When I first met my husband, one of the experiences I remember is that he had moved out of his office into a lab because the TWO desks in his office were overflowing with paper (he doesn’t file, but he knows where things are by how deep they are in the pile). He had been given an ultimatum to move out of the lab, so he brought in two big garbage pails and basically gave the heave-ho to everything. I once joked that we should just rent a dumpster and pitch everything at home (or that it might be convenient if everything burned to the ground and we could start over).
So for him, it’s always a big enormous task to be put off to clean up clutter.
Today I tried something different and it occurred to me that it might be helpful. I had a small box (approx 10″ width x 14′ length x 5″ high) and simply went around the living room picking up things that needed to be elsewhere, until I had filled the box. Then I took them to where they belonged. It didn’t take long (although I did do several trips) and it was pretty easy. Jury is out on whether my husband will do the same but I’ve suggested it to him. Fingers crossed.
The trouble with us is that things trickle into the living room but never trickle out. It’s usually an avalanche type of affair to get them out!
I like the idea of a small box. Too small to store stuff in but big enough to get things cleaned up. I think I will try it myself tonight.
Most of my house is in boxes. That is how I used to clean. If someone was coming over I would get a box and throw in everything that was out of place. I would then shove the boxes anywhere they would be out of sight. Thus, my basement is half full of these boxes. My living room is half full of these boxes. My home office is half full of these boxes. The other half of the living room and my office and most of my bedroom and my dining room are all full of the boxes we brought home from cleaning out my mother-in-law’s house. It is a nightmare. I know exactly how you feel about the house burning down so you can start over. I have felt the same way on many occasions (like almost daily). NEVER ask an ADDer to clean out someone else’s house by themselves. Of course I just got stuck with it because I was the only one in the family that was available (unemployed/underemployed)
Every week I say I want to have a yard sale. I got tired of saying it to my daughter and having her give me that look, you know the one that non-ADDers give you when you say something you can’t possibly accomplish in the given time frame. We finally agreed, if I am actually ready for a yard sale by Thursday of any given week, we will have it on that Saturday.AnonymousInactive
LOL – “that look that non-ADDers give you when you say something you can’t possibly accomplish in the given time frame”. I am constantly saying I’m going to have a yard sale too, but my husband doesn’t want to help and it’s pretty hard to set one up and run it yourself.
Your description is pretty familiar. My husband is the one who puts things in boxes and then never cleans out the boxes. He’s also the one who said we’d empty one box a night, or a week (better make it a year!)
The little box thing is another twist on my “let’s do cleanup for 15 minutes, just see how far we can get and then stop”. Trying to break it into small manageable pieces. Who doesn’t have a little bit of misplaced clutter that just needs to be transported back to its home – assuming it has a home to begin with?
Have you been on the flylady.net website? My sister started talking about this “you can do anything for 15 minutes” thing years ago but of course I only half listened. She was talking about a book at the time and I know the flylady wrote a book so maybe its the same person? I actually tried it half-heartedly. Of course I had to change it varying the amount of time and then I just set it aside. I was going through some stuff at the time. I just can’t seem to gather enought energy to do anything sustainable. I get busy for a day or two, sometimes for a week then I take two or three weeks “off”. My husband is in the hospital again. He had an infection and then they put in the stuff for dialysis which he starts in 6 to 10 weeks. Whenever the infection is cleared up he goes back to the nursing home. That might have something to do with my energy level. Then again….AnonymousInactive
I’ve seen the flylady website and even subscribed but to be honest, I couldn’t find it useful and the constant emails that I didn’t have time to read were just plain stressful. I didn’t take the 15 minute thingy from her, just one day I got frustrated about the cluttery mess in our living room and in order to motivate both my husband and myself, I said “let’s just take 15 minutes and cleanup”. We actually got a lot done in that amount of time, but sadly, it needs to be done again and again.
Sorry to hear about your husband. That’s a whole ‘nother set of variables to deal with.
Well I think I have my problem pretty much figured out. Instead of selling the stuff in my house I am going to sell the people. 2 slightly used useless teenagers for sale. Pigpen and Pigheaded free to good home. No give backs or returns. You bought em you got em. Cleaned the main floor all day Friday. House was clean when I left yesterday afternoon. Had a job then went to a friends for supper. Got home at 10:30 pm (8 hours later) to find the house utterly destroyed again. Dishes stacked in the sink, open cans of food on the counters, garbage all over the floor. The laundry I folded thrown on the floor when they went looking for something. Someone even took the toilet paper holder and had thrown it into another room. But revenge was mine, they and their friends got to help me clean up again. Pigheaded’s friend asked if there was anything he wanted me to do. Boy amateur mistake but half an hour later the main floor had been mainly righted to how it looked earlier. And it guilted Pigpen and Pigheaded into helping out.
