Winter is when I do my best organizing and purging.

For some reason – when I’m stuck in the house on the cold winter days, I get lost in cleaning out closets, purging the pantry and most of all… tossing things we just don’t use any more.

I think it started when the kids were small and Christmas was coming… I always felt the need to donate well loved toys so that come the new year we would have replaced them with shiny new toys. As the kids get older, their needs change and for whatever reason the purging still happens. It always feels good when I make more room in my closet – or clean off a shelf.

For many people, the struggle of what to keep or what to toss is always a hard choice (but still a choice). Sometimes it’s the tossing or “letting go” that plagues our hearts… I use the word toss loosely… for me, tossing something usually means it’s going into the garage sale pile first and then if not sold, it’s donated or recycled.

It’s a challenge even for me, when faced with making the decision to keep or toss, but I have a few rules in place to help me make that decision a little easier…

When it comes to cloths…

KEEP… if its a usable item, loved and won’t embarrass me in public. TOSS… if it doesn’t fit well, something I don’t like or embarrassing. [I just tossed an evening gown from 20 years ago that I just realized I will never be a size 8 again = felt good to let it go].

When it comes to the kids things…

KEEP… if it’s a first item, well done work or paper that my child is proud to show off. TOSS… if it’s unimportant, insignificant or one of twenty of the same items. [I just tossed many of the kids action figures, cars and board games they haven’t played with in years = made more room for a new family game.]

When it comes to household goods…

KEEP… if it works (or can be repaired), I use it regularly and serves a purpose. TOSS… if it’s un-repairable, I have never used it, don’t like it, or have multiples and don’t need extras. [Tossed a bunch of photo frames, multiple utensils, books, framed art that we don’t use, don’t like and kept from our old house that doesn’t really fit in our house now = made room to pick new art if we feel like it and cleared out a bunch of full drawers.]

When it comes to mementos or memorabilia…

KEEP… if it serves as a happy reminder of a special moment or milestone. TOSS… if it’s a negative reminder of a moment or milestone, or insignificant because I have multiples of the same items. [Although more difficult, I try to review this regularly. With kids art, I find letting them decide helps to narrow the decision down.]

It’s a great idea to sort, purge and organize on a certain schedule. Once a year seems to work best for me, but if it’s hard, overwhelming and too big of a job to get done, every six months sometimes helps to breakdown the task.

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