I have been dragging my feet on this post…because I have been dragging my feet in real life.  I look at my house and I am so overwhelmed with what needs to be done.  I actually want to strike a match and burn it all down and start a new life.  Seems easier, you know?  But that would not be the ethical or honest thing to do, so I guess I will just get started.  We are a little over 8 weeks until take off and I am way behind schedule.  I wanted this phase, The Organize and Purge Phase, to be done and over 3 months before we were set to leave on furlough.   But no, I’m behind.  So, if you are reading this.  Don’t procrastinate.  Do as I say, not as I do!

(Don’t miss Part 1 of the series: 6 Months Before Departure. Also, download the free printable available: The Home Assignment Shopping List.)

I know that everyone may have their process for getting your home ready for furlough.  I prefer to make my way through the house room by room organizing and purging before I start any packing.  I start in the bathrooms (easy to tackle), then bedrooms, and move out to the main living areas finally landing in the homeschool room…the place of no return.  

First, gather your supplies.  You won’t need much.  A large trash bag, and an empty box or footlocker.  We have so many black footlockers lying around, it is easy to fill those with giveaways.  Turn on some tunes or a podcast, put a movie on for the kids, close the door (if possible) and get started.  I prefer for no one to be in the room with me because I am a lot stricter than the kids or my husband on what we get rid of.  If you a hoarder by nature, this process may be painful.  But my guess is if you are an expat…hoarding is not in your DNA!

9 Questions to ask as yourself as you purge.  Use these questions to help you decide whether to keep or toss an item.  Needs a toss? Throw it in your super large trash bag or throw it in the footlocker to be given away.  

  • Is this broken, torn or worn out?  
  • If this is broken, has it sat for over 3 months waiting to be fixed?
  • Is it missing parts?
  • Has it been used this year?
  • Have you worn it this year?
  • Is it expired?
  • Is it still age appropriate (toys and kids games)?
  • Do I have double of this item?
  • Am I planning to purchase a better version on furlough?

Don’t miss these hotspots!

  • Linen closet.  Don’t forget to purge your sheets and towels.  If they don’t match, are stained or totally worn out, get rid of it.
  • Medicine “cabinet”.  If you actually have a medicine cabinet, kudos to you.  Go through all meds, lotions and cosmetics.  Throw it away if it will be expired before you come back.  Make note of what meds, sunscreens, etc. you need to purchase in your home country.  (Free Printable!)
  • Book cases.  Do you need your language books from 7 years ago? Have you read this book?  Will you read this book?  Do you need this Southern Living Magazine from 4 years ago? Get rid of it!
  • Laundry room.  This is a spot you may need to restock on while in your home country (magic erasers, spot cleaners, cloth diaper friendly cleaners, etc.)
  • Spice rack and kitchen items.  Some how I have 14 ladles, 3 garlic presses and only 3 teaspoons.  I need to remove and add a tad.  Also, why am I holding onto garlic salt that has turned into a rock?
  • Bed side tables and junk drawers.  Cause there’s junk in there.  Hence the name, “junk drawer.”
  • Homeschool supplies and books.  Maybe it is time to post a Facebook message offering some friends some books.  Share the love.  Make them pay shipping.  🙂

Now that you have purged and have several tubs of stuff to get rid of, it is time to do just that: Get the stuff out of your house!!!  This can be tricky because there many not be a Goodwill or church to just drop stuff off at.  Wouldn’t that be nice!  

  1. Have a day for expats to come look and get what they want.  If you have lived abroad long enough you have experienced the “drop off.” Fellow friend comes over the day before they take off and drop a box of junk, spices and stuff over at your house.  They say, “feel free to get rid of it if you don’t want it.”  This is just passing the buck.  Resist this urge.  It’s annoying.  Have them come over and go through your stuff and take what they want.  
  2. Be sensitive to community and cultural issues.  If you gave your neighbor a footlocker of stuff would it cause a problem in the neighborhood?  In the past, I just gave all our stuff to our helper but she lived in a different area of town so it did’t cause problems in our community.  Think these things through.  Ask for others’ opinions. 
  3. Think about enlisting an national friend to help.  They may know of an orphanage or community that could really use your stuff.  It may not cause so many problems coming from their hand as it would yours.
  4. Have a yard sale.  Instead of just giving things away away, sell them for cheap.  Super cheap.  This was my hopeful plan, but I have ran out of time.  Help the community while still instilling value and pride.  Again, if your are unsure in your context whether it is appropriate to sell things, ask.
  5. Ask around and see what organizations (such as Compassion International or a rehabilitation home) in your city take donations. 

Now that we are all organized and purged, we will be tackling packing next!!!  Hopfully, within the month.  Stay tuned!

Am I forgetting something?  Most likely.  Help a sister out in the comments below! 

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Preparing for Furlough: 3 Months Out|Taking Route