Minimalism Game — the July edition

Every month that goes by, I think, “This month getting rid of stuff will be more difficult. I definitely have less stuff now.” And then it’s just not more difficult. But I do have to say that with the near completion on my last major decluttering project, I think it will get a bit harder.

So far I’ve done my own closet a few times, my husband’s closet once, and my kids’ closets every few months. And then there’s my bookshelves once, the CDs and DVDS once, and and my magazine collection. The magazine collection, I decided, had to go entirely. I don’t even remember subscribing to any magazines. They just seemed to appear. Because of some weird sort of OCD I didn’t even know I had, I feel compelled to flip through every single magazine in my possession. But now I think it’s finally over!

Here’s the list for July:

1) White lace scarf
2) Xmas cards from many years ago I didn’t send
3) Weird pillow
4) Stuffed dinosaur
5) Magazine from May 2015
6) Datebook from 2014
7) Too many goodie bags
8) Magazine from June 2014
9) Yarn I don’t like
10) Tons of old photos
11) Magazine from May 2014
12) Bathrobe I’ve never worn
13) Old spice (literally 10-year-old oregano)
14) Magazine from October 2014
15) Non-preferred bottle
16) Magazine from September 2014
17) Old medicine
18) Stacks of paperwork
19) Magazine from August 2014
20) Alarm clock
21) Many books
22) Magazine from November 2014
23) Ice scraper
24) Ten-year-old computer discs
25) Odd car-related thing I could not identify
26) Magazine from December 2014
27) Gross bibs
28) Unwanted bottle
29) Magazine from October 2014
30) Very small plastic toys
31) Magazine from November 2015

The Terror of Creep

I’ve been doing this minimalist thing for quite some time now, and as I’ve mentioned in my monthly reports of purging, I’m kind of surprised that I still have so much stuff to get rid of. Thinking about it, part of the reason is because when I do go out and buy something, I usually don’t just buy one thing. Not that I shop often, but I do have two children, and they grow out of their clothing fairly regularly. Most of the shopping I do is grocery- or drugstore-related, and for consumables, so eventually they are used up. I have heard of people who make their own toothpaste or deodorant to cut down on cost and/or waste, but that is so not something I want to get into.

Toothpaste

I am not making this from baking soda and alchemy!

Still, when I bring something new into the house, especially if it’s for myself, I will try to delete one like item. For instance, the other day I bought myself a new blouse. I looked through my closet and found an old blouse that had way too many loose/hanging threads, so I got rid of that one. Whenever I get one of my sons new items, I check through their closets to see if they have anything old that doesn’t fit them anymore. If it’s my older son, I’ll move it to a box of clothing I’m saving for the younger, and if it’s the younger, it will go into whatever donate pile I’m currently working on.

What methods do you have for fighting creep?

Sleep props and cough drops

If you’ve heard the term “sleep props” before, it was most likely in regard to babies. A sleep prop is something that you need in order to fall asleep. Probably the most common sleep prop is a pacifier. The danger of having a sleep prop, if you haven’t guessed, is that when that sleep prop is no longer available (like if it falls out of a babies mouth), the person then wakes up.

My first child had a sleep prop, and yes, it was a pacifier. He didn’t sleep through the night until he was over a year old. When he was two, I had to go through this whole rigamarole of the “Binky Fairy” in order to convince him to give up the pacifier. My second child does not like pacifiers. Not bragging but he slept through the night since he was six weeks old.

binky
Unfortunately there is no fairy out there who can help me.

I have more in common with my first child when it comes to sleep props. No, I don’t use a pacifier (I’m not sure if I ever did), but my list of sleep props is embarrassingly long. I would like to eventually give them all up, but I realize it will be a super long process. Here goes:

1) Benadryl: When I was pregnant with my first son, I had terrible insomnia. I was told I could take Benadryl every night if I needed it. It’s now more that five years later, and up until a few weeks ago, I was still taking it every damn night. The only reason I stopped was because after my Lasik, they told me it was too drying for my eyes. But I’m done! Not taking it again unless medically necessary.

2) Ear plugs: This is a very difficult one to understand. I started using ear plugs because my ex-boyfriend snored extremely loud. So we are talking about 20 years ago. When we broke up, I was so used to the ear plugs that I continued to wear them. I was sleeping alone in a quiet apartment and I used earplugs! When I started dating my husband more than ten years ago, he didn’t snore at all. Unfortunately, now he does occasionally snore, so I wake up and have to put them in. But I am able to get through some nights without.

