Conquering the Clutter

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Here in North Florida, the “cold” weather (okay, you must first know that I consider 40 degrees extremely cold) has subsided and we have our first sunny, 70 degree day of the Spring Season. There is nothing like cranking up the music, throwing open your windows on a Saturday morning and digging in to the cracks and crevices (or numerous junk drawers that overtake your kitchen) of your home.

Today, with broom in one hand and a big green garbage bag in the other, I set out to conquer the clutter we accumulated in the last year and a half (I am amazed at how much we can accumulate in such a short period of time).

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Most military families have a natural “purging” cycle and it usually coincides with the PCS move. Well before we receive Orders in hand, I can usually be found digging through the boxes in the garage, passing along pretty dresses that no longer fit my girls, and making numerous trips to Goodwill.

There is something freeing about getting rid of all the junk, isn’t there? Of course, it doesn’t start off as junk. Like those shot glasses from the 2004 Supply Corp Ball, or those ten copies of Orders we needed to carry with us on our last move. All those beautiful finger paintings from our children’s preschool days….ah the mess!!!!

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And can I ask you….what are we to do with broken sticked American flags? These are the things I hang on it, because I don’t know what to do with them.

Can I make some suggestions as you undertake the de-cluttering of your home? And I offer these suggestions to you as one who has carted boxes of expired strawberry jello from one Continent to the next, I kid you not. For any of you who have lived in places like La Maddalena Italy or Singapore as I have, you understand the hoarding tendencies of those who shop at said Military Commissaries. Never knowing when you might see the next delivery of Hershey’s syrup, one tends to hang on to expired products long after the FDA deems them safe for consumption.

And so, as you can see, I am by no means an expert and still I offer these tips:

***don’t be afraid to throw things away
If I am being honest, my husband gets very nervous when he sees me with green garbage bag in hand, and he secretly scurries around the house hiding all of his prized possessions, petrified that I might consider his old baseball jersey today’s trash. But, people, the garbage is your friend. Or better yet, give gently used items to Goodwill or the Vietnam Veterans of America, Pick Up Please program, that aids American Veteran’s AND they pick up donations right from your home. How much easier can it get??

The Fruits of my labor

The Fruits of my labor

***Say it with me….if you haven’t used it during your current duty station, there is no reason to take it to the next
I have, currently sitting in my garage, a box that spent the last (almost) two years in said garage. Before that it was in long term storage for three years while we were overseas. Before THAT, I’m pretty sure it sat sitting in yet another garage in Virginia. In it, is a glass jar of sharks teeth that my son and I collected on a North Carolina beach (4 duty stations ago), some power cords that I’m pretty sure connect to our long gone VCR, and mini blinds that I think once belonged to my grandmother. I think I am emotionally ready to make the Sunshine State its final resting place.

***shred, shred, and shred some more
All those orders, welcome packets, bulletins from Change of Commands, retirement and re-enlistment ceremonies. We could wallpaper a house!! All I can say is….shred!!!

***Here is a great tip a friend of mine shared with me. I personally have not followed through on said idea, but do as I say, not as I do, and all that!!!! Take pictures of your child’s artwork, penmanship and other sentimental paperwork that you want to save and file them on your computer. What a great way to capture their hard work while throwing away what could end up being boxes and boxes of tracings of their cute little hands, made in to turkeys.

***Be honest! Are you really going to read that favorite Novel for a second time? This is my weakness people, so I am talking to myself. If I had it my way, my home would look more like a library than a place to call home. But books collect dust and don’t usually get read a second time. Some of course you will not be able to part with. But that great beach read from last summer? Pass along for one of your friends to enjoy!!!! I love sharing great books and they make great gifts for friends recovering from illness or for your friend moving to the other side of the world who needs a good book (or two) for that 21 hour flight!!!

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So there you have it. My not so perfected way of conquering the clutter! It sure does make you feel like you’ve accomplished something. And to reward my very productive day, I am going to sit down with a big glass of milk and a sleeve of thin mints, flip on my pre-recorded episode of Chicago Fire and enjoy the sound of my husband power washing the house!!! Hey, I did my part!!!

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