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having a tough time letting stuff go

3scoutsmom3scoutsmom 5434 replies336 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5,770 Senior Member
It's been hard realizing that d16 will been moving out in less than two years but I'm having a harder time letting her younger brothers clean out their rooms! I don't know, maybe I have a border line hoarder disorder or something!

The dog got sick when we were out and we really have no choice but to completely replace the aging *white* builder grade carpets in half the house including both boys' rooms and the play room. To do this *everything* must come out of all rooms including closets. I was OK with weeding out all the out grown clothes and even boxing up out grown books (we really are past the Captain Underpants stage of life!), and can live with them donating about half their gaming stuff (Donkey Konga Drums and games, Skylanders, Guitar Hero's band and of course every remotely educational DS game) but I almost cried when my 13 year old put *every* stuffed animal from his room into the donate pile. Much to my dismay the boys also found several unused gift cards and even a few birthday checks that were never deposited, one son had two checks from 2011! He called his grandparents and apologized and they offered to send replacement checks though I think that's going over and beyond. What really shocked me was when all the Nerf guns showed up in the donate pile. I thought 13 and 15 year old boys would still be into Nerf guns! Next was the game shelves, they only what to keep four or five of 30 plus games!

I don't know why this is so hard on me. I was obsessive about toys when they where little. Loved getting online toy deals when eCommerce was both blooming and withering. I had to get rid of all their baby toys (little people, Thomas the train, Little Tykes...) when we moved from MA to TX and got rid of a substantial amount of toys few years ago (Rokenbok, Legos, dress up,...) but this is the last of it and it is just so hard for me! I thought one of the perks of having kids was getting to buy toys, I never thought about having to part with them when they grew up, both the kids and the toys....
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Replies to: having a tough time letting stuff go

  • atomomatomom 4618 replies41 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,659 Senior Member
    I understand how you feel--I have a hard time sorting through and getting rid of stuff. We've moved multiple times and my kids don't really have a TON of stuff, but we've been in this particular house for 6 years, and it is time to purge. I did save a few better baby/toddler toys that I can get out when friends/relatives with young kids visit. Saving them (and a few books/costumes/stuffed animals) for future grandchildren! I really don't like shopping or having a lot of stuff, but I have 7 kids, and they all get birthday and Christmas gifts, so that has added up over the years.
    I find the sorting process very depressing. Every item has memories attached to it (happy memories, mostly) and it is emotionally exhausting to experience them all. I wish someone else would do this job for me. I find the process unbearable--so I just avoid it. (If I could snap my fingers and make things disappear without looking at it, I would do it! I can easily sort someone else's stuff because I have no memories attached to it--it is just "stuff.")
    When I'm sorting my stuff, I can't avoid the constant thoughts that time passes too quickly, life is short, and I'm getting old. I wasn't able to stop and savor each moment, each age and phase of life, before it was gone.
    We just got rid of our family van that we've had for 10 1/2 years. H is laughing at me for getting all sentimental about that (broken down/towed away/donated) old ('99) clunker. It seems that when you've had an item for a long time, that the past is somehow still with you. When you get rid of it, you're throwing away the past and the memories of that period of time. That's how I feel anyway--as if the "younger me" and my "younger kids" are somehow reachable/present through continuous attachment to that item. When you get rid of that item and get something new, the clock resets, and you are no longer in touch with the past. Does this make any sense? I think it all comes down to dread of getting older/dying.

    I remember how fascinated I was with the very few toys my grandma had saved from my mom's childhood. I can see how my kids love playing with my (and my sibs') old toys at my parents' house. So I think it is worthwhile to save a few things "for the grandkids"--even if you're not sure if/when any will arrive.
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  • soozievtsoozievt 31372 replies371 discussionsRegistered User, ! Posts: 31,743 Senior Member
    edited December 2014
    3scoutsmom.......I hear you. Here is what I did, though my kids are now in their 20s...
    This past year, I made a major move that required downsizing and going through 36 years' worth of accumulated stuff for a family of four. We had saved everything practically, because we had a very large basement. In terms of the young adult kids, we had almost every toy, piece of clothing, stuffed animal, sports equipment, schoolwork, artwork, and book (had only given a little bit away over the years). It was hard to part with all this but this is what I did.....and by the way, I should mention that when my kids went to college, we never had them clean out their rooms, and never thought to do that but yet, they never returned to live at home, even for a summer once they entered college, and so this move also meant weeding through their rooms that looked like they still lived in them (think zillions of stuffed animals,trophies, awards, artwork, books, etc.). Both kids were living in other parts of the country. One kid flew across the country to help go through just her stuff for one weekend.