I remember fondly the pre kid age. I wasn’t any more organized then I am now but I could handle it better because I only had to do it once. I remember looking at the pitiful parents with disgust because their houses were a mess and you had to call a week in advance before you could visit. My friend insisted on driving me home last night. I insisted that I would be fine taking the bus because I cringe to think how the house comes across. Even when it is cleaned up it isn’t the perfect that I see at other people’s houses. The reason that so much of our stuff ends up in half boxes in our overfilled basement is because we have more stuff then places for it. My problem is one of hoarding. Everything has a sentimental value that is impossible to part with. When I get my house organized we are going to sell it, so we have hundreds of empty boxes. My friends that have clean houses usually do not keep things. If they buy something then they get rid of old useless items. And I usually volunteer to give it a good home. So I haul it home to keep company in my already packed house. If this house was razed to the ground tomorrow what would I really miss. I don’t take pictures unless we are out of the house. Because in the background I always see messes and clutter that should have been cleaned. When we go out I often forget or can’t locate the camera. Good thing there are school pictures to remind me of what the kids look like. What I need is to go away for a few weeks and let a company come in and get rid of anything they see as not needed. Before I go I could put away the things that are the most important to us. But DH and I are both collectors so unfortunately we would just fill it up again.
We moved across the country and before we left we got rid of a small house worth of stuff. Less then 2 years later we moved back and again had to get rid of a small house worth of stuff. Now after almost 6 years here we have again accumulated a basement full of things. Why can’t we just let things go? What we need is a Horder’s Anonymous group with 12 steps in the purging of items. Maybe I should just take pictures of the piles of items and post them on Kijiji and let people call if they see something they need. But maybe I will just go with my original idea and just purge myself of Pigpen and Pigheaded. 😆AnonymousInactive
The burning-to-the-ground solution seems to be a common thought here! Never heard of selling the teens, though. Won’t they be gone soon enough?
I was able to resist most of my parents’ stuff when we had to empty the contents and sell about 2 yrs ago, still have a few things including some nice teacups that I couldn’t part with, although I never have a tea party and I drink tea from mugs. Someone I saw this week said that one grieving person held a tea party, and brought out the good teacups that her mom used to have. Everyone had to come with a story about her late mom, and when they left, they got to take the teacup with them. I wonder how long it would take to do a similar thing with other household contents!
Maybe I should start some sort of club like that. Come for lunch, tell me a sob story, go home with something that reminds you of the person you are missing. Or they can just take the plate they ate off. How long until I would run out of plates and dishes from all the endless boxes of kitchen items I have downstairs. Then I could invite them to spend the night and they can start taking home sheets and blankets. Then there are the 6 boxes of towels. Maybe next winter when it is really cold I can take the boxes of papers from the basement and start a nice warming bonfire for the homeless. Forget going through the stuff, just burn it. Kids are all wearing odd socks now and I have 2 full boxes of odd socks. Maybe I can drop it off at the local youth hangout and they can all pick a few of their favourites. The ideas are endless. But then so is the stuff.
PS no-dopamine the new trend means that kids move out and move home endlessly. They move back with a bad attitude and without gratitude. Pigpen and Pigheaded are 18 and 13. So any takers.
I have been accused of being a horder. I don’t think I am. I just don’t seem to get around to cleaning out the boxes that I have thrown stuff in. I do have trouble throwing out something I consider useful.
I had trouble cleaning out my mother-in-laws house because I felt uncomfortable throwing away “someone elses” stuff. Also there was the constant “I want this” from my daughter. My husband, who was in a nursing home at the time, who kept asking me to find his boyscout uniform (which we never found) among other things. How do you throw away someone else’s memories? What should I send to my sister-in-law in California and what should I use to start a bonfire? What can we sell to help our my financial situation and what is just junk. SOO many questions!
I have been so burned out by all the tramatic events in my life since I lost my job in 2000. My husband was already “retired” because he had 3 heart attacks in 1994. Never could get him to apply for disability so the financial burden fell to me and his parents. My father-in-law was sick for 2 years then died. My husband stayed with his parents to take care of his father then his mother after his father died. In the mean time he got a MRSA infection in his foot that nearly killed him. While he was in the hospital, my sister-in-law took my mother-in-law to California for a visit where she had a stroke. That is how I got stuck cleaning out her house. Endless appointments with Would Care at the hospital to try to save my husband’s foot. After a year of that they had to remove his foot anyway. I was the one who had to say to him it was time. A year later, after trying to take care of him myself, his other foot had to be amputated for the same reason. My husband was expecting me and my daughter to give him 24/7 care at hospital level during the year in between amputations. We were totally exhausted after a few weeks of this and he got more and more demanding as time passed. I had nurses ask me how I stood being around him. He was being a total jerk, and jerk is not anywhere near strong enough a word but this is a pg-13 website. Just think of words for a totally self-absorbed, selfish, inconsiderate, self-important, demanding, insensitive idiot who always has to have his own way no matter where he is.
