I have too much crap!! How to declutter/dehoard.....

by Muddy Waters 36 Replies latest jw experiences

  • GrreatTeacher

    Let me tell you my latest MIL the hoarder story.

    She called my husband last night and told him to come over right away. She sounded sheepish, knowing my husband would give her hell once he got there and found out what had happened.

    We got tl her apartment and found broken dishes all over the floor and counters in her kitchen. She had stuffed her kitchen cabinet so full of dishes that the weight finally brought the whole cupboard down off the wall!

    There was an amazing amount of unnecessary dishware there. She lives alone. But, she sees things she likes and buys them. She likes lots of options. She has mugs for this kind of coffee maker and mugs for that kind of coffee maker, mugs for tea, mugs that microwave well and mugs to go. There were bowls for cereal, bowls for soup, bowls for taking leftovers hom from potlucks, bowls for the grandkids, bowls for holidays, etc. There was plenty of Tupperware, but also washed and saved bowls, packages, etc from grocery products. There were stacks of plastic cups from fast food restaurents that she had saved. This all felt necessary to her.

    Fortunately, most of the stuff broke, and there was still plenty of dishes left, so I walked her through the task of reorganizing things once my husband reattached the cupboard to the wall.

    First, is any of this trash since we are already taking the broken stuff to the dumpster? She let go of the fast food drink cups.

    "Is there any of this stuff that you don't use very often that we can put on the top shelf?" She let a good set of dishes go up on the top shelf where she couldn't reach.

    "How about we put the plates on the bottom shelf since it is sturdier?" She agreed.

    "How about we put the mugs and glasses on the middle shelf where you can still reach them?" She agreed.

    When space was filling up, she suggested that we could put duplicate items away in other cabinets. I relented in order to keep the new arrangement organized.

    This is the type of thought processes that you go through in order to keep things neat and tidy, but she can't do it herself. She needs me to walk her through things.

    I have no doubt that within a year, the cupboard will be all stuffed up again. Hoarding is a durable disorder.

    She hoarded up the giant 4 bedroom house she had before this small apartment. The insurance company dropped her policy because the house was in such bad shape. Then some of the hoard caught on fire and the house burned down. She lost everything.

    She started anew in a small subsidized senior apartment and it is extremely messy. She has to keep it somewhat in check though because the management does checks every 6 months. Her daughters come and purge and clean every 6 months, but it gets just as bad again. She's taken to hiding stuff in her car before their cleaning visits so she can keep things she wants.

    It's extremely frustrating to deal with on a continual basis.

  • Muddy Waters
    Muddy Waters

    Wow, thank you for your replies and advice and non-judgement! :)

    I will look up that book as soon as I can, Orphan Crow, thank you.

    Something must be done, and Blondie, the 4-box method sounds very practical and helpful, and just might work. I like the thought that clutter is a decision not made.

    I am not quite at hoarder stage, but I do have a tendency to buy more than one thing -- for example, if I am learning about something, anything, (yoga, dog training, photography, etc.) I end up buying a million different books on the subject.

    Great Teacher, I would love to hear more of your advice and suggestions. Your situation with mom in law sounds very frustrating indeed.

    Esse, I like your idea too and we have started to do some of that too! :)

  • Village Idiot
    Village Idiot
    I have a room mate which considers himself a minimalist. He helped me clear up some space in my living room. There was some stuff that I just did not want to let go so I put it all in a fifty gallon trash bin and put it in a corner of my bedroom.
  • eyeuse2badub

    Wife and I helped my uber jw MIL get rid of 65 years worth of stuff. She gave a lot of it away to older ones in her cong. That's the good.

    The bad----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The remainder of her crap is going to her "garaged sale for jehober" lol. NO sh*t, she is calling it her "garage sale for jehober!"


    just saying!


  • Spiral
    I have the same book Orphan Crow suggested (it's on Kindle), great read. Clutter just drags you down.
  • LisaRose

    I move about every ten years, it sort of forces you to purge. My husband's parents had to move after living sixty years in the same place, it was awful. My father in law didn't get rid of anything, and put off every decision to the last minute. Just keep reminding yourself that it's only THINGS, and things are not important, your relationships and freedom to have an orderly life are far important than any material possession. If it isn't usefor and doesn't bring you joy, get rid of it, no matter how much you paid for it or who gave it to you.