    Went through about 1000 books and chose favorites to save for potential grandchildren and boxed up all the rest to not keep. Went through all their clothes and gave most away but saved a few cute baby (first outfits, first dresses) and special occasion outfits to save for potential grandchildren. Went through all toys and gave away except wooden block set and a couple games and American Girl dolls/stuff to save for grandchildren (not that I have any yet). Went through tons of stuffed animals and saved certain special ones for potential grandkids and donated the rest. Saved first pair of skis and gave away all the rest of the sports equipment. Went through 12+ years of boxed schoolwork and saved one carton per kid of special papers they wrote and the like. Saved the art work in portfolios. Boxed up special memorabilia to save for each kid, including all awards and other mementos. So, you can see a pattern here. I gave away the majority of kids' things in each category but chose certain items to save that had the most meaning, as well as for grandchildren some day. So, if you can do that, you will at least have some things you save and will whittle it down and it won't be like it is ALL gone.

    Oh, and even though I downsized my living situation, I still had to rent a storage facility space for things I was saving. But it still is a lot less than we used to have!
    edited December 2014
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  • happymomof1happymomof1 29305 replies169 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 29,474 Senior Member
    edited December 2014
    There is nothing wrong with looking at the things your kids have rejected, and picking out a few that you have exceptionally fond memories of, and keeping those items.

    And if you suspect sacrificing the nerf guns now means that someone will be haunting Goodwill looking for them before six months are out, hanging on to them for a bit longer until the nerf gun stage truly is completely past may make good sense.
    edited December 2014
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  • rom828rom828 1473 replies42 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,515 Senior Member
    I can appreciate you being sentimental. I however am not at all. I have no trouble keeping the few treasures and giving/throwing the rest out.

    My H on the other hand...had possession of science projects from the 4th grade that his parents had saved and given him when they downsized and he stored in our attic. When we moved and were getting settled I asked him what he was planning for all of it. He said he thought our kids would want to see them. So I quickly called over our 8 and 11 year olds and let H show them all his stuff. They politely listened but were not that impressed. Unfortunately for my H they did not inherit the sentimental gene. He threw the stuff out and was fine.

    Some people are comforted by stuff they have had for a long time and it comes with attached memories. I get it. I just don't attach memories with things.
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  • katniss1katniss1 32 replies0 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 32 Junior Member
    You might want to hang onto those nerf guns : ). My daughter's bf is a freshman at college and nerf wars are rampant in his dorm!
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  • HarvestMoon1HarvestMoon1 6200 replies28 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 6,228 Senior Member
    One item I could never part with from my children's early years was Barney's Magic Banjo. They used to drive us crazy with that damn thing and when we had guests we would hide it - it was so irritating. Years later when I was going through their playroom to convert it to a game room, I could not bear to give it away. I still have it in drawer in my home office.
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  • colorado_momcolorado_mom 8818 replies78 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 8,896 Senior Member
    Sometimes it helps to take a photo. One small flat photo stores a lot more efficiently than big bulky toy(s).

    For the stuffed animals, you could kids to pick the favorite one or two to keep. I'm not at that point yet, but I have gotten rid of a boxful that I know were not special.
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  • PackMomPackMom 7650 replies17 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 7,667 Senior Member
    I saved each sons' favorite stuffed animal, the giant tub of Legos,the Matchbox cars and the original Super Nintendo and PlayStation..sort of like one thing from each phase of kid life. I also made a" birth to high school senior year" photo album/scrapbook for each son. There were pictures of every Christmas in the albums so all those toys are memorialized in the albums.

