Question: Dear Luise: My husband and I are having a lot of trouble regarding what comprises “normal” storage. It’s not the age-old battle between a “keeper” and a “thrower.” We are both “keepers” and want to get a handle on it. Every drawer, cabinet, and closet is full and so are the basement and garage. We even have a storage locker. We don’t like living in all of this clutter but we have no idea what to do, or how to even approach it. Do you have this problem? If you don’t, do you have any constructive ideas? Thank you so much. Nelda
Answer: Dear Nelda: Well, I’m a “thrower”, so we don’t have very much in common. However, that could be a positive not a negative. And there is no “normal”, of course. My sister thinks my house looks like nobody lives here. What’s normal for me isn’t for her.
The most disappointing thing about keeping every little and big thing “in case you need it later” for most of the “keepers” I know, is that they often don’t know where ”it” is when “it’s” needed…and have to go out and get a new one.
If you both sincerely want to put this behind you, and it sounds like you do, I would suggest that you create a plan. How about tackling one room at a time? You could leave the garage, basement and storage unit until you have some solid wins to your credit. How about starting with the bedroom? My rule of thumb is if I haven’t worn it often in the last year, someone else should get a shot at it. It helps me to know that our local Thrift Store provides a viable service and people need my stuff. I also don’t allow crowding in my closet. Too much of anything in too little space can be messy. You can go through your stuff and your husband can sort through his. Then…off it goes. When I’m cleaning, I always make three piles…what stays, what goes to the dump or the shredder and what we donate to others. We all just wear just so many outfits on a regular basis. The rest adds confusion. When I get a new outfit or a new pair of shoes, I purge my closet and removed something similar.
If you’re the cook, the kitchen will be your job. Approach it with the same jaundiced eye you used on your closets and drawers. If you have a shop, your husband will probably need to take that on. Support each other in this endeavor. If your have an office, purge your files and supplies the same way.
Don’t hurry with the project. Do a room and go out and celebrate. Then take some time off. Share what’s left and see if it makes sense to both of you, but don’t be tempted to pick through each other’s discards! Eventually you can give up the storage unit and maybe spend that money on a night out or a trip!
Two “keepers” who want to be free of clutter are two very wise people in my book! Blessings, Luise