Day 2: Clean Out Your Purse.



See this guy?

Earlier this morning I extracted him from my purse, where he’s been living for at least a month. Probably longer. I don’t know how he got there, but I’d see him from time to time, when digging around for lip balm or my wallet.

Every time I saw the toy I thought “Huh?” but never bothered to remove him. I mean, who knows? A miniature plastic version of Scuttle from The Little Mermaid could totally come in handy some day, right?

The days of stashing pacifiers, sippy cups, burp rags and extra diapers in my purse are behind me now, but I was still hanging on to this guy, as though at some moment my five- or eight-year-olds might start throwing a fit in the checkout lane and my only hope of survival would rest upon distracting them.

With THIS. 

Kind of laughable, right?

But in retrospect, it wasn’t really Scuttle I was hanging on to. Nope, it was the remnants of baby & toddler-mom mentality that once compelled me to treat my purse as a sort of repository of emergency motherhood supplies. (Especially since I pretty much gave up on carrying a diaper bag after the second kid.)

And it wasn’t just the toy that let me know my purse needed help. Gum wrappers, old receipts, empty hand lotion bottles, crushed candies, random cash, tissues in indeterminable states of cleanliness, and a collection of lipsticks I possibly have never worn and certainly never will again…it was a mess.

I’ve heard that the state of your purse reflects the state of your mind, and if that was true, I knew I was in trouble.

It makes sense, though, right? Unlike the typical guest-room closet, you peek into your purse multiple times a day. And it’s just plain demoralizing to have to go on an archaeological dig of your life every time you want to pump gas or pay a bill.

The good news is that, also unlike that guest closet, your purse is a small, contained area that you can clean up in no time flat. So you get maximum effect from minimum time investment, and it’s something that will make your life better many times per day.

No matter what stage of motherhood you’re in, chances are good you’re carrying around objects that no longer serve you. And chances are even better that your purse is kind of a pig sty.

So today, let’s clean out those hardworking handbags.

And maybe find a little clarity at the same time.

Some things to keep in mind as you go:

  • Money: Do you have random dollar bills and sticky coins stashed in pockets all over your purse? Let’s come up with a system. No matter how much of a hurry I’m in, there’s really no reason not to take the extra fifteen seconds to put bills away in my wallet. As for quarters, dimes, and nickels? I’m totally getting myself one of those old-fashioned change purses that seem to have gone out of style. They made sense for Grandma, they make sense for me. And there’s a whole bunch of vintage coin purses on Etsy, if you really want to be like Grandma!
  • Receipts: Most of us hang on to way too many receipts, for way too long. I also have a bad habit of folding up the coupons that print at the register  – which can be quite valuable – up inside my receipts and then forgetting about them. An envelope or designated area of the purse makes it easier to keep those things separate and sort quickly later.
  • Makeup: I don’t wear much makeup, but you’d never know it by looking at the bottom of my purse, which seems to have become a lipstick graveyard. Time to get a small bag to carry my compact and at most two lip colors. The rest can almost certainly be ditched: if I liked ‘em, I’d be wearing ‘em.
  • Motherhood Supplies: Maybe you’re still in the stage of life where a diaper or pacifier stashed in your purse is a necessity. But that doesn’t mean you have to let kid gear completely take over your space. (This reminds me of the time I thought I’d lost my favorite lip balm, and later found it tucked inside the elastic gusset of a spare diaper.) A small zipper bag or designated compartment for baby stuff can help keep it under control.
  • Maintenance: What any purse really needs is a quick daily once-over to count up bills, put any jewelry or other items that have wound up in the pockets away, toss wrappers, and keep track of receipts and coupons. It would probably take me less than two minutes on an average day to keep it neat and clean. Maybe this could become part of your before-bedtime routine?

How does it feel now that your purse is clean, organized, and decluttered?

Does your brain feel a little sharper, too? I hope so! Please share in the comments below.

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