Another guest post from the B of the BFFs Mary Jo!


I worked 18 Black Fridays as a retail manager. The first couple years after I left the business, I spent the entire Black Friday weekend curled up on my couch with a glass of wine and a good book, trying to get over the touch of retail ptsd I’m sure I still have. Over the years though, a new tradition has developed. The boys and I spend black Friday weekend every year cleaning out. Getting rid of. Organizing. It’s a tiny thing that doesn’t really make a dent in the consumerism that prevails in our lives the other days of the year, but it makes me feel better to know that on this particular weekend I’m not part of the madness. Of course, my kids kind of hate it (and me) but you know what? It makes me feel so much better.


This year we gathered up 4 bags of clothes and toys that we will donate. Some things left gracefully (old clothes – mine) and some things took a bit more, ahem, persuasion (pretty much all the toddler aged toys that my 8 and 11 year old children haven’t played with in 5 and 8 years, respectively) but it got done. And I felt better for about a minute.


But here’s the truth.


There is too much stuff in my house.


My husband is a packrat of the packing rattiest kind, and he has spawned two packrat type children. And even though I like to think I’m not so bad, there are things that I have a bit of a sentimental connection to, like my third grade cheerleading uniform, an odd collection of frog figurines from my 20s, and every single scrap of fabric that has ever crossed my scissors. And I’ve always heard that if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem (citation: Candy Shirley, bookstore manager, circa 1997) so I’ve tried every single organizational and decluttering tip that Pinterest has to offer.


The daily checklists seem like a great idea, but I’ve never actually made it past day three. A few years ago I read up on the KonMari method and truth be told I love the idea of getting rid of everything that does not spark joy in my life, but it feels like a slippery slope in which I might, on a particular day or time not find joy in, say, dirty laundry, my kids, my cats, or the one chair that I stub my toe on 3 days out of seven, and really? I need all those things. So KonMari isn’t really for me either. I like the “get rid of a bag of stuff every single day” thought too, but see above about only ever making it three days on a really structured plan.


So I’ve come up with a sort of hybrid plan that has really worked for me over the last few years. I keep a rolling list of areas in my house that could use some organization and decluttering – the kitchen junk drawer, the linen closet, that one drawer in the filing cabinet all make frequent appearances on my list – then I try to declutter about one a week.


The main drawback to this method is that there are always more areas on my list than I will ever get done, so I guess I’m never finished, I’m always in the process of decluttering. But it feels like I’m fighting the good fight all the time.


And then… I donate. There are plenty of national organizations that accept donations – Goodwill, The Salvation Army, and Habitat for Humanity ReStore, but my preference is to donate to local charities when possible. In my area there is a clothes closet that accepts donations of clothing, and there is also a women’s shelter that takes clothing, toys, and personal care items. It makes me feel good to know that someone might get some use out of things that I no longer need, and my house is getting a little less cluttered, one drawer at a time.