The last five months I’ve been suffocating in stuff.
Not just any old stuff, but the stuff of 30 years plus of collecting and hoarding.
Until last year we were living in New Zealand, with not too much stuff – we’d moved a couple of times and each time our stuff got less and less – you need less to live than you realise.
And then my dad died and I wanted to do the honourable thing and help my mum to reclaim her home from my dad’s stuff.
He was both a collector and a hoarder.
A collector of everything too, so it seems.
Star Trek models, Star Wars models, diecast vehicles, diecast soldiers, coins, stamps, pin badges, cricketania (that’s cricket memorabilia to you and me), militaria, autographs, records.
The list could go on and on.
He was a hoarder of all sorts, but mostly items that arrived in the post and receipts. And let’s not forget the prepping – 12 bottles of bleach and handwash, 20 lots of rubbish bags (been handy!), the 240 razors, 12 cans of shaving foam, hundreds of pens.
We’re living in a three bedroom home, with a study and double garage. Imagine that packed so tightly you can barely move. Imagine a lounge where you can’t walk more than a foot in front of the couch. A place where the act of moving one thing leads to clutter immediately elsewhere.
Welcome to my life.
I’ve made some great progress, or at least, I like to think I have, but because there is still so much in here it’s hard to feel good about it.
Once we’ve decluttered as much as we can the next project starts – redecorating the entire house head to toe.
Why? Because it’s been 30 years and the carpet is threadbare in places (and reeks of the 1980s).
(I should also add that my Grandpa died nine years ago and my mum has a lot of his stuff in the house and garage that she didn’t know what to do with – paperwork mostly – so I’m helping clear that too).
When you’re dealing with a huge project like this it’s important to celebrate the wins.
Among mine are:
- Donating items to charity shops and getting emails from them informing us of the hundreds of pounds they have received as a result.
- Donating craft items to a community arts space, something that dad would have enjoyed and knowing his arts and crafts supplies are being put to good use.
- Donating stationary to the local school association.
- Donating other items to the foodbank (razors and shaving foam mostly).
- Making money on ebay and donating to my London Marathon fundraising (British Liver Trust in memory of dad)
- Being able to see the floor!
- Walking all the way around the garage
The study might not look like it’s made much progress, but trust me, it is so much more organised than before.
It doesn’t look like that currently though – as I write there’s a washing machine and fridge freezer in there as we are getting the kitchen floor redone.
The kitchen we refitted several years ago but the floor wasn’t touched, so until now it’s been a mish mash of carpet, old tiles and concrete. I cannot wait for it to be finished!
I’m going to share more of this journey with you.
I want you to know that if you have clutter, be it your own or something you’ve inherited, then it’s okay.
You don’t have to suffocate in stuff. You can be free of it, and even though it may time some time, it will be worth it in the end.
Today’s tip is this: Just start. It doesn’t matter where or with what, choose a box, a cupboard, a draw. One thing to go through.