When In Doubt, Get Rid Of It

When in doubt Get rid of it

This post was originally posted on February 12th, 2013, but it is worth a read as you prepare for the next 91 Day Declutter Challenge.

While I take a minute to share an organizing thought, my 3 week old baby is sleeping peacefully next to me. I love hearing his little sleeping sounds. The last 3 weeks have mostly been a beautiful, sleepless blur, with plenty of bumps in the road. There are a few thoughts that have stood out to me and today I am going to share one with you.

As we struggled through infertility before my recent pregnancy, one way I attempted closure was to slowly purge the baby equipment remaining from my older children. Over time, we got rid of everything except one item I kept in case. It was a baby bouncer seat. The day finally came when I was ready to gift the bouncer to another family, so I loaded it in my minivan to drop off the next time I was out.

Ironically, that same day I decided to take a pregnancy test. I wouldn’t have even taken the test if my husband didn’t suggest it, because I had given up all hope. I was hosting a baby shower at my house that day. Friends had already started arriving when I snuck away to the bathroom really quick to take the test. I knew I’d enjoy the shower more if I could officially squelch any distracting thought that I might be pregnant, because I truly expected the test to be negative. Next to me now is the proof that the test was positive.

After the baby shower, I went to my minivan and took the bouncer out. You would think that this is a happy ending and a case for keeping a plethora of things just in case, but that is not the end of the story.

Since we’ve brought our baby home, we’ve been unable to lay him flat to sleep because of his reflux  One day it occurred to me that we could use the bouncer as an inclined place to sleep. Perfect! And I thought maybe the vibration will help him feel like he is being held, because this baby is happy as long as he is being held.

Unfortunately, the battery compartment had completely ruined in the 5 years since it was last used. The vibration was so important to me that I went ahead and bought a new bouncer seat that day. We’ve dragged our used bouncer seat that is large and awkward through a move and it has taken up unnecessary space for a long time, all the while it was self-destructing because we accidentally left batteries in it. Not to mention, the wear and tear that came to it when my kids found it and crawled all over it and bent some parts beyond repair. And because I tried to keep it, the seat was deprived of actually being useful for someone else in the meantime. We would have been better off to sell it or donate it the instant we were done using it, while it was still in excellent condition and someone else could have gotten more use out of it.

There is so much stuff all over our homes that we are keeping in case, and these things are lowering in value every second they aren’t being used by someone who would appreciate them. By the time we get around to decluttering them (the time will come), they are completely useless. Clothes being given to the needy are so much more useful if the clothes are still in style. And that doesn’t apply to just clothes. So many things lose relevance the longer we wait.

I already know I’m going to get emails and comments about all the reasons you should keep this or that, trying to prove the purging principle incorrect. Go ahead, I love to hear from my readers, even when you disagree. However, I’ll go ahead and say that certainly I understand some things make sense to keep in case, but what I’m referring to are those things that WE KNOW SHOULD GO. I think you can all close your eyes and think of something you have kept long enough. When in doubt, get rid of it!!

Do you watch those antique reality shows? Do they make you think the junk in your house is increasing in value? My guess is that 99.9% of your junk will never be remembered or missed! And really, the other .01% is worth being a casualty. Some casualties are okay.

It is impossible to truly organize a space without purging and removing excess. What are you holding onto that needs to go? Go ahead, get rid of it!

Happy purging,


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68 thoughts on “When In Doubt, Get Rid Of It

  1. I so understand everything you just said. I really have held on to way too much stuff JUST IN CASE. Clothes I’ll never wear, sentimental junk that makes me uncomfortable and stressed out because of the clutter rather than making me feel a warm memory, the list goes on and on. I am starting to get rid of it. All of it. Each piece that leaves makes me feel so much better. Thanks for posting. (hugs)

  2. I am always trying to find space in our home, and it feels like a losing battle. I plan to make changes today & I cant wait to explore your other posts. Thank you SO much for sharing! !

  3. Totally agree. I have six kids and have given away many items in the interim, not knowing if the next one would come or not. So that means I have probably purchased 3 exersaucers, 3 high chairs, 2 baby swings, 2 cribs, but…that’s ok. I had the same issue where I did keep an item or two and then couldn’t use it. Give it away! You can always buy another, even it is your own back at someone else’s yard sale!!

