To Keep or Not to Keep
I am definitely not a keeper. This has gotten me in trouble before, like when I actually need something I have already purged from the house. To this day my husband accuses me of throwing out a bag of his t-shirts (I did not), conveniently forgetting that the storage container for said shirts was a garbage bag, and they were lost when some friends were helping us move to a new apartment. Yeah, I'm talking about you, Husband. I know you are reading this.
That said, my frequent purges and the trouble I've run into as a result have caused me to realize that it is useful to keep certain items "in stock" (a borrowed term from my father-in-law). Especially now that I live in a place where it is hard to next to impossible to find certain things, I am learning to stock up when I can.
Among the items allowed to take up shelf space:
1. Light bulbs: it's terrible when a light burns out and I don't have the bulb to replace it. Thanks to Mr. Murphy, it's always a very important light, and it's always at a crucial time. We now keep a plastic box in the household supply closet with various wattage bulbs. When I use one, I make a note on my shopping list to replace it the next time I'm out.
2. Canned goods: we use a lot of beans, diced tomatoes, etc, and these don't go bad. And I can't always find what I need at the Dutch grocery stores. So...I have a pantry closet especially for extra non-perishables. Same concept as the lightbulbs: when something gets taken from that pantry, it goes on the shopping list.
3. Bathroom items: soap, toilet paper, anti-frizzball hair stuff - these are all things it would stink to run out of. Enough said.
4. Batteries: this is really important with kids in the house. I am not a big fan of electronic toys, but there are times when I really need that Leapster to work, like when everyone has to come to the doctor for one kid's checkup. Same deal: plastic container with various sized batteries, waiting on the shelf to be placed into a dead toy and make a child very happy.
5. Thank you cards and blank note cards: I believe in the charm of an old fashioned letter, and I believe in the gesture of a hand written thank you. I always always have supplies to write a personal note to someone. The blank cards are especially useful if I can't make it to the store to buy a birthday card. A handwritten note will be just as appreciated.
6. Gifts: We shop all year for presents. When we see something a family member would like, we buy it and put it into a gift box. We also keep general kid presents around, for the next birthday party invite. It takes the stress out of holiday shopping, or any kind of shopping. When a big holiday like Christmas comes around, I go through the gift box, making a list of what I have for whom. I make a separate list of anyone I might be missing, as well as ideas for gifts for that person.
You get the idea. Some consumable items are worth keeping around. I do have a pretty strict policy on what comes into this house, and why. It must serve a purpose (or hopefully a few). But keeping these highly useful and frequently consumed items not only saves time, it also tends to save money. Buying things on sale or gifts when I see them is almost always cheaper than rushing around at the last minute. Under those circumstances, I am guaranteed to buy the first thing I see, regardless of price.
I still struggle with having these extra things around, but life is about compromise, right? And this guideline is manageable and keeps both the chaos (of running out of something important) and clutter (shelves overrun with just-in-case items) to a minimum. And that is why it works for me.