand for when you get behind or someone gets sick but I have cut those down a bit because they were getting a bit out of hand as well. The hardest part is training everyone to stop walking over the mess and pick it up as you go. When we all do that, it is much easier to deal with. I have known some families who drastically limit the number of toys and clothes they allow each child to own. One family only had 2 toy boxes and if they didn't fit, they didn't keep them. They also pretty much limited the boys to 3 play outfits a season since they were doing laundry all the time anyway. Personally, even with doing laundry regularly it takes me a few days to get everything back where it belongs so that would not be enough around here. I think the real secret is a maid to clean up the clutter for you on a regular basis but we all know that is not realistic. Not sure if that helps much other than to say we are there too. Some days it is rather frustrating but then at the same time you have to stop and remind yourself how lucky you are to have the problem of "too much stuff."
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Old 02-10-2009, 02:32 PM   #5
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Re: help me downsize the stuff

Ever heard of a 27 fling boogie. You grab 27 things that you can do with out, and either put them in the trash or to goodwill and never look back.
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Old 02-10-2009, 09:32 PM   #6
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Re: help me downsize the stuff

I put my house on a "declutter diet" last year. My main goal was to empty out the spare bedroom (good thing, we ended up needing it for baby #3), but in order to clear out that room, I had to make space in other rooms first.

Anyway, one fun thing that kept me motivated was a weight loss goal - say, 200lbs. So I weighed everything before it left the house (garbage, recycling, Goodwill, Craigslist, Freecycle, FSOT, etc.) and kept a running tally. Not exactly efficient, but definitely motivational.

As for toys, we keep most of them in the basement and only bring up a few things at a time to play with. You can either rotate them on a regular basis, or let the kids trade toys when they want. When toys seem to be taking over the house, it's easiest to start fresh. Instead of deciding which ones should go, just remove ALL the toys from the play area. Then put back only the ones you want.

Kids can help weed out their toys. I gave my boys 2 bins labeled "Want/" and "Don't Want/" and let them sort their toys. At 6 and 3, they had no trouble sorting them this way, and they liked having that sense of empowerment.
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Old 02-13-2009, 06:58 AM   #7
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Re: help me downsize the stuff

We do limit. Books are severely limited - we only have two six foot bookshelves, lol. We limit it to GOOD, living books. No twaddle. The library, yes, we limit. You need a bookshelf. Look on Craigslist if your budget is tight. You can often pick them up for free or less than $20. Keep one shelf clear for library books. No more than what will fit there.

But, we've mostly limited toys. All of our childrens' toys could fit in a laundry basket. No toys in bedrooms - just snugglebugs - the doll & stuffed animal they sleep with. We've gotten rid of almost everything plastic.... though relatives keep giving us more. And, sigh, we keep donating it. When I think of the wasted $$ on toys. Our girls have crocheted food and dishes and our little boy has a couple tractors. We have a VERY small amount of dvds, very few dishes that are "extra", et cetera. I'm thinning out clothes AGAIN. Keep the extras in age/sex labeled Rubbermaid containers. We use pint jars to drink out of as we're trying to get plastic out of our lives and they break at least one glass per week. Mostly, ditching toys was a lot of it. And putting games out of reach so that we had to get them up / down. Shoes/boots are the bane of my existence, but they each have a pair of good winter boots, chore boots, dress shoes, tennis shoes. I'm open to suggestions, but they really can't go out in public with goat and chicken poop attached to their dress shoes, so I can't see anyway around that. Mostly, if you don't use it, get rid of it. Do not get attached to STUFF!!!!

Sew a washcloth onto a towel. Color code the towel. Hang hooks. Each child has his/her towel. That's it. A few for you and Daddy. Color code cups. Use socks with colored bottoms per child or better yet, Old Navy socks have ages written on them. These things have simplified our lives.