    Boys/men are truly not as interested or attached to that stuff the way women are.
    Both my sons are adults (25 and 28) now, employed and living their lives. The "stuff" is still in my attic. They looked at some of it when visiting for Christmas but did not have any desire to take it with them.
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  • LergnomLergnom 7737 replies189 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 7,926 Senior Member
    I went to the Container Store and got a large flat bins for each kid. I sat down and went through years of school art projects, random drawings, writings, fun things made, etc. and put them in that kid's bin. Then I put the name on the top and sealed it.
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  • psychmommapsychmomma 2944 replies43 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,987 Senior Member
    I understand the memories attached to things, too. I've kept Legos, playmobil, Thomas, American girl, and a few stuffed animals for the kids or grandkids. I also have school memorabilia files for each kid. If your kids readily parted with everything, and it isn't too late, I would keep a few select things for the future. I remember purging a lot of my stuff as an 18 year old that I later wished I had kept.
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  • Nrdsb4Nrdsb4 16664 replies156 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 16,820 Senior Member
    When we moved a couple of years ago, DH went crazy with the purging. On the one hand, it is quite liberating to get rid of so much of the "stuff" that we really don't need. On the other hand, he got so into it that he started selling stuff out of our house during our garage sale! I saw a lady walking down the driveway with our salt and pepper shakers and DH admitted that the rush of selling kind of got the better of him (he works on 100% commission and has for 30 years now).

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  • greenbuttongreenbutton 2603 replies117 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,720 Senior Member
    OP, I know! It felt like I had carefully crafted this childhood experience and fond memories, but they were just completely ok with jettisoning it! It's okay to grieve a little, and I did save things that I loved, even if they wanted to let it go. i actually sent them an old stuffed animal after they moved out, and they loved that.
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  • gouf78gouf78 7748 replies23 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 7,771 Senior Member
    edited December 2014
    I received a few wrapped toys from my childhood from my mom a couple years ago that she had saved for about 40 plus years. what a surprise!
    Don't ditch the nerf guns--may want them in college.
    My kids didn't want any stuffed animals either. I took all the ones I loved and stuffed them into a duffel bag that I purge every once in a while. Down to just a few favorites.
    edited December 2014
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  • JEMJEM 6046 replies578 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 6,624 Senior Member
    edited December 2014
    What I care the most about is the children's books -- I swear, a big reason I had our second child was so that I would be able to enjoy those books again! LOVE children's literature.

    When my D relocated to another city after grad school, I told her to take whatever of her belongings she wanted to keep and the rest would be fair game for me to handle as I wished. I still have not quite gone through all her things but am mostly done.

    The hand-made Halloween costumes were the toughest to part with, but of course we had pictures of them.

    I photographed all the trophies, then removed and kept their labels, and donated the bases/figures.

    I kept the books we most cared about (some given and inscribed by now deceased Grandma, my mother) in a plastic basement bin for future grandchildren. Now we are expecting that first grandchild and I am so looking forward to eventually sharing those books with the child! :D

    We kept a plain wooden toy chest in our family room for a few special baby and toddler toys. Also kept my son's Brio train set in a large plastic bin. All other toys purged.

    I had always retained baby books, awards, report cards, special letters and notes, and other memorabilia in plastic containers in a closet. Kept some early school projects as well, but only the meaningful ones that showed their personalities.

    Son, now engaged, will continue to live with us until his marriage and he is in his original boyhood room. I am pressuring him to go through it now to wean it of all except what he plans to take with him to his marital home.

    My goal is to gradually prepare for a future downsizing well in advance so there will be no panic later on. MUCH to do as H and I have LOTS to winnow out as well. (See "bag a week" thread!)

    @soozievt -- Hearty congrats to you as it sounds like you accomplished a massive task.
    edited December 2014
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  • rom828rom828 1473 replies42 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,515 Senior Member
    @JEM I'm with you on the books. I loved children's books and we have a great collection.
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