  4. I used to struggle with this (still do every once in a while). Up until a couple of years ago, I had every piece of clothing that my then 8 year old had ever worn. I had kept it so long that a lot of the baby stuff was out of style. I managed to sell a lot at a consignment sale and donated what didn’t. I have kept of few outfits that have very special meaning but everything else gets sold or donated. My theory about this is “if God blessed me once with this, he will bless me again should I need it a second time”.

  5. Thank you!!! I have been struggling lately with the decision of getting rid of outgrown baby clothes and baby gear. My baby is three years old and we are having some fertility problems of our own. This totally confirmed that I’m doing right thing passing it on

  6. Clothes that I kept “just in case” I fit into them again. This post so convinced me to just move it. My loss will be someone else’s gain. Love your post. :-)

  7. The Lord always provides for our needs. I finally realized after our 7th of nine (slow learner) that I didn’t need to hold on to clothes, or stuff for that matter, for future babies. Thinking I was being frugal, I saved it all for future children. But then, generous friends and neighbors, even complete strangers, would give us clothes and baby gear. Most of these kind folks had one or two children and the clothes were in better condition than anything I had saved. In terms of young adult/adult clothing, I realized too late that even if I or my teens would wear it, by the time I finally passed it on, no one would be caught dead in it. So I should have just kept giving it all away as I went along. The Lord always provides, usually through others. I finally learned to pass things on, and He blesses others as He has blessed us. Still working on my attic, though! Thanks for your posts. All helpful. :)

  8. “And because I tried to keep it, the seat was deprived of actually being useful for someone else.” This one sentence says it all. Thank you.

  9. Excellent post! We just moved over the summer. We had been prepping and decluttering for a year in anticipation. Nothing new- uncluttered house sells! It sold in under 2 weeks, it would have been 1 day had the buyer financing not fallen through!
    We dutifully got a storage unit and diligently packed only what we thought we would need/want/ couldn’t live without and would use in the new larger house. We kept the Holiday stuff, the camping stuff and got rid of a LOT of stuff. But now the house has been sold and we are biding our time in a small apartment while bigger house is being built.We have decided to start purging again from the storage unit. Aside from the bulky holiday stuff and camping gear and a few pieces of heirloom furniture that will have a home in the new house- we are going to PURGE IT DOWN!! Starting tomorrow, our goal is to go through a few boxes every week, whether at the storage unit directly or bring back to the uncluttered apartment where we will have no choice but to deal with it. We have about another 5 months to go, give or take. I think we can do it. I think now that we have lived without it a year, and want the next move to go smoothly, we are definitely motivated to get rid of more stuff. So yeah- when it doubt- GET RID OF IT!!! WhoooHOOOO!

  10. I’ve got to get rid of things I keep hoping my family will finally get involved in, like board games. Never gonna happen! So your thoughts on giving it to someone while timely and in good shape strikes a note. To those of you purging knickknacks or items to which you are emotionally attached, a great idea is to take photos of the items and make/put in a photo album with the important info. It actually works wonderfully to purge, help you remember, and also be able to share with others who might like them, like family… And you don’t have to dust them!

  11. Thanks for your wise words. I think it makes sense to give things away when we have finished with them to bless others…. and if we need them again in the future God will provide. He provides for all our needs!

  12. Your beautiful little miracle aside, what stood out to me was saying some other child would have benefitted if you had given the bouncy seat away immediately. It echoed a homily given over 20 years ago where Father Gonzo (a loving nickname) said it was a sin to keep things that someone else could use. What we keep in our homes should should be used regularly or add to the beauty of our homes. Often left unseen are the family treasures – the family baptismal gown, the outfits each baby came home in, etc. These keepsakes should be worked into the decor, ideally, to be enjoyed daily. However, when items of any nature cease being useful, there should be a rule-of-thumb for the disposal thereof. Baby items that can be recycled through garage sale or donation to friend/family/charity should go as soon as baby is done with these. Exceptions might be made for big ticket items, like the crib, car seat, etc. especially during the childbearing years. This will also depend upon your storage space. A case could be made for not keeping any of the expensive stuff because the safety technology improves constantly. Maybe so, but a safe car seat from 2 years ago is better than nothing. And it would allow you to save up the $500 for a new one.

