COVID-19 Diaries: Decluttering

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I took Friday and today off ostensibly to figure out a schooling plan for the children. My intentions were in the right place. Birthday plans consumed Friday. The weekend was grunt work: grinding batter, laundry, groceries, and just everyday things.

Today, however, I decided to tackle the girl’s bedrooms. Growing up, I was the child who would set the bed without being asked to. My closet would have clothes folded and put away. My books would be arranged by size. I like order. I like seeing things in their place. Fast forward thirty-odd years, I now live with people who are not me. Stepping into my children’s rooms is like walking in a minefield. I can never tell when I will get my feet pricked by a pin or a forgotten lego. This is if I can first find my way amid the stuffed toys, balled up socks, discarded clothes, random snips of paper, origami and only about a hundred pillows in each room.

I started with the youngest considering she still does not occupy her room like the other two. I pulled out clothes, swept out odd pieces of toys, toy clothing and a whole bunch of stickers. I parsed through the clothes I had kept as the twins outgrew their clothes each year. There were two sets of most clothes. As I sat and pondered over the ones that make the keep pile and the ones that go to the give pile, I realized a whole bunch of them had tags on them. There were so many tees that I could tell had never been worn.

The closet had about twelve dresses, mostly similar cut and pattern in different colors. In a fit of clarity, I bundled them all away. By the time I was done with the three rooms, I had four large trash bags full of clothes. One filled with clothes that had been used so much that the threads were giving out. Three bags had clothes that were rarely worn.

Each time I visit Target, Old Navy or Kohls, I pick up leggings. I pick up tees. I pick them up because after discounts and clearance they average $3 — $5 apiece. I pick them up because they are a steal. I do not buy dresses. Friends buy them for the children. Then there are clothes my children look at longingly because of a unicorn hanging from a belt or some random chain that comes with the dress. Each time, I protest and I give in. Today I packed away jeans that had never been worn because I bought them for a unicorn hanging from a belt. I packed away glittery jumpsuits that were worn for one picture.

I sat on the bed looking at the waste we generate and felt indescribably sad. As much as I wished I had more clothes growing up, I am glad we restricted shopping to special occasions. I am glad I grew up alternating two pairs of sandals. I am glad I only shopped for clothes because the ones I had faded out.

My girl’s closets are bare and functional today. They have enough to tide over the next five months of being at home. If and when school reopens, I hope I have learned my lessons. Buy sparingly. Replace as needed. Clothes on sale do not mean my children need four of each. Most of all, never buy something because the kids plead with you.

If you are decluttering because suddenly you have the time and can’t look around the home without feeling like you are going to be swallowed by the clutter, what lessons are you taking away? Share away.

Laksh

Author. Parent.

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