Does this look like a major haul from Black Friday or what? Actually it is the ghost of Black Fridays past. I just finished going through all the kids clothes, shoes, costumes, books and toys. This is the pile (minus three other bags) of items that left our possession today. Parcelling it out to the friends, the thrift store and the trash was so satisfying. The thought of finding a place in this rental for all this year’s bounty at the Stuff Mart makes me break out in much smaller hives than it did just one week ago.
Going through an entire toy room and three kids’ bedrooms including closets is daunting. I think in assessing the work, we have a hard time being objective because we have the same psychological reaction to culling and organizing the keepers and sorting and distributing the give-awayers that we did as children when our mom made us clean our room. Back then, the toyroom was a vast undulating ocean of mysterious objects our developing brains could not summarize, and the hours it would take to go through it all were a substantial fraction of our young lives. As an adult, cleaning out before Christmas isn’t that big a deal any more, but it still feels like it.
I told Fluffy I was going through all of her stuff and if she wanted any say in what stayed and went, she would have to do it with me. (The boys got no such consideration.) She made it through about 50% before she just couldn’t listen to Daddy playing Minecraft without her a moment longer. Fluffy really impressed me with what she was willing to pass along to others. A friend of ours had just pimped the boys’ Christmas morning to the max with a giant box of super cool Hess vehicles with all sorts of flashing, beeping, hidden-motorcycle-compartment action. In reference to that gift, Fluffy said, “We have to show our appreciation. If we just take and take and don’t give, that wouldn’t be nice.”
Now, I’m sure we’ve all cleaned and organized before, but if seeing the process in bullet points tames the childhood monster of Christmas cleaning that our imagination produces, it is worth framing that way.
Step 1: Gather Containers
For us that meant trash bags, gift bags, gallon Ziploc bags, sandwhich bags, a couple of boxes, and a multitude of crates.
Step 2: Sort into about 5 Piles or Containers
- Trash (Peek-a-boo books with all the flaps and covers ripped off, incomplete puzzles, maimed action figures, anything from a Happy Meal, clothes with holes, orphaned shoes, etc.) Trash Bags.
- Friend swap (Nice stuff that we’ve outgrown, but we don’t feel embarrassed to pass on to people who actually know us, like mostly intact princess costumes from former seasons.) Gift Bags.
- Thrift store (Okay stuff that we’ve outgrown, but we do feel too embarrassed to pass on to people who actually know us, like dolls with matted hair that we are unwilling to unmat, jeggings, etc.) Trash bags.
- Keep here (Stuff that goes in this particular thinger we’re cleaning.) Sort into crates/Ziplocs.
- Elsewhere (Stuff from the play kitchen that has migrated into the Lincoln Logs, etc.) Bag.
Step 3: Repeat
Move bags to the next area that needs to be cleaned. Go through the elsewhere bag at that location. Start sorting again.
Step 4: Flush
If you make it through Step 3, it’s awfully tempting to put all your bags back into the closet to age for a while, like, until the next time you move. Unnecessary. Slap it all onto the ramshackle sleigh, whistle for Max, and run those bags through the town to their final resting places. The point was to get it out of the house, right?
Step 5: Put That on Your Blog
Nothing feels real anymore until I’ve taken a picture and posted it. This is real folks.
A toy box full of space for new things:
Recipients enjoying girl stuff friend swap: