Clutter, Collectibles, and Critical Keepsakes: Barriers to Clearing and Controlling the Chaos Even With an Empty Nest

By Lisa Batten Kunkleman

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Today, while clearing some space on a bookshelf over-stuffed like me in Spanx, with photo albums, baby books, and home movies, I discovered an unlabeled, black three-ringed binder. Opening the notebook, I was pleasantly surprised and reminded of how organized I have always tried to be. Especially when paperwork is involved. I’ve done four baby books and journaled nearly every day of our kids’ lives, and the rest of our extended family, until now that our kids have flown from the nest.

It used to be magazine and newspaper clutter and piles of papers to deal with. Back a few decades, with no such thing as the internet, as a young parent, I saved helpful and interesting magazine articles on all kinds of topics but especially on parenting. In a controlled, organized manner, I made this big notebook with the highest quality, expensive, acid-free sheet protectors.

My first thought was, Oh yay: let’s clear this old stuff out and turn it into a notebook for another branch of our massive family tree. But as I was emptying the page protectors, the articles caught my eye. Uh-oh. I should never read when I’m purging but oh well.

The notebook was filled with good ideas like, “20 Things Bored Kids Can Do At Home,” and “How Real Parents Handle Discipline Problems.” I like the titles, “When Your Child Won’t Go Out and Play,” “Mom, The Kids Don’t Like Me,” and “Kids and Stress.” Some issues are timeless.

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Now that my kids are adults, my second thought was, this will be great for when the kids have kids. Or for me when I’m a grandparent to somebody besides all my grandpets, one of which is this dog who’s lying  on the bed, helping me sort through all of these papers.

So I started, stopped and restarted removing papers from the sheet protectors and decided maybe I should put them back in and present it to whichever kid becomes a parent first. Then I decided not to waste this notebook with information that may never be used. But just in case, instead of recycling these articles, I chose to save them in a file called “Parenting Ideas.” Not a bad plan since now I have a free notebook complete with page protectors, and I’ll keep that file tucked away until I present it to one of my adult kids. I’m sure he or she will say, “Oh mom, you realize of course that you can find all of this online anytime you want to.”

Then my feathers will flop because that truly was my first thought when I was about to recycle all these pages. But I shoved that thought away and allowed my conscientious, rationalizing, clutter-keeper side of my brain to win out once again. No need to recycle this pile of paper yet. I’ll get some more use out of it first.

And, so my file cabinet has one more fat file folder, filled to overflowing with family fun. And there’s some fabulous alliteration for you.

(There was an awful video here but I took it off. You should thank me for not wasting your time. Ha)

9 thoughts on “Clutter, Collectibles, and Critical Keepsakes: Barriers to Clearing and Controlling the Chaos Even With an Empty Nest

  1. i totally get this. love the bookshelf overstuffed like spanx )

  2. Isn’t there another book about de-cluttering which suggests you hold each object in your hands, and if it gives you a feeling of ‘joy’ then keep it? Try that!

  3. Take a hint from your dog and take a nap!😂🤣😂

  4. For me it’s recipe’s I’ve torn out from magazines and ideas on travel… all in folders neatly labeled even. Chicken recipes? Hundreds. Off the beaten path places to visit in California. Yup! Yes, everything can be found on the Internet…so why can I just toss them all!?!

    And love your alliteration!

    • Thanks. We are kindred spirits. I have all those files as well. And notebooks full of educational materials I used as a school counselor. I keep thinking there’s someone who works with kids who would like some new/old ideas.

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