    I’m also reminded of a tragic story from my childhood. I hope I haven’t told this community before, and bear with me if I have. I planned for months to have an English tea for me and my girlfriends as a graduation party from high school. My grandmother, who was 86 at the time, offered to let me use her Belgium lace tablecloth for the party. I had no idea she had one, and of course I wanted to use it. She kept it in her Hope chest, which was a cedar chest. She explained that it had been a wedding present so many years ago. She had never used it because she was saving it for a special occasion. Oh, it was beautiful. But it ruined over the years. From not being used, the fabric had rotted and given way at every fold. I was stunned and horrified. I recall my words to this day. “What are you saving this for? To be buried in?!” I resolved that very day I would prefer to damage something from using it and enjoying it instead of storing it away. Sorry to be so long winded. Thank you, Mary, for your writing and helping us clutter junkies get our act together!

    1. Wow. All of this so true. Reminds me of all the fancy dishes and cups and saucers to be used “some day” Just wish I knew who to donate them to!

      1. Exactly!!! My daughters make the table every Sunday and I encourage them to use the best tablecloths, even when we eat spaghetti. What is the point of nice things that aren’t used?!

  13. I have a two-year-old son and will be divorced soon. At this point in life, I have no possibility of future children. I have been hanging onto his baby stuff because of “just in case” hopes for later. For a while now, I have been thinking I need to get give it to someone, sell it, or donate it so that it can be used instead of sitting in tubs (in someone else’s garage). During the 91 day de-clutter, these are many of the items that will go as I come across them. He will also be moving to a “big boy” bed so this puts my mind at peace to give it away. Thanks! I am excited to get started!

  14. One day last week my pipe a froze and it actually made me declutter my closet which was something I plan on doing. So now that’s one less thing to declutter! I look forward to this challenge ever year. And since I have found you site it helps makes things a little easier. The love the print outs, reading your blog and help with organizing because i needed it more thought… lol thanks!

    1. I’m sorry about the frozen pipe. That has happened to me before too. Not fun, but I’m glad you see the silver lining!

      And thank you for your kind words! I love doing this challenge too!

  15. Thank you for this article. We had several losses after the birth of our son and after the last one, decided not to TTC again. I slowly started to get rid of the baby things. For some reason it was REALLY hard for me to get rid of my boppy nursing pillow and rocking chair. The boppy was torn and stained, the rocking chair needed to be reupholstered badly. Getting rid of those two things was rough in the moment, but as soon as they were gone, I felt peace. The last of his old toys are boxed up and going to goodwill tomorrow. Bittersweet, but we are ready for a fresh start.

    1. It is bittersweet, and it is hard, let yourself feel that. Those are very valid emotions for what you’re going through! But the fresh start will be worth it. Hugs to you!!!

  16. It is so freeing to get rid of things that just clutter your space. The hardest part is getting my husband on board but as far as my stuff and my children’s stuff I am doing my best. I am sentimentally attached to some things I know I shouldn’t be but we are purging toys!

  17. I was able to pare down baby clothes to a few “special” outfits (that I’m now rethinking about ) and a box of 0-3 type clothes. Jammies and such that we’d need right away when I was too tired to go shopping. How wonderful it felt to hand the box to a church friend who’s daughter was pregnant and struggling.

    Now that I think about it, all of it could have been purchased during the 3-6 month window when I always felt great.

  18. I’m having trouble deciding where to send some declutter items. Several years ago, I started adding collector Barbies to my world dolls collection. I have a set of Wizard of Oz Barbies (minus the Wicked Witch, i have all the other dolls.) They are brand new in the box, never opened. I tried to sell them on a few local FB yard sale sites but they went unsold. These are too nice to just give to GoodWill and I missed the Toys For Tots Drive. What would you do or suggest ?

    1. Have you tried eBay? It seems someone would want those, but you may have to widen your reach of who can see them for sale. Otherwise, maybe the Boys & Girls club?

  19. I just got rid of two huge tubs full of baby clothes. Hubs and I feel we are done having babies. It was hard to give them away though. Something about the finality of it. But I am super glad to give them to a family who needed and really appreciated them rather than selling to a second hand store. I did save out a few special things. Perhaps for grand babies one day?!

