Sunday, November 23, 2008

Homeschooling Book Decluttering Project Continues

I continue to try to rid our family of books that we are done using or will never use.

The foyer and dining room continue to be stacked with books.

This must be done by Thanksgiving Day since relatives are coming to eat here, in the dining room.

I intentionally tackled this project as there was a deadline. I figured I could get it done in 17 days. It is amazing how things pop up and take up my time, robbing the time I thought I'd dedicate to this.

The hard part about this is that I really think I need to get rid of stuff. I am not just boxing extra books up and stashing them in the basement to store them. I am trying to deal with them, make decisions and get rid of some.

I even called a friend begging her to come and sit with me and help talk me through this, to encourage me to let go of some of these. She said she is not the one to help as she also has many books and has a hard time parting with them. Well it was worth a try.

The hard part is when I see good books that we have not taken time to use yet. I think, "Those books are perfect for a unit study on that topic so I shouldn't get rid of them". I also still have books that my older child has outgrown but my younger child has not yet used. So I feel I should save those.

I have three boxes so far, flagged to let go of. Yet as I go through these I am getting enthusiastic about doing this and that for our homeschooling studies. Yet the problem remains that we have only SO MUCH TIME.

This is the whole issue in a nutshell. After years of trying to tackle the clutter monster I came to realize this about myself. I also wonder if other packrats have this same issue? The issue is I have so many ideas and I think, "If I only had access to those materials then we'd do that thing". Then after getting the stuff, whatever 'the stuff' is, I need the time to do it in. There is a disconnect or shall I say a mismatch of ideas and projects and the time and energy it would take to do those things, with real life time and ability. So the stuff sits and waits to be used and consumed or used and thrown away, or used and passed on to charity or to resell or whatever. It sits and waits. And all the while we're living life and doing this or that thing with our time and energy. And the stuff accumulates.

Due to trying to save money, when we were having financial issues due to unemployment and underemployment, I felt compelled to buy materials up for use in the future, if said materials could be found inexpensively. It is true that we own over 8000 books but about 1000 were given to me free of charge and many others were 25 cents, 50 cents or even $1.

The fact that I paid little or nothing doesn’t help when I'm considering letting go of something that we haven't used yet, if it is still something that we may use in the future. For example I have a writing composition curriculum that is not a good fit for my older son. I was close to letting it go. However it may be a good fit for my younger son. So I'm keeping it.

I wish I could fix the issue I have with too many ideas and not enough time to do them in. I'd like to have it come to me more naturally, what I'm capable of and restrict intake of stuff to just what we can use. It is a conscious effort for me to not intake more stuff than we need. I think I fixed it regarding my clothing, shoes, jewelry, kid’s toys and kid’s clothes, those categories are under control. I fixed it with house decorating stuff and kitchen gadgets and cooking stuff. The last holdout area for me is the homeschooling supplies. It just is more challenging for some reason.

I've also been working on taming my inner perfectionist in the area of not feeling bad about myself with what I/we have NOT accomplished in our homeschooling. I'm in the mode of 'be content with what you have and use what you own'. I have been focusing more on enjoying the things we do and living more in the moment rather than always thinking of the un-done things on my 'to do' list. I am trying not to think forward too much about our homeschooling, stressing over when we'll start Latin for example, and instead, really enjoying the content of the lessons we did on this day, happy about a learning hurdle overcome, and good things like that.

I hate being in this stage of reorganizing and decluttering when the place looks like a bomb went off. This is a normal phase of cleaning out and getting rid of stuff. It looks worse before it looks better. I wish this phase was over.

My friend proposed a book organization strategy in light of the fact that we don't own enough bookshelves to have everything out all at once.

The ideas from K. are to sort books into categories and do this with them.

Books we're done with but simply cannot be let go of, are "museum" books, coined from my statement of "my bookshelves cannot be a museum to document all the stuff we homeschooled with in years past". Those books should be boxed and put away someplace out of the way. Or shelved on extra shelves somewhere out of the way.

Books we are using this year should be on bookshelves in the family library.

Reference books for use right now should be on bookshelves in the family library. That includes encyclopedias and things we won't use everyday but should be at our disposal.

Books to be used in future years should be boxed and stored away in a closet or in the basement. That would include books to use one year from now and books for high school years.

Books that are duplicates or too repetitive content of other ones owned (i.e. three dictionaries, too many books on Ancient Egypt) should be pared down and excess books let go of.

I did already have that system in place, somewhat. The thing is that some books that a year ago were 'what we're using this upcoming year' have now changed to 'books we're done with' or 'books we still haven't had time to use and should be gotten rid of'.

So far the positive things are that seeing and handling some books has made me feel enthusiastic and trying to figure out how to make room in our schedule to finally get to that unit study. I have some ideas for some interesting learning experiences that are different than we've done in the past.

Another good thing is that my kids are picking up some books that they hadn't noticed before and have been reading them. That includes "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" in a DK Illustrated version, a book on how stuff works, and a book about the history of ships.

I am looking forward to less book clutter around. My eyes are on that final goal as I force myself to deal with this sorting and culling.


MamaTee said...

I feel your pain!! I had (and still have to be honest) this problem. But after moving several times and now we live in a small camping-style trailer so I had to BIG-TIME declutter the books. In order to keep going I had to continually remind myself that we have a good library with tons of books. If we didn't LOVE a book or it hadn't been used for a while I had to let it go, reminding myself that there's a good chance we can always sign it out of the library again!

Good luck - that's a tough job!!


freelearner said...

I have a very hard time getting rid of books, myself. I have donated some to our local library, which we visit 1-2 times a week. I feel close to the library and know all the librarians, and even though I know that they won't use every book we donate, I feel like I'm just putting books in the communal pool and that they are not really "gone" if I send them to our library. I also feel like I'm repaying them for all the many, many books & audiobooks we have checked out. (Of course, nothing can compete with the tremendous support we give them in the form of late fees.) Try thinking of your household as being in a partnership with the library, maybe that will help. Also, try to catch an episode or two of "Clean House" -- I'm always motivated by that!