the shrink ‘rap: issue 17

the shrink ‘rap: issue 17

In this issue:

Moving – Why You MUST De-Clutter First

About a year ago, I was faced with yet another move – number 18 to be exact. My family and I chose to move to another home in a town about thirty minutes away from our previous residence. Moving is one of life’s most stressful events, and the only way to minimize your level of stress is to prepare yourself as best you can for every aspect of the move. You have to think about finances, notifying your contact list of
an address change, packing, unpacking, changing jobs and/or schools etc. The list seems endless, but the reality is that at some point you will end up in your new home. Whether you get there with your sanity in tact is another thing entirely. If you are facing a move, even if you don’t have a clue where you are moving to yet, one of your top priorities should be to de-clutter!

Reasons it Makes “Cents” to De-Clutter

  • If you are selling a home, first impressions are everything and can make or break a deal. If potential buyers cannot see past your clutter OR perceive your home to have less than adequate storage space because your cabinets and closets are packed to the ceiling, they may continue their home search elsewhere.
  • Clutter may cause buyers to think that you are not concerned with the upkeep of your home. Some might think that it is there to hide other hidden problems like dirty carpets or leaky sinks. If you do receive an offer, it might not be your best possible offer, as your home may be perceived as being “dirty” and worth less than it really is.
  • The more stuff you bring with you, the more you will spend on boxes, bubble wrap and packing tape. Hiring a professional packer? You may have to pay them up to several DOLLARS per box! Hiring professional movers? They charge by the hour or by the job. Either way, the more you have, the more you pay. Why pack things you haven’t used in 5 years, furniture that won’t fit in your new place, or clothes you can’t wear in a new climate?
  • Time is your only non-renewable resource. Time spent packing or unpacking is time you will never get back. Inevitably the work needs to be done, but why make it more painful than it needs to be? Wouldn’t you rather be exploring your new neighborhood or finding the closest pizza place? Time is money. Take what you need, what you use and what you love. Anything labeled “miscellaneous”, unknown (random phone chargers), or unused should find a new home before you leave your current one.
  • Consider de-cluttering your opportunity to make some money or help someone in need. Don’t be bothered with trying to figure out how to get rid of your unwanted items once you get to your new home. You’ll be so busy unpacking and organizing! Find a friend or charity to take what you no longer need or have a yard sale BEFORE you move.

Even though I am a professional organizer, I am the first to admit that my family has a lot of stuff. Everything has a place, but I didn’t hesitate for one second to make two trips to Goodwill and rent a storage unit before I had my home staged to sell. There was absolutely no reason a potential home buyer needed to trip over my son’s train table in the basement (It was huge, a floor space hog and was one of the first things to hit the storage unit). Save your sanity, save your wallet, save your space…de-clutter before you move.

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Water Cooler Rap

Simple Tips for Daily Living

Managing Kids’ Hand-Me-Downs

Just a few hours ago, I had my 6-year-old daughter try on clothes from three big containers of hand-me-downs. I go through this process three times a year, typically in the beginning of spring, the middle of summer and the middle of winter. I make the monkeys try on everything they have for the upcoming season (hand-me-downs and things I’ve purchased in the next size) so I can make a list of what they need, because as weird as it seems to be shopping for winter clothing in mid-July, the stores have already started putting out their fall lines. Life would be great if every company could follow the same sizing guidelines, but no such luck. If they did, I would advise you all to pack your hand-me-downs away by size and season and call it a day.

The reality of the situation is this…Kids grow FAST. Sizing isn’t consistent among brands. Kids decide what they like and what they don’t and these feelings can change with the wind. By using hand-me-downs, we as parents are often forced to put our beloved children through the grueling process of trying things on. To minimize the frustration and hair-pulling that can result from a marathon clothing fashion show with little ones:

  • Sort through the hand-me-downs as soon as you get them from your benevolent friend or family member. Pull out anything that has a heavy stain, rip in the knee etc. Yes, it would be great if we didn’t get these things, but it happens. Some people use them as play clothes.
  • Launder everything you want to keep based on what you like. If your child is old enough to offer an opinion, have him/her help you sort through the clothes. My daughter doesn’t like brown or stripes, so I know immediately that those items go right into the give away pile. Even if the giver has laundered the items recently, your child, like mine, may have a reaction to a pet or particular laundry detergent.
  • Sort items by size. Group your child’s current size AND the next size up together. Certain brands like Carter’s and Abercrombie run small. Other brands, like Gymboree, run big. If you group only the current size items together, you may find that your child misses out on the opportunity to wear certain things.
  • Once items are sorted by current & next size, sort by type of item – dresses, t-shirts, skirts etc. Some things can be worn regardless of season (denim skirts, t-shirts in winter if layered underneath a sweater, cotton leggings). If items are clearly for one season or another (holiday dress, Halloween costume, fleece pajamas, shorts), put those items in a separate pile.
  • Use plastic storage containers with lids or Space Bags to store everything together by the sizes you have grouped together. If needed, put strictly seasonal items in a separate container from the things that can be used at any time of the year. If you have extra closet space, items can be hung and stored in the back of the closet.
  • Label all containers with removable labels or blue painter’s tape and store in a moisture controlled environment until ready to use.

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Ask the Organizer

We’re excited to include another submission to The ‘Shrink Rap’s “Ask the Organizer” section. Please continue to submit your questions by e-mailing them to Every submitted question related to organizing will be included in a future issue of The ‘Shrink Rap.

Q: I constantly find store coupons I intended to use in a pile of papers after they’ve expired. How can I keep them organized?
– Kate S., Washington

A: Dear Kate,

Your situation is frustrating, particularly if you find the coupon after you have already spent money in a particular store without benefiting from the discount. Sort your coupons by type of store (home improvement, shopping clubs, department stores, Wal-Mart/Target/K-Mart, kid stores) in a small plastic accordion folder. Pick a day of the week to sort through your coupons. If you cut grocery coupons and read through the weekly circulars, I would sort through your coupons on the same day. As you make your shopping and weekly to-do list, pull out the coupons you need or the ones that are about to expire that you have interest in using (20% off Macy’s, even if there isn’t anything particular you need from that store at the moment). Put them in your purse or car so that you have them with you when you are out running errands. If you have a coupon for an online sale, put a reminder in your phone or on your calendar to notify you of the upcoming discount deadline.

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Need more help getting organized? Call Cluttershrink® for more information on receiving hands-on assistance organizing your home, office or relocation. Phone consultations, customized seminars, mentoring for new organizers and gift certificates are also available. Call 215.431.0590 or e-mail Crystal Sabalaske

In the next issue

  • Resources for Recycling Electronics and Hazardous Waste
  • Water Cooler Rap – Get Organized Scavenger Hunt

Thank you for reading the 17th issue of The ‘Shrink Rap! Cluttershrink® welcomes feedback and questions. If you have a particular organizing topic you would like to learn more about in a future issue, please contact or provide feedback here.

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Posted in Ask the Organizer, Clothing, Coupons, De-Clutter, Filing, Kids, Meal Planning, Moving, Organizing, Paper Organizing, Selling a Home, To-Do's