Ditch the Clutter to Go Light & Free for Summer

How to Pare Down all That Stuff

By Kate Finlay Zimmerman, Publisher, Macaroni KID Pasadena May 23, 2024

Weighed down by clutter?

Always carrying too many bags, toys and stuff?

Here are 10 ways to streamline and feel lighter for summer

1. Wear men’s jeans with pockets

I never believed the complaints online about the fashion industry shrinking the size of women’s pockets so we will buy purses.  But then last year on a whim I tried on a pair of Men’s jeans.  I could fit my entire hand and wrist in the front pockets!  I bought those jeans as well as a new phone case with a pocket on the back for my license and major credit card.  It’s so freeing to put my phone and keys in my pockets and I don’t even need a purse most of the time.  

2. Get a phone case with pockets

Store the few actual cards you need (drivers license, debit card, etc.) in the phone case pocket.  Save your membership card info in your phone contacts and ditch the things you don’t need.Instead of carrying business cards, airdrop your info through a virtual card or create a personal QR code to show new colleagues instead.  

3. Shrink it!

Switch to a smaller purse and a smaller wallet that are lighter and have less bulk. You’ll be less likely to leave unneeded items in there, forgotten and less likely to tweak your shoulder or back from being weighed down on one side.  

4. Combo purse / diaper bag

One of my favorite bags was a gift I bought for myself when my son turned 2. It was a combination diaper bag / purse, with a pocket on one side for my wallet and keys and space on the other side for bottles, binkies and baby stuff.  Diapers and clean clothes fit in the center section. It was clearly designed for moms who don’t want to be weighed down with extra bags.

5. Carry a well-stocked emergency kit in your car

It might sound counter to the message, but packing one carefully stocked emergency kit and keeping it in the car will get all those extras out of your purse or tote bag.  For a combination first-aid kit and social emergency stash, fill a medium sized Tupperware or old lunch box with Band aids, Tylenol, safety pins, baby powder, extra hair ties and whatever else you might need on occasion. If it’s packed tightly and kept in the trunk of the car, you’ll still have it handy without lugging too many extra supplies everywhere. Remember to include travel-sized or mini versions only.

6. Car seat-back organizers for the kids

Stop carrying toys in your bag for the kids and provide them with their own space to save special items (action figures, magnetic mazes, and the like) for boring car rides.  Older kids can be responsible for their own things by choosing when to take them out of the car and into the store of friend’s house, and when to leave them behind safely in their storage pocket.  Teach them that these things don’t ever come into your home but live in the car for the next trip.    

7. Stash extras in the trunk

Got a kid who is potty training or has occasional accidents?  The under-floor compartment of your SUV or a trunk organizer is the best place to store extra pants and undies.  For older kids a bathing suit that lives in the trunk allows for flexible summer fun.  Is your trunk already cluttered?  Get into the habit of clearing it our seasonally.  It takes only about 10 minutes in the spring and again in the fall to remove the old (too small spare sweater, rain boots, whatever) and switch out for the new (bigger size swimsuit, flip-flops, playground ball).   

8. Stash stuff strategically.  

Instead of carrying everything all the time, think about when you use things the most.  I took my frequent shoppers’ punch cards out of my purse and attached them to my favorite shopping basket.  I bring this basket whenever I hit the farmers market or the thrift shop, and always have my punch cards handy. Try attaching a small zipper bag to the strap of your favorite grocery bag for stashing paper coupons, too.

9. Slim down your keychain and add a clip

Remove all but the essential keys.  Ones you use infrequently can each go on their own related keychain kept in a drawer at home.  Keychains with clips are great, because you can attach the whole set to your purse handle, shopping bag strap or belt loop.  Then you won’t need to fumble for them when you’re headed back to your car.

10. Pre-pack a large beach bag for summer jaunts. 

Pick one extra-large bag with a sturdy handle and make it the family beach bag.  In it, store towels, toys, sunscreen, hats and whatever else you and your kids need for a trip to the pool or beach.  When you are trying to get everyone into swimwear and out the door, it’s too much to gather all these items too.  Just keep the whole bag ready to go for when you need it.