The next decluttering topics we’ll attend to are crafts and photos. I’ve combined them here because both of these items present the same problem: too much of a good thing.
First, the crafts. It’s very trendy nowadays to be crafty- with social bonus points going to anyone who uses “upcycled,” “repurposed,” and “reclaimed” materials in their project. Pinterest has suggestions for how to use virtually anything you might recycle or throw away.
“Turn old egg cartons into a toddler sorting activity instantly!”
“10 minute dioramas from cereal boxes tutorial”
“Add chalkboard paint to old soup cans to create cute pencil holders!”
(Actually, I believe you can add chalkboard paint to anything and it’s instantly hip and useful again.)
Well, these are fun ideas. I’ve pinned some of them myself. Others might even categorize me as a “Pinterest mom,” but people, I’ve been crafting since way before it was cool. I certainly don’t intend to scoff at Pinterest or crafting. However, this social pressure to create and reuse- especially among moms- can easily lead to hoarding of purchased supplies as well as recyclables. On a few mom blogs, I’ve seen lists of suggested recyclables “to keep on hand” including old take-out containers, pine cones, shipping boxes, paper towel tubes, packing peanuts, milk jugs, boxes of all sizes, baby food jars….. In addition to the typical glitter and pipe cleaners-type of supplies and maintaining a half dozen trendy “sensory bins” with beans, rice, water, foam, etc, of course. I’ve found I cannot house even a quarter of those supplies, nor do I want to.
Here are a few guidelines I use to ward off the craft clutter:
1. Do I have a use for it PLANNED?
Can I make a statement about my plans for an object do not include the words “could,” “maybe,” or “one day?” If not, it’s probably not a keeper.
2. How easily could I procure this item if I should need it in the future?
It is rare that the answer to this question is anything other than “very easily.” Even in the case of recyclables, if you find that you need a set (12 egg cartons?), you can raid your recycling and/or place a request with some friends. I’ve provided neighbors with some of my garbage on a half dozen occasions in recent years when they posted craft needs on local group forums, and I’m sure they’d be willing to do the same.
3. How much money might I lose if I don’t store this?
This applies when you are tempted by a 10 gallon tub of colorful assorted craft whatnots on sale for half price. It’s exciting just to imagine! But think for a moment if the amount of space the tub takes up times the amount of time it’ll be sitting on your shelf is worth the money saved during the sale. Would you rather buy it at full price at the moment it’s needed? Who’s to say it won’t be on sale then anyway? Or better yet, you can buy just the pieces you need when you need them, perhaps at a higher cost-per-unit but at a lower total cost than the big tub, and never store the extra “assorted” bits that you likely will never use.
4. Despite what the craft blogs say, your child’s creative development is not directly proportional to the number of mason jars you have squirreled away around the house for impromptu projects. I promise.
In fact, letting the child devise entertainment with the environment at hand can often foster creativity better than a prepared craft.
This leaves the topic of photos, which doesn’t lend itself to specific tips like this. I’m really addressing “extra” prints here- ones that aren’t destined for a photo album but that you keep anyway “in case you can use it,” like for a craft project. I had boxes and BOXES of printed photos from the days of film cameras as well as prints from digital pics that were left over after I made my annual photo albums. A few months ago I finally threw away the photos that I knew I wouldn’t ever use, and they took up half of our huge outdoor trash can.
I can only offer general guidelines because photos are so personal. But once you’ve saved the “good ones” physically or digitally, view the left overs realistically and with an open mind. Once I looked at my photos objectively like this, I was shocked at how many I had saved in bulk for decades “for sentimental reasons” turned out to be blurry, unintentional, or duplicate shots; they actually had no sentimental value. If you’re a bit of a photo hoarder like I was, you may be surprised how much you can pare down your collection once you allow yourself to flip through it with a critical eye.
The last two topics in the decluttering series have more to do with preventing clutter than ridding your home of it, and they happen to be two of my favorite things. First we’ll talk about home improvement projects and later, garage sale shopping (well, shopping in general, too).