Wednesday, 10 August 2011


One of the only things I hate about the summer is this: unpacking.

I love all of the little trips here and there - day trips, cottaging, camping, summer camp. But I'm just not good at unpacking.

We came back exactly one week ago from camp, and here is our clothing bag: untouched, unpacked for 7 whole days. Not even unzipped.

unpacked suitcase and laundry. always laundry.
What does this tell me about me?

1. I've got relatively little self discipline when it comes to putting things away. This goes for the whole house and its clutter problem - not just a suitcase here and there after holidays. This is how my self-talk goes when I look at the unpacked suitcase:

self to self: Do you feel like unpacking that now?
self to self: Not really.
self to self: OK.

And then I leave it. Until I need to leave on another trip, and then I just transfer the not dirty things to the next bag and keep the cycle going. Or until it drives me crazy enough that I have to unpack it. At that point, if I don't, my annoyance just might land on some undeserving member of my family. Misplaced annoyance. It should be directed toward the unpacked bag, but instead it's directed toward a person.

This is how I need to talk to myself in the future:

self to self: (loudly and bossily) UNPACK THAT BAG RIGHT NOW! YOU HAVE NO CHOICE!
self to self: (sheepishly, hanging head) ok.

I need to toughen up and command myself to do things. Not ask, tell. Because myself will always say no  if asked.

2. I have entirely too many clothes if I don't even miss what's packed in a bag for a whole week. I read in this crazy article that many women have about 100 items of clothing and wear only 30. The article also goes on to state that women think about shopping at about the same rate that men think about sex.

Well, not me. I'm not a "shop til you drop" kind of gal. But I do have a weakness for thrift stores.

I don't want to count the articles of clothing I have, but maybe it would be a good exercise. We counted the kids' stuffed animals last fall - there were about 100. And then they gave away half. It was good for them to actually hear a number, instead of just hearing their mom say "You have too many stuffed animals!"

I still own things that I haven't worn in a good 10 years. I have purged - many times. But then new things sneak in, and I need to purge again.

When we were on sabbatical in France last year, we only had a certain number of clothes - but it was enough. And it all fit in our dressers! Now I sometimes have to shove to get things in.

And you? How do you tame your clothing drawers? How fast do you unpack after holidays?


  1. I have a tiny house that is crammed with all our stuff. Stuff from my house before we were married and stuff that was there before we were married. My clothes have been on a rack in the hallway for the last six years because we do not have closets.

    I am happy to say that some "stuff" is leaving at the end of August which will allow our tiny stuffed room upstairs to be more functional as a walk in closet!!

    So, I look forward at that time to taming the clothing department and unpacking my clothes.

    How about the "stuff of life" that clutters my mind and my heart so that I have no room to remember the things of God. Somehow the things of God can quickly become a pile in the corner or in a duffel bag, forgotten and discarded because I don't need them. I look at them too and can easily talk myself out of taking care of that area of my life.

  2. I have the luxury of a basement laundry room, far from public eyes (the laundry used to be by the back door, but we have moved them downstairs...less convenient in some ways, but oh so convenient in others.) Unpacking? I dump the bags out in front of the washing machine and put the bags away. Now I'm unpacked! It takes ten seconds! But doing the that's another story!

    I have a step-mother who was a hoarder, and I had to clean out her apartment. Does anyone really need 63 long sleeve blouses? She continues to be an inspiration to me to purge my closets and be reasonable. My rules: If it needs to be altered; give it away, you will never alter it. If it needs to have spots removed; launder it twice and then give it up if it's not clean. If it doesn't fit; face reality, you don't have room for clothes of every size you may eventually become. If you haven't worn it this year, you probably won't wear it next year either.
    Decluttering your life can lead to decluttering your spirit...hey, you've talked about that in your blog!

  3. This post cracked me up. I could not imagine letting a bag go unpacked for seven days. It would drive me absolutely crazy. The first thing I do when we get home from a long trip, or camping, is to open all the bags and toss the dirty laundry down the basement steps. Then I immediately go and start the first load of laundry. Only when everything's washed and dried and put away in drawers do I feel like we're really back home again.

    My shirt drawer could use a cleanse. And it's like you say--I try. I purge on a regular basis. I sort, and keep the kids' clothing sorted in boxes in the attic, which makes hand-me-downs easy to access, and seasonal clothing easy to find, too. But somehow more creeps in. (My mother-in-law is a compulsive clothes shopper, which I appreciate often--I rarely buy clothing for the children--but also struggle with--they often have far more than they need, or can even make use of).

  4. Lisa: good luck to you as you unpack your clothing! Yes, you're right - there are other not-so-tangible things that I leave packed away too that should come out for air too.

    Carol: I'm inspired by your 10 second unpacking. I'll try it this coming week after we return from another short vacation. And I love your clothing rules. I think I'll adopt them too.

    Carrie: See? You are way more disciplined than I am. Maybe that's one reason that I never really feel "at home" here - it's always a work in progress, and things are never quite put away or in their place or whatever. I wish I had an attic for hand-me-downs. Cycling through kids' clothing at the appropriate times (like when it fits) is hard for me to keep on top of - my system is not really a system. It's helter-skelter.