Sunday, March 19, 2017

Mama's Muse: Breaking the 'Pack Rat'

Okay, we all have a few things we've held on to throughout the years for sentimental reasons. For example, I've kept all my kids' first baby blankets, the crafts they made in earlier grades that look like their hand prints (::sniff::), and one picture from each of their grades so I can remember, and see, how they've grown and changed.

But I store all of these items in one little box in the storage room where no one has to see it and it takes up very little space.

I also have a very extensive Beatles collection - LPs, posters, books, collector's items from the '60's, scrapbooks, etc. But, again, they are all in storage bins in my closet where no one has to see or deal with them and they aren't cluttering up the rest of our living space.

My mother was a pack rat. Okay, almost a borderline hoarder. The difference between her and what we've learned from shows like "Hoarders" is that her house was relatively clean and organized. She just had a lot of crap displayed everywhere that gave her place the ambiance of a pawn shop. For her, it started after my grandparents passed away and she didn't want to give anything away.

Now I'm surrounded by them.

I mean, seriously. There is a huge difference between holding on to something because it has sentimental value or having a collection that can be tastefully displayed and just keeping stuff because, "it might have a use one day" or your collections take over your house. And when it gets to that point, things don't even seem clean or organized anymore and you can't find stuff when you need it because they're covered in crap...oh sorry...'quality merchandise'.

Here are some tips to whip those pack rats into shape before it turns into a hoarding situation:

~ Get rid of the oldies. Do you really need that t-shirt you wore in high school twenty or more years ago? Do you have use for towels, blankets or sheets that are faded, holey or just plain gross? Does it really matter that the stuffies you had when you were five are still kicking around? Like I said before, get rid of all the old stuff that has no sentimental value.

~ Thin out the clothes. My rule is that if you find something that you completely forgot about, that you haven't worn in years or just plain doesn't fit or us unwearable, cut the cord and get rid of it. Besides, it creates more closet space and gives an excuse to buy new clothes.

~ Do a seasonal clean up. I have a friend who goes through stuff every spring and every fall. She cleans out everyone's closet and either tosses what can't be used, or gives away the other stuff that can be useful to others. That way, you don't have a build up of useless stuff. Trust me, when you have four kids, what was awesome on summer will be crap to them by the following summer. Kids are so fickle.

~ Remember that the backyard, garage and basement are not storage areas. Just because you have more room in the basement, yard or garage doesn't mean that you can shove stuff there. It doesn't go away just because you can't see it. And, the yard, isn't really a good place anyway since everyone can see.

~ If you have to pile stuff up, it's a sign to let go. Okay, I have tons of books. Some for research, some for school, others for writing, a few that people have sent to me for reviews and a shelf or two of books for pleasure reading. But my books are all organized onto bookshelves and out of the way. I don't know how people function having stuff piled up on chairs, tables and other surfaces. Just because it's not on the floor doesn't mean that it's out of the way being piled on other furniture. Like with the clothes, figure out what is needed then turf the rest. Cork or magnetized boards are great for keeping important papers in plain view if/when things get cluttered.

~ Don't get new stuff before you get rid of the old stuff. My husband is a Kijiji junky. Yes, we do need a few things, and he's constantly on the site checking out free stuff, but it would be nice to (a) get rid of the furniture we don't want first and (b) making sure we have the room for the new stuff. I appreciate his help in finding things we need but he has a habit of just finding something he likes without thinking of the space side of things. Clear a path before welcoming that awesome new furniture, then you don't feel overwhelmed with too much in your 'only-got-so-much-room' space.

~ If someone else threw it out, there's a reason for that. I know someone who will take stuff other people throw out by the dump when they are moving. "It just needs to be fixed up a bit and it'll be good as new." This person's backyard, kitchen and basement are full of 'fixer-uppers'. If your home is already cluttered, why add to it with cool finds by the garbage bin?

~ Do NOT allow your place to be a storage unit for someone else. I don't care how close I am to someone or how/if they are related to me, it's not fair to house someone else's stuff until they need it while I'm trying to get my own stuff organized.

I am constantly telling my kids to pretend like we're moving tomorrow, emphasizing that we don't want to take junk to a new place. They've been very good, except my youngest to must keep everything. She's getting better, though.

Just gotta work on the husband now.


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