Minimalist Homeschool Storage Boxes . . . one year later.

Sorting box system . . . Recycle, share, return.  Our sharing box is our unsure box.  Set aside until we can let go of the items.
Sorting box system . . . Recycle, share, return. Our sharing box is our unsure box. Set aside until we can let go of the items.

My one year old homeschool “sharing” storage box has been opened.  The Recycle items went out to the curb the very first week.  The Return items were sent back to their original homes (library, grandma’s, upstairs bookshelf etc.)  The Sharing box (a.k.a. let’s-get-rid-of-box) was labeled and set aside for three months, and forgotten for a year.

Earlier in the week I wrote about how I feared opening the “storage-sharing” box, not sure what I would find and be tempted to hold on to, and also afraid to just dump the box and regret one last chance to check the contents.  I promised to report on the progress.

I started by just lifting the lid, slipping my hand in and feeling around.  Soft and squishy.  I pulled out a stuffed pillow made by our youngest, Emily.  She was not sure that she wanted to get rid of it, being her first ever project.  I took a picture and it is gone, she has no interest in it.  A year ago her sewing project was very precious, since then we have been homeschooling many sewing projects and she is making beautiful aprons for all the aunties and grandmas.

So easy.  Why do we hold onto those first projects that seem so precious?

My hand reached in again and I pulled out an old embroidery sampler that I had sewn as a child.  It was half finished, with a big ugly owl, sitting on a 1970’s pumpkin orange tree branch with avocado green leaves.  Ugly.  Why do we hold onto these projects that are not useful, and not beautiful.  (See one of my first articles on Useful and Beautiful, a revelation I made in the first weeks of starting my Minimalist Homeschooler process.)

Part of my home education was learning to sew as a child.  Other than using this project as a lesson to share with Emily, on how everyone will walk away from an ugly project, I no longer see a purpose in saving the half-finished owl.

My hand slipped back in and I pulled out another sewing project.  I started seeing a theme, this box contains a lot of sewing projects.  This one is the edges of an old pillowcase, little pastel sheep dancing amongst flowers.  My grandmother had sewn this for me, and I had slept with the pillowcase for years.  My vision became bleary with tears.  Not everything would be easy to toss.  This is just a tattered edge to the pillow case that I scrounged from my mother’s rag bag as a child and hid in my sewing box for years, claiming I had it for sewing stitch instruction.  Even now, holding the scrap, it is an attempt to hold my grandmothers memory closer.  A photo of the dancing sheep won’t be the same.

The rest of the box is filled with scraps of sewing materials,  not large enough for a pattern piece and wrong textures for quilting.

I’ve moved the box out of the house and into the car.  The contents are going to the Veteran’s of America thrift shop, as they take rag for shredding and sell to another company.  The “sharing” box is out of the house and now being recycled.  I couldn’t leave the frolicking sheep in the box, so I crammed them in my next box of “unsure” items for dumping.

Emily and I have many beautiful aprons we are making.  What I learned from going through this box is that some stuff I just need to recycle/dump (small scraps) and stop storing for years, some projects just need a quick memory photo and move into the recycling, and I need to create a small treasure box of memories.  I don’t have one, but have recently read of a minimalist way to limit the treasures while making a place for them in our homes.

Dancing Embroidery Lambs
Dancing Embroidery Lambs

For more information on minimalist sorting boxes, check out my essay from earlier this year, “Forever Sorting Bins.”  And also Becoming Minimalists blog on the Four Box System, and 12-12-12 Challenge.  Well written articles.


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