Day 304 Should I stay or should I go?

A guest post by Cindy Bogard

Darling you got to let me know
Should I stay or should I go?
If you say that you are mine
I’ll be here ’til the end of time
So you got to let me know
Should I stay or should I go?

The Clash

Should it stay or should it go? Who hasn’t asked that during their decluttering efforts? One things I think we need to keep in mind while decluttering is the future usefulness of an item. Now I’m not trying to enable those who say, “Perhaps I can use it later…My sister’s husband’s next-door neighbor might want it … You just never know ….” I’m talking about hanging onto things, possibly things you haven’t used in a while, if you can clearly identify a time when you anticipate using them and if you can store them without inconvenience.

In an earlier post, Colleen identified one of these circumstances in her life. In anticipation of her daughter moving out of the house, Colleen had saved housewares she no longer needed to help her daughter set up he first household. Yes, the items were stacking up (in boxes in the garage, as I recall), but they had a purpose, just not quite yet.

Recently I’ve tangled with a few of these objects. The closet in the girls’ bathroom is a storage closet. One shelf is for their towels, and the rest is general household storage, including our soft camping equipment (sleeping bags, air mattresses).

Dan and I talked about everything I thought was extra, and he agreed, it should all go. It was me who hesitated when the time actually came. First I pulled down all the camping equipment. Remember, this is for 4 people: 4 sleeping bags, 4 air mattresses, 2 sleeping pads, 2 tents (and neither is the big family tent that we use when we camp). Hmmm, a bit overstocked, and I must tell you, I was shocked to find two tents. One was my two-person tent from before Dan and I were married (unused for the past 12 years), and the other one was a mystery to me … even to Dan! I immediately thought that I should get rid of both tents and the two extra sleeping pads, although I really wanted to hang onto my tent, which was quite expensive and very nice, almost sentimental clutter, I think you could say. But, more than what you need is clutter, right? So out it should all go.

I sure was grateful that stuff was still in the house when I got an email about a week later letting me know that it was time for Ranch Romp, a weekend camping trip of the 5th and 6th grades. The teachers needed two-person tents, and since the girls would be carrying in their gear, sleeping pads rather than air mattresses. In addition, since Clara has diabetes, I would come out to the camp in the evening and spend the night to monitor Clara’s overnight sugars. Suddenly, I needed a two-person tent and two sleeping pads.

Clara and I checked all the gear: The mystery tent was missing stakes. The remaining tent and the two sleeping pads were fully functional, despite age, probably because they are high quality goods and stored in the house, rather than the hot garage or attic.

Ranch Romp was a great success, and I continued musing over these extra camping items. “Should I stay or should I go?” It occurred to me that since my family goes camping twice a year with a group of five other families, and the oldest girls are now approaching 11, they would probably love to have a tent all to themselves soon. Sure, it’s not necessary, but it’s fun and, for them, another step toward independence. I decided that since Clara will go on Ranch Romp one more time and then Audra will go twice, the extra gear is well worth keeping. Five years ago, maybe not, but I hung onto it long enough (before I knew better, of course), and now I can see a need for it. (Except the mystery tent. Out it goes.)

If I didn’t have these things, would I have been heartbroken when Ranch Romp came around? No, other parents or the school could provide the tents, and Clara and I could have slept without sleeping pads, but I did have them. For now, I see the future usefulness of these items, even though they had been unused for a decade. All this camping equipment is stored on just one shelf, and it’s not creating clutter, preventing me from accessing other items, or falling on my head when I open the door.

I think if you’re in a toss-up about something ask yourself (and answer honestly) “Even though I haven’t used this in the past decade, can I identify a specific time in the future when I will use this again?” If you’re still stymied, move onto other, move obvious choices. You can always swing back around later, and maybe you’ll realize that what seemed like a “Should I stay?” is really a “Should I go?” Don’t worry overly about making a wrong choice; although The Clash sings “If you say that you are mine / I’ll be here ’til the end of time,” your stuff doesn’t need to be.

Decluttered from Cindy’s today: an ice cream ball and rock salt, donated to a neighbor.

