Getting Rid of Stuff

Do you have stuff that you know you should get rid of?  If so, then this Creative Solution is for you.

My cousin Theresa messaged me the other day: a truck was coming to take her donations, and she asked for any words of wisdom.  What I admire about Theresa is that she is really grounded in her reality.  So as I offered suggestions for…

  • How to determine what to keep
  • What to consider selling
  • How to develop practices to keep up the donating

…she knew right away what would and wouldn’t work for her.  So as I offer my Five Suggestions for Getting Rid of Stuff, feel free to adapt them into your own Creative Solution.

Tip 1: Visualize the Space You Want

Start with the space you have.  

  • What is your current storage solution?
  • What is working for you?
  • What is not?

Then, visualize the space you want: less clutter, less stuff you don’t need, more space to give attention to the stuff you really use and love. Let that vision be your guiding principle.  

Tip 2: Adult Clothing 

When you have limited closet space, it’s a good idea to rotate through a seasonal wardrobe.

Storage Bins

I use two 18 gallon plastic Rubbermaid bins – one for my husband and one for me.

When I change seasons, I get excited about being able to wear certain clothes. Changing seasonal wardrobes is a really good time to set things aside to donate.  The three criteria that I use are:

  1. If I don’t LOVE it, donate it.
  2. If it doesn’t fit right (and doesn’t have the reasonable expectation of fitting for a long time), donate it.
  3. If I don’t actually wear it, donate it.

Storage Hangers

One way to determine what you actually DO wear is to turn all your hangers around so the hook is hanging backwards. Once you wear it, turn it right side (hook facing in). After a while, use that “unworn” criteria to prompt you to donate.

If you’re nervous about donating something that you “might need one day,” then get a special “purgatory” container that stores clothes and shoes for no more than 2 years. If you haven’t worn it in 2 years, it’s probably not gonna happen. Get rid of it. In years and years of doing this, I have only regretted one decision (donating a pair of black flats).

Storage BasketsI purchased these baskets from Michael’s to increase and organize storage space in my closet.  I like how tall they are… lots of stuff can get thrown in there.  I also like that they are opaque, so I can’t see the stuff (so my closet looks very neat, clean, and organized).  My “purgatory” clothing container is the middle basket on the top shelf.

Tip 3: Kids Clothing

Determine a place for “kids-clothes-that-don’t-fit” so that as they inevitably grow and you notice something not fitting them, it gets removed from the wardrobe rotation and put into the donate (or hand-me-down) pile. Lots of kids will toss what they don’t want to wear (or what doesn’t fit) into the laundry (so it’s not in the closet/bureau as an option). Some kids (like mine, for instance) need to be disavowed of this practice.  We also have a bin for “ruined” and “not-my-favorite” clothing that should be used as “art smocks.”

On their closet shelves, I have a variety of bins, including one for outgrown-clothing and another for art smocks.  When you constantly have a designated place to store these items, it takes a lot of the prep effort out of donating/off-loading the stuff.


Under-the-bed storage is also an option for donations-in-waiting.  We use our under-the-bed storage for the kids’ out-of-season and will-fit-into-this-size-next-growth-spurt clothes.  Pro-tip: measure your bed height before buying one of these.

Closet 2

Tip 4: Toys

Before any new toys come in to the house (like Christmas or birthdays), have the kids “make room for new toys” by determining which ones they don’t LOVE. Getting the kids involved with donating their old toys to “children in need” is a good practice of charity to get into. I am also a HUGE fan of Craigslist, buying and selling whatever toys I can at more than half the retail value. So, if the kids have a toy that they’d like to SELL and use that $$ to purchase whatever new/used thing, I’m all for it.  I keep a Rubbermaid bin in the garage for Craigslist and garage sale-able items.

Should I sell or can I just donate?” Many people have a hard time with selling items; it creates another time-consuming step.  Here’s the thing: do what you need to do.  I often have more time than money, so buying and selling used toys works best for me.  Find the Creative Solution that works for you.  If you struggle with having the time to offload the stuff, consider using one of the donation places that come to you.

Closet 3

When my kids were younger, I would rotate the toys in and out of the playroom.  You know how kids go through cycles of interest?  They’ll play with it daily and then not touch it for a while.  You know they’re not done with the toy, but it’s taking up precious shelf space.  So, I would store these toys in clear plastic bins in the attic.  Every so often–like every 3 months or so–we’d rotate the toys.  Rotating toys keeps interest fresh.  My kids would act like it was Christmas morning all over again.   And on a daily basis, there was less stuff and more room to play.  If a toy was undesired for a couple cycles, it was time to sell or donate it.

Now that they’re older, we still have some toys (like Lincoln Logs) that are only played with every-so-often.   We’re not ready to get rid of them, but because they’re not regularly played with, they don’t get precious shelf space in the playroom. Toys that have a place in the playroom are toys that get played with daily.  My b-list toys formerly lived in my attic, and are now in a hall closet.   The kids understand that we only have “SO MUCH” space, so we can only have “SO MANY” things taking up that space.

What about saving toys for future grandkids?” I tend not to get sentimental about toys, so I haven’t set aside any of my kids’ old Thomas the Trains for future grandkids to play with.  We’ve taken pictures for memories.  Instead of storing these toys, I prefer to sell them and will happily buy pre-owned toys when that time comes.

If you want to keep certain toys for sentimental reasons, here are some tips:

  • Be realistic about the actual storage space you have; limit the amount of space you’re willing to give to sentimental-toy-storage.
  • Long-Term Sentimental-Storage needs to be out of the way so that it doesn’t interfere with short-term, daily life function.

Tip 5: Trash

Throw out any toys that are broken. Throw out tchotchkes – the crap they get as party favors that never gets played with outside of that 15 min ride home post-party. Just trash it. And never look back.

Some parents attack the playroom or bedroom with a big green trash bag while the kids are away or asleep.  Most note that kids do not miss the broken/crap toys.  Feel empowered to do what you need to do.

However, if you’d like to throw a little Love and Logic into the mix, consider using the enforceable threat: “You can clean the playroom your way [by ___ time/date], or I can clean it my way.”  Demonstrate to the kids that there are consequences of not cleaning: if you don’t pick up after yourself, you lose the privilege of choosing what stays and what goes.

What Works for You?

Do you have a Creative Solution for getting rid of stuff?  Leave a comment and let us know what it is and why it works for you!