Clutter: Buried Alive, Or: Lurid Fantasies about Australian Icons

I am the anti-hoarder. I’m constantly stuffing things my family doesn’t use (though they might argue that point – who knew that backpack contained my husband’s Blackberry?) into sacks for Goodwill. The amount of stuff in my house refuses to lessen, though.

The problem is that my husband and I are voracious thrift shoppers. We are incapable of saying no to a bargain.

Him: “Check out this wetsuit! Only five dollars!”

Me: “But it doesn’t fit. And you already have a wet suit. And you don’t scuba dive.”

Him: “But it’s only five dollars!”

Me: “Well, okay. And get the fins, too. And what about this waffle iron?”

And as the children are generally with us, this thrift fever has been passed along to them. It’s difficult to deny your child a forty-nine cent fire truck when you yourself have just purchased eighty-seven pairs of boots.Hence, the multiple wetsuits (I’m serious, he has four) hanging in my husband’s closet. And the boots in mine. And the collection of fire trucks that could rival just about any other child’s collection in the continental U.S. (as everyone knows, Hawaiians and Alaskans are notorious fire truck hoarders.) And the piles of Wiggles paraphernalia. (Huh. Who knew that’s how paraphernalia is spelled? Was that R always there?). The Wiggles collection is my four-year old’s, but I sneakily encourage it due to my lurid and enduring fantasies about Anthony, the blue Wiggle.

Then there are the various odd one-offs, like the broken bicycle pump: “You said I could pick one thing, and this is the thing I want!!”

“Wouldn’t you rather have a toy, or at least something that works?”

“No, I don’t want anything else, this is the best thing ever and this is what I waaaaaant!!!!!” (My husband, by the way, not my son.)

So, fearing that we are one broken bicycle pump away from Hoarders: Buried Alive, this week I aimed to seriously de-clutter. For freakin-real this time. I fantasized about a home that’s practically bare, where guests will enter and say “my, how… minimalist.” Eight bags of clothes, three boxes of baby toys, two additional sneaky boxes of toys my kids claim to play with (secreted out in the dead of night), three strollers I didn’t even know we had, and various other oddly shaped and unidentifiable things dropped off at Goodwill later and my house looks…the same.

This is going to be more difficult than I thought.

Photo Credit: By EvelynGiggles

About Peryl Manning

Peryl Manning is somewhat (and pleasantly) surprised to find herself the mother of two almost freakishly dimpled little boys. She isn’t sure she should be the one in charge though; at thirty-something she still manages to somehow end up sitting in her own gum, and last week she found her credit card in the fridge with the leftover pizza. She loves mellow moms and Ayelet Waldman; she hates judgy moms and truffle oil. She juggles kids, contributing to the Seattle Post Intelligencer, Momtastic and Mamazina Magazines, and other parenting publications, with whatever grace she can summon.


  1. Dusty says:

    I need to come over, Peryl. I never shop and I’m the best thrower-outer in the world (as evidenced by my zero wet suits); in fact, my family periodically goes out to the trash to retrieve something that I’ve tossed that they still need (new school clothes, their freshly-made lunch, pets). Actually, they don’t like me very much, so I’ll come over anyway. You know, to live.

  2. Ms. A says:

    At least you try, I don’t get rid of anything and it’s getting harder and harder to keep things out of the way! (and I don’t even shop, because there’s no place to put anything else)

  3. AmyinBC says:

    I love getting rid of stuff we don’t need. Unfortunately I am married to a thriftstoreaholic who was raised by a woman who lived through WW2 and learned ‘someday you might just need that’. Sigh. We have learned to compromise though. Mostly.

    Our garage may be stuffed with his ‘finds’ but the house is kept clutter and junk free. Until you go to the basement… Which I don’t do very often. :(

  4. Alexandra says:

    I like Dusty’s idea…let’s trade places for awhile. It’s easier to weed out the thresh or whatever they call it, from someone else’s stalks.

    Now, I”m making up all those adages, but you get my drift, right?

    I’ll be right over.

    And then you be right over.


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  5. It’s books for us. No matter how many donations I make to the library, the shelves are Always full…

  6. tamara says:

    i cant stay on top of the clutter either, total nightmare:) i have tons of stuff i don’t need and can’t find the stuff i do. today i went out in the pouring rain in my summer sandals b/c i couldn’t find my rain shoes in all the mess. all the more ironic b/c my so-called summer sandals are completely irrelevant and should have been tossed years ago b/c there is no summer in seattle.

  7. Peryl says:

    Moving to another state is a great way to get rid of half your stuff ;).

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  8. Oh yah. I get this. I imagine sandblasting our home or digging one of those holes to the center of the earth so there’s somewhere to store the summer clothes.
    My husband brings home all kinds of random castoffs — including people. (The Jehovah’s Witnesses come and bring their friends.) Although there is not a wetsuit that I know of in the household, treasures and “must-have finds” piles up and up and up until there is no more………….. C…a……l…………l….9….1…………..

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  9. NLM says:

    I’m all about aiming low–I proudly call myself a dilettante. But here’s a little decluttering inspiration (I hope):

  10. NLM says:

    Oh…and if simplify, simplify just isn’t working for you today, you can definitely handle this approach:

    Stay happy!

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