ITEM 304 0F 365 LESS THINGS

These candles are a little too ugly now to put out on display and they were just hiding away in a cupboard so they can go

Candles

5 Things I am grateful for today

  1. That Liam had a good morning even if doing graffiti on his bed sheets is a little naughty. It was his friends that gave him the marking pen not me.
  2. All the support of family, fellow bloggers, my reader friends, our family friends, strangers and anyone who has sent kind words and messages of support and prayers.
  3. That Rachel in bed 10 showed signs of awaking from her sleep today after two weeks. It was wonderful to see the happiness on the faces of her family and friends.
  4. Liam’s wonderful friends who come to see him as often as they can and treat him like nothing has happened. Liam is always in a better frame of mind when they are around.
  5. That my husband has a month off work so we can get through this together.

Continue reading with these posts:

  • Day 315 What Motivates You to Declutter? A guest post by Cindy Bogard What motivates you to declutter? Why are you doing it? I was thinking about this questions for myself and came up with these reasons, immediate and […]
  • Mini Mission Monday Welcome to the first Mini Mission Monday at 365lessthings. Since I have already given you a list of mini missions to work on this week I have decided to give you one mission to think about […]
  • Positive attitude to decluttering Here is a great comment from Kimberley that I didn't want anyone to miss... "Selling vs. Donating….. When we acquire an item, there was an obvious need for us to do so, real or […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.

Comments

  1. So glad your son is moving . . . naughtiness is a fantastic sign of life! Big hugs to you from California. Good luck to you and your family this week.

    • Thanks Eve,
      please keep wishing good things for him I am sure it gives him a better chance to recover. He had a good day yesterday and lets us know that he was having pain in his back most of the time which we can now get them to pay more attention to. I broke my tail bone when giving birth to my daughter so I know how uncomfortable back fractures can be and how long they can take to heal.

  2. Great post, Cindy! Sometimes I will put stuff in a box, label the box and put it away with the date on it. If it doesn’t get opened in 12-18 months, I know I can let it go.

  3. I sure like the sound of Liam and the graffiti and feeling better when his friends have been around. That’s like totally normal young person s**t and I just bet it’s made your day 🙂

    Believe me, the good wishes haven’t stopped from this side of the Other Pond!

    Cindy, that is great that you have an excellent smaller tent and I think it isn’t clutter at all to keep something that is so obviously useful for your lifestyle, especially with the quickly-growing girls. It sure wouldn’t have been useful in mine, as my son used to think camping was a sleeping bag on a friend’s living room floor after a night of Nintendo ;D

    • Hi Meg,
      The other night I asked Liam if he had any pain and he said “Yes, it’s a pain in my a** being stuck in the s**t hole” so there are signs that the old Liam is still in there just waiting to pop out.

      Liam’s idea of camping is the same as your son’s. At one stage there seemed to always be some other kid in the living room every week-end. The only time they would get up was to go to the bathroom or forage for food.

  4. Go Liam!!!

    Bobbi

  5. I’m thinking that the nurses are snickering and secretly cheering over the graffiti on the sheets. Any little sign of humor or playfulness is encouraging.

    Cindy, this was another great post. I’m thinking through several items right now. A couple were tossed in the giveaway bag today–my husband let go of the barometer/temperature gauge we haven’t used in several years, and I finally gave up on a dish of decorative rocks I never look at anymore.

  6. Glad to hear your son is enjoying company, Colleen. That’s a great sign!

    Really liked your post, Cindy. This logic is helpful: if you truly do have a near-future, specific use for an item and have the space to store it, it’s not clutter and I’m not an idiot for keeping it.

    I especially liked this thought:
    “If you’re still stymied, move onto other, more obvious choices. You can always swing back around later…”

    This avoids having the overall process coming to a grinding halt over one difficult choice, which is something that often happened to me in the past. Sometimes I couldn’t even get the process started at all because that one decision loomed in front of me and I hadn’t figured out that I could set it aside.

    • Glad you were helped. Sometimes we do trip ourselves up, dont’ we, when the solution may be obvious to others, but somehow not to us.

  7. Wonderful to hear about Liam’s progress, it certainly made me chuckle. Wishing everyone many more good and fun updates like this.

  8. Colleen, I had to laugh when reading that Liam had written on his bed sheets. So typical of a boy isn’t it? It must have done your weary heart good to observe that your boy was coming back. Still thinking of and praying for you, your family, and Liam.

    Cindy, Good post as long as someone like me doesn’t use it as an excuse for holding on to several items instead of removing them. LOL