This week I have started to work on a house that is filled with ‘stuff’. In fact, it’s a hoarding home filled with: memorabilia, un-opened items, clothes (new and old), antiques, and various items from the past. To create a visual for you, imagine this: when the front door opens and you walk through, there is only one path to walk as there are items and things (stuff) on either side. That’s the entire main floor. Moving down to the walk-out basement, there is barely a path as one has to walk over boxes and items to see the entire basement. The floor is barely visible. Without going into too much detail, I am working with the homeowners daughter to get the house in shape to sell. By ‘in shape’ I mean getting the house empty! The daughter has expressed that it’s her mom that has a hard time letting go of things and that she herself, also has a hard time letting go. The homeowners have already moved out and into their new place.
As I got a tour of the home there was one consistent message that I kept on hearing: That probably should go…..but I think I’ll keep that.
We have been there for 2 days and have made some serious progress. We’ve managed to take out one half-ton truck of items to Good Will and to recycling. We also managed to take out 2 old refrigerators, an old freezer, and 3 old TV’s.
We still have a ways to go and we’re looking at about 100 hours of work for this home! Yes, that’s not a type-o. An estimated 100 hours of work! As I work with the daughter, we’ve had some really good discussions about keeping items, where they’re going to go, and the ‘why’ behind keeping items. With hoarding, there is always a good reason to keep items and there typically is a story behind each item. The fact is, everything you own has a story behind it. The clothes I just bought my daughter last week were the first clothes I bought her to start her grade nine school year. The football helmet that my son just bought is for his first Senior High football team. The computer that I’m writing on is the very first computer that I bought when I started my own company. Will I keep any of these items? Absolutely not. My daughter’s clothes will get passed onto her cousin, my son’s football helmet will probably get sold to purchase a new, bigger one – when needed. The computer will probably end up eventually going to recycling when it becomes a dinosaur.
The fact is, a person can not keep everything. When thinking of your home, you only have so much real estate inside to keep items. My ‘rule of thumb’ is this:
If it is important for you to keep it, then you should enjoy it in your daily living.
By that, I mean: if items are going to sit in a box in the attic or under the stairs, how are you enjoying it?
We are taking the rest of the week off of our hoarding house as I’ve left the daughter some homework. Her homework is to go through the piles that we’ve sorted and decide what to keep and what to put into the give- away/donate/recycle/sell pile. We have to do this house in stages as it is just so overwhelming. We are also doing this home in stages as it’s both physically and emotionally draining. We do know that in the end, the house will be empty and ready to sell.
Sheri Bruneau – Get It Together Inc.