3) White noise machine: Yes, this seems completely crazy when coupled with the ear plugs. But I started using a white noise machine almost five years ago when my son was born so he wouldn’t hear me doing whatever while he was sleeping. When he moved to his own room a few months later, I found I had gotten so used to the machine that I couldn’t sleep without it. I don’t really know if I’ll ever give this up, nor do I particularly want to. My bedroom faces a street, and I’d probably wake up every time a car went by if I didn’t have it.

4) Halls Menthol Sugar-Free Cough Drops: This one is the most embarrassing because I think there’s a chance I could actually die from it, and also because it’s most like the pacifier. I cannot sleep without a cough drop wedged in between my teeth and cheek. Like absolutely cannot. As soon as it dissolves completely, I wake up coughing. If I try to fall asleep without one, I cough so badly I nearly vomit. No, it has never lodged in my throat. I only sleep on my side, and whatever side I’m on, the cough drop is also on that side. I’m not even sure when I started doing this, but maybe it was while I had a cold around 6 or 7 years ago. I would really like to stop doing this, but unfortunately there is no “Halls Fairy” to help me out.

I rarely use this blog to write something depressing or overly personal and I’m only doing now in the hopes that I’ll feel some sort of catharsis when I’m done writing.

What do birthdays mean to an adult? Maybe nothing. After I turned 18, I think mine all kind of sucked. Were my expectations too high? I don’t know. As I’m much older now, I’ve thought about what I wanted from a birthday, and it’s this: at least a few people around me who I know want to be around me, some type of baked good that was made or purchased by someone other than me, and a wrapped gift (that doesn’t need to have cost any money [it could have been handmade or whatever (the wrapping is important though because it indicates thoughtfulness)]). This year, I didn’t have any of that. I was disappointed, of course, but my kids are too young to do anything, or remember on their own, so it was easy to dismiss. Whatever, I’m an adult, so I didn’t have the birthday I wanted. Maybe no one does. Just because my expectations may be lower than some doesn’t mean I’m going to get what I want.

Anyhow, this post isn’t about that. Tomorrow is my younger son’s first birthday. When my older son turned one, a ton of friends and family came. It was an amazing day that I still remember in vivid detail, even though he doesn’t. I know my younger son will never remember his first birthday either, which is fortunate because every person I invited declined. All with valid reasons, but they all declined. My sweet baby’s birthday will be celebrated with zero guests. Everyone who has declined says “Don’t take it personally.” Of course, I should be able to not take it personally. And I know that no one loves my son as much as I do, so it feels extremely painful to me, when to everyone else it’s no big deal. And no, I don’t want to remember this day as the day my beautiful son turned one and I cried myself to sleep because I don’t think there are enough loving people in his life.

But I cannot help how I feel and how I feel is just miserable.

Getting rid of stuff

As you might expect, figuring out exactly what to do with stuff when you’re ready to get rid of it has been causing me a bit of a problem. I live in an urban area, and many of the charities that make scheduled pick-ups do not operate in New York City. But then I learned to employ a technique that has worked out so well for me in other aspects of me life: I lie.

I’ve been using my in-laws’ address and scheduling pick-ups with places that will take donations of almost anything you have to get rid of. It has worked out really well, and they give me a tax form every time they come pick up. About every other month, I have about two to three bags and boxes to give them. Now that I’m pretty much done with the majority of the decluttering, it’s only this amount, and not like 20 bags at a time.

However, there are some things I look at and wonder if I could get some money for them. So after being hesitant about it for months, I finally started selling some of my stuff on eBay. The first day, I listed four items, and three of them sold immediately (with the “Buy it now” option). When I saw eBay had given me 20 free listings to use in a month, I decided to go for it, and listed anything I thought people would possibly want. Maybe it was beginner’s luck, but most of it sold.

I also tried Freecycle, more than once, and Craigslist, also more than once, to try to get rid of the heavier stuff. But sadly, even though people always expressed interest in whatever I was giving away for free, they never came to pick it up. Which is particularly annoying for me, as I’ve heard of people traveling between boroughs to get things like 3/5 a bottle of Pine-Sol. But luckily, the charity isn’t as picky, and they will take my functional but extraneous mouse with no complaints.

original-pine-cleaner
What lengths would you go to in order to get a bottle of this?

How do you get rid of unwanted but usable items?