Wife, mother of two young girls. Lives in a good size apt, has done a nice job of setting the place up but can improve some areas. The main issue is being more conscious about what comes in and getting a routine system for getting things out.
This post will show you some of her real responses for how/why she has a hard time editing and getting things out of the home.
"Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good", a brilliant observation by Voltaire. Perfectionism is something that I see quite often as a reason so many people don't get things done. Check out The Happiness Project's great post on this topic.
>I don't like the idea of going though my children's things without them, but when I try to do it with them, they get upset and don't want to let go of much.
Be age-appropriate when editing; under two years of age is generally fine to do without them, but use your discretion. Kids are hyper-observant of what you're thinking and feeling more than what you're saying. You've admitted you're uneasy about editing your own things so they sense that and mirror your emotions. Once you become comfortable with the idea of letting things go as part of life, they will become more comfortable with it. Editing should be a routine thing done at the same time every year, a good time is right before you know there are going to be a lot of new things coming in; around the holidays or birthdays.
I highly encourage parents to involve their kids in the editing process (at an appropriate age), and explain to them why you're doing it and where the things will eventually go. Most kids want to help and 'do good'. If you explain to them that the toys or clothes will go to another child who needs it, they may be more motivated to do it. Use your judgement; if you think your child is too young or sensitive about hearing about children in need, than phrase it in a way you're comfortable.
>My husband and I aren't completely sure we're not going to have another child. Should we save the clothes and toys our kids have outgrown in case we do? Same question for maternity clothes.
Good question! Same answer for both: edit out of things you don't like or didn't use and keep a manageable amount of things in case you need them for the future. Whatever you keep should be cleaned and stored in a way that will be easy for you to find when/if the time comes to use it (dividing by age is the best way). When/if you decide you won't have more children, donate them to a good cause.
>My lifestyle has changed after having two kids and I don't spend as much money on clothes as I used to. I have a hard time editing the clothes I have from my life 'before' because even though I don't really wear them anymore, I feel like if I get rid of the nice cashmere sweater I don't really wear now, I can't afford to buy a new one when I may want it again.
I don't advocate getting rid of things for the sake of it, or if you haven't worn/used it in X amount of time. If you have clothes that are too nice to wear around young kids but you still like, they still fit you and your image, keep but archive them. Clean and pack them up nicely for when you can wear them in the future. You should pack them away so they aren't taking up valuable space in your drawers or closet which should be for your everyday things. Keep a few pieces out for date nights, special events, or when you have adult time (if you don't have any adult time, maybe it's time to get some). Edit out anything you don't like and wouldn't wear now if you could. You could also downgrade certain pieces; wear things in a more casual way than you did before so you can enjoy them now.
>I have a hard time getting rid of things I've spent a lot of money on even if I honestly have no use for it now.
Don't let guilt force you to keep something that isn't adding to your life in some way. Nothing in life is a mistake if you learn from it. We've all spent too much on something, it happens, oh well! Try not to do it again. Try to sell it if you think you may get a decent amount for it. Just remember when trying to sell things, think about how much time and effort it will take to do so and how much you will get in return. Sometimes it's better just to get the write off when you donate it.
>I get stopped with certain things that I know I want to get rid of. I really want to make sure they go to good home rather than just donating it or selling it on craigslist.
You are not responsible for finding the perfect home for something you're already given a life to. You are responsible to make a good home and take the best care of your family and to yourself, not to your things! You bought your dining table on craigslist, did you know the person who sold it to you? Didn't you give it a good home? If it were one or two items you were talking about, I would say ok, but you have bags of things that need to go out that you KNOW you're just bringing to a local church and you barely have time to do that. It's these little tasks that you think are easy enough but they add up to where you are now, with piles of things that never get done...