Sort It ~ Professional Organizing for the Toronto Area

School’s Out! (A Guest Blog Post)

I have been following fellow blogger Jen at Pursuing “Enough” for a few months now. She writes candidly about her battle with stuff, and all the fun things that contribute to it, like her kids. After a few comments back and forth on a post I wrote back in February (Can’t Touch This), I asked Jen to share her experience of putting that advice into practice. So, here we go:

I am learning that just because I am on a quest to simplify our family’s life, it doesn’t mean that anyone else is going to go along with it easily.  My son, especially, has such a tenderhearted, sentimental nature; it’s extremely hard—seemingly almost painful—for him to get rid of things.  When he was three, it was precious and charming:  “Mommy!  We can’t get rid of that book!  It has baby remembers all over it!”  Once he hit eight, it became a bit more ridiculous:  “But Mom!  My sister gave me those shoes for my birthday when I was five!  And I’ll never be five again!”

So once I discovered the “Sort It” site, I began a search:  how do I deal with a kiddo who is so overwhelmingly attached to “stuff”?  When I found a post titled “Can’t Touch This,” about encouraging those around you to get rid of their clutter, I knew I was on the right track; and I asked Liz for some specific advice about dealing with my overly-sentimental son.

Her words couldn’t have come at a better time.  The last day of school hit, and a year’s worth of “stuff” that had been stuffed into both my kids’ desks got shipped home to my kitchen counter.  I knew if we didn’t act quickly, it might live there for weeks.  So we got to work, and I got a chance to put her suggestions into practice.

One idea that went much better than I anticipated applied to one of his art projects.  She had commented that “if it is a large object, or something he seems particularly attached to, but needs to part with it for whatever reason (health, space, etc.), then take a picture of him with it. That way he can create a scrapbook of keepsakes without all the clutter.”  At the time, I’d laughed about the “health” reason, but I suddenly realized, looking at this “rain cloud” project, that we couldn’t very well hang it up in his room without aggravating his asthma at some point.  Our conversation about it was brief:

“What do you want to do with your cloud?”

“Keep it.”

“Um….where are you planning on keeping it?”  (The thing was huge.)


“How about if we take a picture of you with it, and you can keep that?”


Seriously?  Okay?  That’s it?  All right then, we’re on a roll….let’s keep it up.

I pulled out the blatant trash from his school box:  even he couldn’t argue that dried up, empty glue sticks were worth keeping.  He agreed to trash the junk, and we quickly got markers and crayons (and salvageable glue) back among all our art supplies here at home.

Another excellent suggestion, one I don’t always think about, is to have him not touch any of it.  “Hold it up for him to see and have him make the decision that way. People are more likely to let something go if they don’t touch it first.”  I strongly suspect that me holding up a nearly six-inch-thick stack of workbooks, notebooks, and folders made a huge difference in his response (“You can recycle it.”).  If he had held those objects in his hands, he would have flipped through each of those items individually, and I know without a doubt there would have been much discussion about their fate.

The pile disappeared before our eyes.  He did keep his giant name poster, choosing to hang it on a wall in his room.  The stash of notebooks, workbooks, and the rain cloud all hit the recycling bin.  Art supplies were put away where they belonged (okay, no, I didn’t check to see if all the markers worked—I’m sure we’ll figure that out over the next few weeks).  We kept two other art projects on display in the kitchen; we’ll make decisions about those after we enjoy them for a while.  My kitchen counter reappeared that same afternoon.  Painlessly.  I didn’t even have to utilize Liz’s first suggestion, to let him have one box to keep things in; he actually let things go on his own, without complaint.

(I wonder if he’d let me give those shoes away now?)


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  1. * jenfletcher says:

    Reblogged this on Pursuing "enough" and commented:
    My first time being asked to write a guest post! The Sort-It blog is great for organizing advice….especially when the organizer answers your questions personally. 😉

    | Reply Posted 6 years ago

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