Wednesday, April 24, 2013


My Noddy Plate...

It's been a week...

...a LONG week, a hard week, a "Don't ever do this to your kids!" week...

We've been helping my father downsize (from a house he's lived in since the 60's) to a great little condo.  He's happy with the move and settling in well AND we're all very happy with the fact that he's now living close to my sister.

But, oh my!  

The furniture had been moved and the essential, important "stuff" transferred BUT, after 45 years, so much was left behind.  

Oh, my... oh, my... oh, my...

Here's what we learned from the experience.  

1. Ahead of time, lay out on paper ALL the things that need to be done. That way, everyone is on the same page. We didn't accomplish everything on our list, but we knew the direction we were headed.  

2. Take time to prepare.  Bring along pencils, Sharpies, masking tape, sticky notes, scissors, tape measure (Will this fit in the new place?), garbage bags, extra-strength bags, boxes, shredder, screwdriver and other tools.  The list goes on, but take time to brainstorm what you might need.  Take multiples so you're not all hunting for the one Sharpie!  Don't assume you'll be able to find any of these things in the house.  Keep these items in one spot.  

3. Think of you and your workers.  Do you have water bottles, coffee, food?  Pace yourselves.  Take frequent breaks.  If you're tired, you'll get sloppy as you sort.

4. Work in teams.  Being able to chat, tease, and encourage each other helps!  As the key team, my sister and I sorted the important items and made decisions.  As we entered each room, we had three bags (paper recycling, plastic recycling, garbage) plus a box each for "keep".  Kids were standing by to remove bags to "exit" points.  

5. Have appropriate jobs lined up for other teams.  Use your master list of "things to be done" to help you.  Some people helping us couldn't do the sorting but they were able to help in other, important ways.  My son-in-law and nephew removed picture hooks and patched cracks in preparation for painting.  My husband and brother-in-law did some important minor repairs.  Nobody felt they didn't have a valuable job.

6. Give everyone a "My Stuff" corner.  Everyone had a corner somewhere to put items they wanted to keep.  My corner grew into half a room (My name is Maggie.  I am a hoarder...).  It was easier and quicker, however, to put things in my corner as "maybe" items.  At the end of our stay, I cut the pile by two thirds.  (Knowing it had to fit in my car helped!)

7. Determine exit points.  This hallway for bags of garbage, this room for the "donate" pile, etc.

8. Organize vehicles.  Someone needs to methodically remove full carloads to the recycling centre, thrift stores, new location, etc.  Before the big day (or week, sigh), determine where these places are located and when they're open.  What are the "rules" for that community's recycling?  What will you do with all those bags of garbage?

9. If the senior is involved in the clearing out, be sensitive.  No groaning, no complaining. No comments when you find three lawnmowers (two not working) under the deck. Even if you can sit comfortably on the floor while eating your pizza lunch, keep back a chair and small table (for sorting "stuff") for anyone elderly. Find a central location to position the senior.  If there are questions,  he or she is easy to locate.  Have one person partner the senior,  bringing small piles of paper over to sort and taking away paper and items to the appropriate exit spot.  Watch for signs of the senior growing tired.  Take breaks.  Naps if needed.  Or, take the senior with you for the drive if you're taking plastic and paper to the recycling. (No trips to donation centres - it's hard to see your stuff being given away, even if you made the decision.)

10. Wait!  It's your turn! The story's not over.  When you take home a carload of mementoes, take every box OUT of the car and place it just inside the front door!  Over the next few days, work through each box.  DO NOT stash boxes in the basement, attic or garage.  : ) 

Did I mention the "DO NOT DO THIS TO YOUR KIDS!" part?   

We've started to declutter our own place.

My name is Maggie.

I am a hoarder...

Have a great day,

1 comment:

  1. What a great list! My name is Kc and I am NOT a hoarder, sometimes wish I was as I have never been one to keep things... I know that this situation is in front of me with my Mom and I have promised my little sister that I will spend a month in Michigan when it is time. No way we could do it in a week! My Mom could get a hoarders award. Just the basement will take a couple weeks!