Keep, Donate or Sell? Organizing Made Simple

My Home, My Office 

When I became a stay at home mom five years ago, my home became my office.

Every year with little boys meant more outgrown gear, clothes and toys to find a place for. Was my home (aka office) organized? Yes. However, it began to fill with stuff not being used. 

Fast-forward a few years into parenthood. A baby, a preschooler, and my husband became ill and died. Sorting through baby gear never made it to the top of my list. Now, there were boxes from my husband’s funeral. Boxes from his office at work, from his car we sold, and all of his clothing. Boxes of get well cards, books on cancer, and all of his post appointment printouts filling the basement and my bedroom closet. 

My home felt chaotic. It was no longer organized well. Boxes were overflowing and littering every inch of the basement. The closets packed solid. 

Keep, Donate or Sell? Organizing Made Simple | Twin Cities Moms Blog

Then my home became an office in another way; I started working at the kitchen island part-time while the kids went to daycare. Some days it was truly hard to focus, knowing everything was piling up. It caused a lot of stress and anxiety. I tried and failed to work on the clutter with the boys home. This wasn’t a job to do with them at my feet.

For Good Reason

Every mom has a reason her home fills up with stuff. Whatever your why is, I am validating it right now. Organizing is and should be at the bottom of our priorities when our babies grow up way too fast. My reason was mere survival and it wasn’t a priority. 

When a friend shared she was starting her own organizing business, I was intrigued. My Type A personality asking for help? With organizing? I swallowed a huge chunk of my pride and became her first client. 

The Process: Keep, Donate, Sell 

Every appointment had the same elements to it. The organizer brought bins, bags, markers, paper and tape. Our first two appointments were three hours long. Outgrown clothes, baby gear, and toys were on the agenda. 

We started by sorting them into piles: keep, sell, donate. The keep pile had a few special outfits that sparked joyful memories. They went into one bin, labeled, and put away on a shelf with each son’s name. 

The organizer grouped the clothes by size, season, and occasion; then took pictures of each lot with my phone. Each picture was numbered with the price of the lot, boxed, and labeled. They were ready for sale. After our appointment, I would post them for sale online using porch pick up. A time saver to have buyers pick up on their own schedule.

Keep, Donate or Sell? Organizing Made Simple | Twin Cities Moms Blog

What wasn’t good enough to sell, I donated to various organizations. Another time saver was using organizations that do curbside pick up for donations. If items did not sell on the online garage sale sites within two weeks, they also went into the donation pile. 

Our third and most helpful appointment was four hours. We sorted through seasonal decorations and childhood keepsakes my mom saved. With time left, we worked on sorting through boxes I was avoiding: wedding day, oncology printouts, and the funeral home. 

It was cleansing to throw away unnecessary items that did not spark joy. A lot of the items actually sparked laughter! Such as, who is going to use a reusable grocery bag from the funeral home? Not this lady. An organizer helped set aside my emotions and sort through what was important for me to keep. 

Dump It All Out!

I learned one very important tip that has helped me stay on task when doing this alone: empty out all the contents of whatever container I am sorting. Lay it all out and make piles of garbage, donate, keep. If you are sentimental like me, you can hang on to a few things. The keep pile you can reduce again (and again). 

When you take everything out at once, you will see how much of it you DON’T need. Every container was reduced by at least half of its contents. “Why did I keep this?” was a common reaction. It made this huge task fun and provided some laughs trying to think of a reason I saved some things! 

Find What Works In Your Budget

Whatever your tolerance for clutter, sorting clothes, toys, or household goods requires time and energy we often don’t have. Asking a friend over in exchange for lunch worked several times for me. However, I never could catch up and the job got too big. 

Working with an organizer simplified an emotional and overwhelming job I had put off for over two years. She helped me stay on task, finish one job at a time, and taught me practical tips to stay ahead of the clutter. 

What tips for organization work for you? 

Keep, Donate or Sell? Organizing Made Simple | Twin Cities Moms Blog

Julianna Czech
Julianna is a widowed mom to Edward (2013) and Reginald (2016). She is redefining life and finding joy again to honor her late husband, Adam. While raising a newborn, toddler, and fighting colon cancer, they lived and loved with no regrets. Julianna tries to balance grieving, parenting, and dating. She returned to work part time for a financial advisor after being a stay at home mom for nearly four years. Julianna also helps lead a local cancer caregiver support group (Cocktails and Chemo - Minneapolis Chapter). Julianna’s favorite time of the day is drinking hot coffee and eating breakfast with her boys. Her sons are the greatest gift and keep her laughing! She finds peace in traveling with girlfriends, journaling, and reading. Find more of her writing at Adam’s Pack.

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