Those close to me know that I have no trouble getting rid of excess clutter in my home. It doesn’t matter if it’s clothing, toys or kitchen appliances – if I haven’t used it in a while it goes. Children’s books on the other hand are definitely a weakness of mine. My children have such a love for reading. I have read to them since they were only a few months old. Not only is it great for speech and language development, I live for the snuggles and one on one time with my kiddo’s.
Books are one thing that I have always had a problem parting with. They are one of those items that can take up very little space and can provide a heap of entertainment for the kids, time and time again. My children have their favourites and of course there are a few that I am sentimental about also. Particularly books that my kids would request every single night for months and months on end. Remembering how my Son had learnt all of the words by heart and the funny way they would pronounce certain words puts a smile on my face.
Over the years our collection has continued to grow. In fact, I am pretty sure I could count on one hand how many books I have ever thrown out. To keep on top of the book clutter my children each have one designated shelf for books in their bedrooms and we also keep a basket of books in our living room. The rest of our library is stored in plastic tubs in the garage and we rotate the books every few months.
But how many books should you store to rotate in and out? The answer to that question will vary person to person. I guess it depends on how much space you have to store them and how often you change them over. We currently have two 60L tubs and they are packed full. If I am being honest, the truth is that we have never purged books before and I know that many of them never get read and there are heaps that the kids have quite simply outgrown.
A few weeks ago my Son asked if we could change the books so I dragged the two plastic tubs out from our garage and lugged them onto the lounge room floor. We began searching for a particular book that Master B had been asking for and within 10 minutes my carpet looked like this.
I honestly could not believe how many books we owned and these didn’t even include what was already in the house. Being that school holidays had just started, I took advantage of a stormy Sunday afternoon and began finally purging the kid’s books.
First we brought every single book out to the carpet and I got the children to select a pile of books for each of their rooms. I then chose books for our living room book basket.
I began sorting them into the following piles:
- Maybe keep
- Baby books / outgrown
- Damaged / to throw out
- Sets (grouping all Dora / Thomas The Tank Engine – books together etc.)
These were placed directly in the empty blue tub.
I placed these on the floor so that I was able to keep track of how many we were keeping.
We had a ridiculous amount of educational books for learning first words, colours, shapes, numbers and animals. I kept only one of each type and donated the rest. I then collected a few of my favourite board books “just in case” we have another baby. (#wishfulthinking) The rest were also donated
I said goodbye to those damaged books once and for all.
We looked through the book sets and kept the ones we will continue to read eg. Dora the Explorer, Where’s Wally, Winnie The Pooh. I then put the remaining sets in our donation box with the exception of two, which I am trying to sell.
I left these until last so I knew how much room we roughly had in our “to keep” box. I was able to be realistic in what I knew we would genuinely use and enjoy. There were obvious purges. These were books the kids have never chose to bring inside. I also found twelve books that we had two copies of (I’m not even sure how that happened) so all of the doubles were purged as well.
We began packing our “to keep” books back in the plastic container. To my surprise (and relief) they all fit back into just one 60L tub. That’s right, I had achieved my goal and we halved our library – and all of our favourites are still here.
This was my donation pile.
It just goes to show how much we hold onto purely because we put off making decisions. When you decide to declutter your home, you must be honest with yourself about what you really use. I hate to see so many books in our donation pile but I know that my kids are either way too old for them or are quite simply not interested in them.
It makes me happy to think that these books will make their way to children who will read and enjoy them. And what is the added bonus to our donations? I now have space for our own collection to grow as the kids get older and their interests change.
If I can get a little serious for a moment when I began decluttering over 6 years ago I never thought I would get to the point that I am at right now. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a long way to go before I reach my end goal. When I looked at those tubs absolutely bursting at the seams the first thing I though was that every room in my house was like those tubs. Absolutely stuffed full with unused clutter.
Conquering The Guilt
I have found that when you are trying to better your home and manage the clutter you have to let go of the guilt. Why hold on to all of this excess stuff that you don’t even use, purely because you feel guilty getting rid of them? And why should you feel guilty for trying to make your home less cluttered and better organised?
I like to think of it another way.
Why am I being so selfish holding onto all of these books? We no longer love or use them and there are other children that could be enjoying them instead. There are many places you can donate children’s books. Schools, day care centres, doctors surgeries, play groups, friends and family at even pay it forward style groups online.
You are taking the necessary steps to live a less cluttered and more organised life. By ridding your home of excessive stuff you are making room for things that you truly use and love and you are making less work for yourself in the long run. No one should feel guilty for trying to enjoy their homes more.
I really feel like a massive weight has been lifted off my shoulders. No really, do you know how heavy those tubs were? We are no longer drowning in books and it feels really great to get another job crossed off the to do list.
I challenge you to tackle the kid’s books and minimise the clutter this week.