    1. I have a small (very small) canvas container of my favorites. I’m actually very sentimental, but I’ve learned how to honor my sentimental side while keep the clutter in control. I think you will find that balance is very rewarding.

  20. I guess I’m a “clothes hoarder” ;-)…I have 3 kidz ages 13, 9, 2 & still have ALL their clothes from newborn to now! We live in a small 3 bedroom house so now the boxes of clothes are not only in all the closets, but also our outside shed too just waiting to be sold in a garage sale…

    so I guess…how do u decide when to sell if u need $ or to jus donate?

    1. It is a hard truth, but all of those clothes you are storing are going down in value every second they are out in storage. When you pull them out, they may not be worth what you think they are. If you need $, try to sell it all now, but donate anything that does not sell with a hard deadline for yourself.

  21. I have 7 year old twins, B&G, so I kept thinking, I need to keep everything, in case we have another, I’ll have everything! Since then, I realized that unless I have another baby the same time as the twins, the clothes won’t fit! I finally purged over 40 tubs of clothes, toys, shoes, etc. I even still had my 7 year old breast pump! It felt amazing to yard sale 1/3, consignment shop 1/3 & give the last 1/3 to the crisis nursery in our area! Now we have a little more room to move in our basement! Thanks for the encouragement & reminders! I’m ready to try your challenge.. Knowing I won’t be perfect & that’s ok, too.

  22. Hi Mary! You are so right! I gained some weight (ok, 50 lbs) a few years back. I kept all my favorite outfits, hoping to get back into them. Then one day, it dawned on me. If I ever do lose all that weight, I won’t want to wear old clothes, I’m going to want to go shopping! I did donate those clothes, and now that I’ve lost the weight, I’m really enjoying shopping and my new clothes!

    1. Yes! I find whenever I give myself the room to progress and change, I’m always more successful. Trying to force myself to be the person I used to be just doesn’t work.

  23. I’m new to your site and hoping to start the challenge. I agree with getting rid of many things we save for “just in case,” but I don’t know about baby stuff. I have 5 children around 2 years apart, and I seriously have saved a ton by keeping things. I am, however, hoping to start being more picky about what I keep. I can’t see myself getting rid of things like the crib, until I’m pretty sure we’re finished with it. Of course, it’s been in pretty much constant use so far!

    1. It really is so different for every person. You have to use your instinct, and if your home is over-run with clutter, maybe try to hone a new clutter instinct. It sounds like you’ve got a system that is working for you, and in the end, that is what matters.

  24. I love your posts! I have been hanging on to baby clothes for my son and daughter for sentiment reasons when i know I should just get rid of it! I cannot wait to start decluttering!

  25. It may seem silly, but a few weeks ago I brought a vintage picnic basket from the store-room with the intention of giving it to charity. As I was washing the (incredibly durable and beautifully coloured) plates, cups and cutlery, I had a change of heart and informed my husband I just wasn’t ready to let it go. This, in spite of the fact that it had been used so infrequently it was in mint condition. This past week, I accepted that we were never going to use this amazing item again. I added a brand new corkscrew to the contents of the basket and took it to the thrift store. I’m not sorry. :)

    1. I hope you have a lot of pleasant thoughts about the treasure someone is going to find at the thrift store and the memories they will make with that beautiful gift. Our things are just things, and they can have a beautiful life without us!

  26. My hubby is more of the pack rat then me. I am of the mindset, for the most part, I can get another (thank you God). There are folks worse off then me and sharing my bounty with those who are less fortunate. Face it we ALL have stuff we can part with and share with a friend/neighbor because we are holding onto it for whatever reason. I gave stuff away last September as a church in town was collecting (bundle weekend it was called). Then I gave more stuff in October to another organization. I’ve recently come across an organization who cares for two homeless shelters for women/children. Guess what? I’m going through stuff again and have many things to give to them as well! Hubby and I like to garage sale a lot and that causes stuff to come into the house more cheaply then when going to the store. Either way, I am blest and thank God for what all I have.

  27. Thanks Mary!!! I am trying to overcome the feeling to save things “just in case-i might need it” this article was a good wake-up call for me!!

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