Monday, March 1, 2010

How to Downsize a Household with Children

My friend, Alicia, recently asked a great question on Facebook:
If you were downsizing from 1600 sq ft to 900 sq ft, 6 big closets to 4 small ones, and a 2-car garage to a 1-car garage, what would you get rid of??
I would declutter 4 major space consumers:  kitchen stuff, kid's clothes, toys, and books.  As I decluttered I would throw away broken or stained items, give away things, sell stuff on Craig's List, or return it to a less cluttered cabinet.

Assuming the kitchen drawers and cabinets are already organized and like items are already grouped together, I would tackle one or two spaces at a time.
  • Do I have a duplicate of this item?  Do I need more than one of this (platter, mixing bowl, serving bowl, etc.)?
  • Have I used this item in the last year?  
  • If it's a seasonal dish or serving utensil, do I have a non-seasonal item that could be used instead?
For the kid's clothes:
  • Designate 1 large tub for their baby/toddler clothes that I loved and would like to pass down to a grandchild one day (crazy thought!!).  
  • Get rid of everything else that was too small, I didn't like, or my child didn't like.  Do this again at the end of a season.
  • How many of each item does a child really need for the new location?  For example, does a boy really need 4 sets of church clothes?  (I think 2 is enough.)  Does a girl really need 5 nice church dresses? (Again, 2 of each season should be enough.)

For toys (the bane of my existence):
  • Is it broken?  
  • Not seen the light of day in 3 months? 
  • Have they outgrown it? (Feel free to keep their old infant and toddler favorites, but limit them to one container.)
  • How many action figures, Hot Wheels, Polly Pockets, Thomas trains, etc. do they need?
  • If it doesn't fit inside a medium-sized container or under a bed let it move to someone else's home (Grandma?).
For books (my delight and temptation):
  • Is it a quality story, illustrations and binding?
  • Have they outgrown it (boardbooks)?
  • Do I like the book?
  • Is the binding broken?  Pages torn or stained?
  • For grown-up books - will I read it again?  Would I loan/ recommend it to someone?
  • Do I have similar books?  (3 variations of Goldilocks?  Or 5 marriage books?)
  • Can we borrow this from the library or a friend?
Thank you for asking a tough but great question, Alicia!

Even though I don't plan on downsizing anytime soon I am hoping to move later this year.  When the time comes I don't want to pay to move or store a bunch of stuff I don't need so it's helpful to start thinking and decluttering now.

Do you have any ideas or tips for downsizing a household?


Amy said...

Helpful thoughts! I've learned that we will fill whatever space we's not that we need the space-just that if we have it we will fill it! :) As an encouragement, there is generally room to downsize!

Joel and Stephanie said...

So true, Amy!

Rachel said...

Great ideas even if you aren't downsizing! And very good advice.

Wherever HE Leads We'll Go said...

These are really great tips. I am a pack rat so I struggle with getting rid of stuff. I am starting to get better about that (since I live in a shoebox!), but it is a work in progress. : )

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