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Why do things have to get worse before they get better???

Sunday, November 03, 2013

We've been married for 11 years. When we moved into this house, we brought most of what we each had in our "before" houses. That included stuff from our parents, an aunt, a few things I was storing for my grown up children... I think you get the picture.

To make things worse, we are both voracious readers and have thousands of books between us. I have lots of sewing, knitting and other craft supplies. DH collects stamps, coins, icons, postcards and has a huge amount of model railway equipment. We have more "stuff" on our walls than some galleries. No real theme, just things we like. China cabinet, kitchen cupboards... all full... and boxes of dishes downstairs. Ditto for old linens... the kind that people lovingly embroidered or crocheted... but that can't just be thrown in the washer and dryer, and actually have to be ironed.

I don't want our kids to have to clean up this mess someday. I want us to sort through it, pick out specific things for our 4 children (after pinning them down to what they really WANT), then sell, donate or throw away the rest.

We started in a very small way yesterday, by cleaning under the basement steps and going through an old trunk, 6 boxes of DD#2's books, and several boxes of dishes. The books, mostly from university 20 years ago and mostly soft-covered, were easy... recycle. Saved the history books for DD#3 to check and the fiction for me. Trunk was mostly silver plate. Some from my first wedding, some picked up at auctions. Does anyone want silver plate any more? Will check with an antique consignment shop. Ditto for old dishes and ornaments.

It's a slow process, and sad at times. Found medals that a friend of the family got in WW1. He married but had no family. Will check whether the regiment has a museum... If not, maybe my son would like them. Two of my children will probably never have children... Who will get/want their things?

Now that we've started, I think this will be an all-winter project. WooHoo! I can see emptier spaces in our future. emoticon emoticon emoticon

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
ALIHIKES 11/6/2013 7:59PM

    Great job in organizing the possessions. I helped my mom when she moved to the retirement apartment; it was almost overwhelming to her, with 50+ years in the same home, to sort through her treasured items. It is great that you are doing this NOW! I am trying to also prune through my items.

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MEADSBAY 11/4/2013 9:46PM

    This task is a HUGE gift of love you give to your children.
I have seen firsthand several times the sad aftermath of leaving it for the grieving survivors to do.
They will not or cannot take the time and make the thoughtful difficult decisions that you can make right now.
I kicked and screamed but am so grateful that my dh pushed me into downsizing 8 years ago before I retired. And we STILL have too much stuff!

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CLAIREINPARIS 11/4/2013 3:01PM

    It is a very brave project, but so worth it! My parents' house is packed and I don't know what I'll do when the day comes when I have to sort everything out!

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JOYCECAIN 11/4/2013 9:30AM

    In my last apartment I had needs. 2 sets of plates, or I should say 2 serving sets, no extras. My sister is the same way. Nothing is here that isn't needed to survive. Minimal everything. My grandparents and our parents had so much stuff. It changed how we had things.

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KATHRYNLP 11/4/2013 9:14AM

    Something in the back of my mind, too. We all are hoarders of 'things we collect'.
I've been throwing out piles of magazines, and donating tons of books in the past few years. The real battle will begin with Bob's tool shed and work shop.
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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ZEEDRA 11/4/2013 9:10AM

    Good luck! My son is an only child and he and Mary have no children. They are talking about who to leave things to now. I find this much, much sadder than my own situation.

PS: I thought the pop psychology says that the left-brain people are the logical ones?

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    that sounds like a big project, you can do it if you go one box at a time.

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MENNOLY 11/3/2013 8:24PM

    Good luck! It is a hard job. I have been dithering over my DD1 art projects for a week. She left them because she does not want them and I just haven't been able to toss them out. I promise that I will do that this week. It is hard when one is a pack rat LOL

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NORASPAT 11/3/2013 8:15PM

    We are not alone for certain.
We have a small ranch house. Each son had their own room and when they moved out they left everything. Once they are off to college they seem to be disinterested till the occasional visits home and they find their things and I feel sure they were treasures. Now they have their own apartments or houses and they have no room right now. We all know they will be hoarding just like us. We had them home in August for our anniversary and I said spend time in your closets and totes and tell me WHAT TO KEEP. Your decision. I am still taking the old text books, old notebooks etc little by little into recycling or in to the trash.
This week is the kids books, off to a church group and now I know they have a yard sale soon I am getting the piles together.
I will let you know if I follow through.
PS my DH has model Railway HO scale most from his youth in the 50,s.
I am a fabric Hoarder but these days I mostly do alterations for myself after 25 years for others. Pat in Maine. emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MADAMES 11/3/2013 6:34PM

    I know exactly!! This is the big project that I have been putting off, but now I resolve to get it done! We can check on each other as we progress...

I don't plan to spend more than an hour a day working on it. (If I choose to keep going after an hour, I reserve the right to make that decision.)

Also, I will never bring in more than one box or one drawer at a time. I don't want to create the kind of mess you describe, because I get easily discouraged when I feel as if I am in over my head.
emoticon emoticon emoticon

Good luck to both of us!

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PATRICIAANN46 11/3/2013 5:54PM

  Hi Gail.........
Two summers ago, during a heat-wave, my DH and I did the same thing in our basement. We moved here 15 years ago and had done a pretty good job of sorting and then storing what we kept in LABELED plastic bins. Have you ever watched a comedian named Jeanne Robertson? She is hysterical!!! You can find her on You-Tube. She calls her husband Left-Brain. He is very intelligent and has a Doctorate degree, but has many Left-Brain qualities.......hence the name!!! Well, I think that my DH deserves the same title!!!!! After all of the sorting and labeling of bins, for whatever reason, he chose to change the contents, but NOT the labels!!!!! I have NO IDEA where anything is and have to look forever for whatever I am searching for. We worked so hard two summers ago, and I have to start all over again. He is forbidden to go anywhere near the bins again. I will bring up whatever he needs.
It is a job-well-done when completed...........if left that way. emoticon

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    I keep STARTing that project myself... but I keep getting overwhelmed with all the decisions and then just burn myself out. When I want to do 'Wall push-ups" I have to do them on a closed door. I have no blank wall space. I suppose I could do them against a bookcase... would they then become "Bookcase push-ups"?

Good luck with your project.. keep me posted, maybe you will inspire me to get back on the sort, keep, recycle (find new home), trash... wagon. What if I had to move into a retirement or nursing home.... I want to choose what happens to "my stuff", not my children disposing of "mom's junk".

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VINGRAM 11/3/2013 3:01PM

    That's a tough job. You have made a good start! emoticon

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