    I like Blondie's four box method, simple and doable. Another resource is the fly lady, http://flylady.net/. It's a forum for people that have trouble cleaning and organizing. She recommends something called the 27 fling boogie. You get a trash bag and pick out 27 things to throw away. You just keep doing that, a bit at a time so you don't get overwhelmed.

  • sowhatnow

    Ive read someplace that how we keep our homes reflects our lifestyle or mindset,

    so if your home is cluttered so is your mind or daily life. hmm.

    so if your disorganized, you might be a scatter brain? lol

    ok , so thats my mom, lol she can never find anything.

  • GrreatTeacher

    So, telling me that you like to buy more than one of things, for instance, multiple books about something that interests you gives me some good insight.

    Lots of times collectors are indecisive when trying to sort things because they can imagine more than one category for an item. So, how to sort it? Should the yoga book be put on the bookshelf or with the yoga materials? Should the photography book go on the bookshelf or should it be a coffee table book because of the beautiful photos?

    The key is to decide whether or not that is true for a particular item and then make a conscious decision one way or the other. Maybe the yoga book goes on your bookshelf (in the self-help section!), but the photography book stays out for all to see.

    Also, when sending an item to the bookcase, you realize that it's full, you might decide to put it in the donation box. Particularly if you've sorted your books and realized that you have a dozen books on yoga. Look through them all, consider their age and quality and purge 8 or so of them, keeping the newer ones and the ones that are better quality or have proved most useful for you in the past.

    Keep in mind that it's better to have fewer, but nicer things.

    If something smells of mildew, get rid of it. If it is old and in poor shape and you have a nicer, newer one, get rid of it. If you simply have enough of a category (maybe craft supplies?), it's okay to get rid of anything in excess of the amount that you have available storage for. (Teachers would love donations of craft supplies. They often purchase these supplies with their own money!)

    There is space for items that you have emotional attachments to. For instance, handwritten recipes, collect them in a small scrapbook or recipe box and keep them in the kitchen. Old schoolwork and drawings? See if you can purge half of them, then put the rest in a scrapbook. Put it on your bookshelf or display with pride. If it's hidden away, its memories are not being respected. Other small objects can be stored in decorative boxes or chests. Just choose the "keepers" carefully and don't exceed available and appropriate space.

    Papers are a problem. I have a problem in this area. Teachers collect lots and lots of papers and supplies. Also, I tend to keep old financial papers because I don't know what's safe to get rid of and what's not. There's always that stray medical bill that you get that you've already paid and you need proof for. But, I do have strategies.

    First, mail comes in and is sorted standing over the trash bin. Most of it gets tossed, bills go in my bill basket and anything that needs to be filed goes on top of the filing cabinet.

    Right now I am working on cleaning up the files. I'm sorting like files together (ie. medical or financial) and going through the individual file folders. Some can be tossed completely, like payment records for old cars. This is slow going. My goal, however, is to take what used to be a paper-strewn office and turn it back into a bedroom. I'm putting a small bed in there where I can escape to when my husband snores. That is my motivation. I did pay someone to help me get started, though. She came in, started cleaning and sorting and I threw away a lot of stuff. Once you could move around the room, I felt like I could keep going. I still get anxious walking by that room, but as I reach a milestone, I reward myself. I just bought myself some curtains for this room which makes it look better, which encourages me to do more.

    Once you hit the point where things are nice and tidy, there's so much incentive to continue to keep it functional.

  • Iown Mylife
    Iown Mylife

    Flylady.net is the ultimate guru on the subject - she is beloved! She has taught herself to be an effective teacher and motivator. Worth checking out!


  • OrphanCrow
    Greatteacher: Papers are a problem. I have a problem in this area. Teachers collect lots and lots of papers and supplies.

    Oh yeah. This was a huge problem for me. I sort of solved it, or at least, got some of it in hand, during one move that I made. I move a lot - it is terrible...I have moved over 45 times in my life. My daughter calls it 'gypsy feet'.

    I put a burning barrell out in my back yard and kept it burning for two weeks straight. I burned 99% of my university notes and such. But I still had so much that I packed and carried around. I had enough equipment to set up two darkrooms that I hauled all over the place. That finally went two moves ago - I kept a few pieces but most of it is in a landfill up north. My sentimental souvenir from my darkroom is a sweet vintage German made enlarger that I use for a lamp now.

    When I think of the trail of belongings I have left behind me, all across Canada, I wonder where it all is now. I have left some pretty nice stuff behind. Lots of art - paintings and drawings and stuff. I have no idea where it is now.

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