I am still burned out and overwhelmed by financial stress. Finding out that I am ADD actually made things worse. I dont have the money or correct insurance to get properly treated. I haven’t been able to keep a job for more than a few months. I have applied for another job as manager of the local gas station. They may be desparate enough to hire me. We have no electricity, my house is in the process of forclosure, I haven’t been able to pay my car insurance so it has been canceled, again. I had applied for this job once and it was filled and last thursday it opened up again. I had given up on getting a job and had applied for disability a week before the job opened again. I know I can do this job but my health problems might get in the way. I also thought I could be an insurance agent but they would not let me go into the field and being a telemarketer has not worked well. Well that is the bare bones of what is going on in my life.
What is funny is that I am considering the small box method of cleaning up my exteremly dirty house. Forever the optimist. I don’t think a drill press or a table saw will fit. Anyone want to buy some antique Haviland china?AnonymousInactive
My sister-in-law is the garage sale junkie, and she says that you don’t get much these days for household contents. So let people take what they want (make sure your own family has room for what they want, have them get rid of some stuff to make room) and then give away the rest or call an estate auctioneer to give you a reasonable assessment of what it would be worth to hold an onsite estate sale. Just beware of them wanting to haul it away to storage because you’ll pay for them to move it and for storage.
My grandparents had lovely china but nobody wanted it. And it wasn’t worth a helluva lot on the market. But someone, not our family, will enjoy it.
It’s just STUFF. We add the emotional content to it “It’s Mother’s favourite” etc. Well, Mother isn’t around anymore to enjoy it and she won’t know if we toss it in the dump or give it away.
I wish my parents had done their own purge so we didn’t have to do it for them. It was major work and really hard to do, but at least my sister-in-law was sensible about it. For the grandkids who were too young to pick out things (they were kept away from the house while this went on), she made them each up a box of what she thought they might appreciate as they got older.
We also took lots of photos of the china before boxing it up so we have those memories if we care to spend time reminiscing. That’s a popular suggestion.
Now take that little box and fill it up!
Well logically I know you are right but when I look at some of this stuff its still “this is my husbands stuff” or “this is my Mother-in-law’s stuff”. Antiques Roadshow has not made this easy! I am afraid I’m going to be the one to give away the $100,000 flower pot or the $250,000 old toy. Well, I still have emotional baggage to toss out.
When you add the hoarding of guilt to the myriad of other things we end up hoarding it is paralyzing. As for things that you feel might be valuable ask a couple of local antique dealers in your area to come and give you an estimate for an estate sale. When my grandmother got older she sat down with my sister and made up a detailed multi-page list of who got what. The minute she died the list disappeared and my greedy relatives all helped themselves. I was the one to go over and help her clean while she was alive and take her grocery shopping. What did I get when she died. I got a broken tea set, a broken silver tray, some 10 dollar figurines. My sister kept the silverwear that was given to me but grandma entertained quite a bit so I left it with her, the spoons, the tea set that I had given her, my water cooler and on and on. But I also got a lot of memories of time spent with her when she was alive and a very valuable lesson for when I get older.nellieMember
no-dopamine your suggestions are all really good. When my mother-in-law passed away my sister-in-law spent three months in another state away from her own family cleaning out her mother’s apartment ( not house! 3 months!!!) I said to myself at the time I don’t want to do that to my kids so want to get rid of stuff.
The thing is, it’s the getting rid of that’s the issue, not the method. I was cracking up reading all the posts about boxes and baskets – that’s me to a tee ( or is it tea?)! I have banned myself from buying any more containers and for the most part I listen to my self. I think we have 4 different cute baskets just for for remotes and little stuff and another 4-5 for books and magazines in our TV room. They’re totally full of all kinds of nonsense. And that’s not counting the ones that have made it to the basement for “storage” until I have “time” to sort through it!
The fill up a box method works great on the days I’m really motivated, so I hope my motivation kicks in by tomorrow because I have a party on the week-end to clean up for!AnonymousInactive
nellie, at least you have baskets where the “things” reside. That makes it easier to remove them in a pinch.
Sigh ….. my baskets are large tote boxes and extremely heavy …..
Have a great party! We are sooooo far from being able to hold a party with our clutter-laden home.nellieMember
Thanks no-dopamine but if anyone came over right now I’d be doomed I should make a do-do list and post it in the forum kind of like a twitter thing -then re-post each time something gets done!
I wonder if your Facebook status can be changed to Suffering from CHAOS – Can’t have anyone over syndrome?
And if it makes you feel any better, the “things” are always having boarders who live with them in their baskets. Yesterday my husband was driving me nuts to find his passport which he couldn’t find for a business trip, and I searched high and low through the entire house. FInally sat down in “my” chair to think where it could possibly be and saw the stupid thing in plain view in one one of the remote baskets sitting in the corner on the floor. Which reminds me, why do we need 10 remotes? We only have one TV? Whenever I ask my husband, I walk away feeling like I just spoke with a master politician, I’m no further enlightened and we still have the remotes a year later!
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