We've also color coded hangers. We have two bedrooms upstairs - one for girls, one for boys. Two small dressers. All shirts get hung up. If they go with a sweater they get hung up together. All kids age two and up know how to put away clothes. All kids age five and up know how to hang up clothes. They KNOW their color. This is useful when you have four girls sharing one closet that has a bar on it only about three feet long.

I'd love to limit clothing more than we do, but they have to have good clothes and chore clothes and the chore clothes get super dirty so wearing them more than one day, not an option.

What else are you thinking?
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Last edited by BlsdMama; 02-13-2009 at 07:01 AM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 02:41 PM   #8
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Re: help me downsize the stuff

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlsdMama View Post
We do limit. Books are severely limited - we only have two six foot bookshelves, lol. We limit it to GOOD, living books. No twaddle. The library, yes, we limit. You need a bookshelf. Look on Craigslist if your budget is tight. You can often pick them up for free or less than $20. Keep one shelf clear for library books. No more than what will fit there.

But, we've mostly limited toys. All of our childrens' toys could fit in a laundry basket. No toys in bedrooms - just snugglebugs - the doll & stuffed animal they sleep with. We've gotten rid of almost everything plastic.... though relatives keep giving us more. And, sigh, we keep donating it. When I think of the wasted $$ on toys. Our girls have crocheted food and dishes and our little boy has a couple tractors. We have a VERY small amount of dvds, very few dishes that are "extra", et cetera. I'm thinning out clothes AGAIN. Keep the extras in age/sex labeled Rubbermaid containers. We use pint jars to drink out of as we're trying to get plastic out of our lives and they break at least one glass per week. Mostly, ditching toys was a lot of it. And putting games out of reach so that we had to get them up / down. Shoes/boots are the bane of my existence, but they each have a pair of good winter boots, chore boots, dress shoes, tennis shoes. I'm open to suggestions, but they really can't go out in public with goat and chicken poop attached to their dress shoes, so I can't see anyway around that. Mostly, if you don't use it, get rid of it. Do not get attached to STUFF!!!!

Sew a washcloth onto a towel. Color code the towel. Hang hooks. Each child has his/her towel. That's it. A few for you and Daddy. Color code cups. Use socks with colored bottoms per child or better yet, Old Navy socks have ages written on them. These things have simplified our lives.

We've also color coded hangers. We have two bedrooms upstairs - one for girls, one for boys. Two small dressers. All shirts get hung up. If they go with a sweater they get hung up together. All kids age two and up know how to put away clothes. All kids age five and up know how to hang up clothes. They KNOW their color. This is useful when you have four girls sharing one closet that has a bar on it only about three feet long.

I'd love to limit clothing more than we do, but they have to have good clothes and chore clothes and the chore clothes get super dirty so wearing them more than one day, not an option.

What else are you thinking?
couldn't have said it better myself!
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Old 04-06-2009, 08:24 AM   #9
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Re: help me downsize the stuff

I meant to reply to several of these responses. Thank you! I keep reading them and working towards our simplification. Somehow as much as I want this, I struggle to get there (and stay there!). I've about decided simplification has to be a lifestyle rather than an event. Especially with the much appreciated hand-me-downs and grandparent purchases that flow into the house.

I just consigned and sold 300 items when I did change of season...clothes and toys. There is still too much in the drawers though-clothes, towels, dishes, toys. It's taking me repeated rounds to par stuff down. I wish I could be more brutal with the purging!

I know part of my struggle is seeing $$ in the stuff. Consigning is great and I'll love the check but it's a lot of work and holds back progress.

Thanks again for sharing what works for you. It's an encouragement and challenge to me to read!
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Old 04-18-2009, 09:55 AM   #10
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Re: help me downsize the stuff

Right now I would LOVE to downsize clothes, but we have a dairy farm and we need two sets of clothes for everybody. I do go through the toys periodically and get rid of the junk and broken stuff. One thing that Ilike doing is bringing about a third of our toys to the cellar. If the kids don't even realize its gone I throw it away. Then in a couple of months I bring back up the toys and bring down different ones. The kids think its great to get "new" toys every few months!
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