No matter what stage of life you are in, if you are trying to keep clutter free, try these rules of thumb:
1. For every item you bring into your home, something else has to be removed.
2. BEFORE you buy an item, determine where you are going to put it. Do you really have room?
3. Determine to remove several boxes of ‘stuff’ from your home every year. You may do a garage sale, Craigslist, or the local thrift store. Personally, Idaho has several charities that you receive tax credit for donations. You don’t have to itemize to get this credit. I plan to max those credits every year in an effort to minimize clutter and my tax bill.
Clearing a Parent’s Home
1. Keep in mind what is important are the memories, not the stuff. Take a picture of the items; record stories about the items. If possible have your parents participate in recording the stories. Their voice adds richness to the memories.
2. Do you enjoy the item or feel burdened by it? Do you feel like a steward? If your loved one was passionate about Hummel’s, pottery, books or other collectables, and you are not, don’t burden yourself with the collection. You may consider keeping a token of the collection as a memory.
3. It is never too early to start clearing clutter and finding new homes for your possessions. It is a much harder job to do in a crisis mode. Nobody complains about having too much time.
4. You may want to start giving away collectables to friends and family as gifts. You can see their delight and enjoyment of the item.
5. Sometimes elderly are reluctant to get rid of their possessions, especially if they are from the depression era. You might try sorting items and sharing stories about the possessions. If you know you don’t want it, box it for ‘safe keeping’; store it in the basement or storage unit. You have it if they ask and have a good start when it is time to clear the house. Items you are keeping put notes of sentimental significance with the items. Your children may appreciate the effort later.
6. Small steps make the job easier. Clear a shelf, box, or closet. Make it a journey, share stories with a loved one as you go. I know we had a couple of trunks, I wished we had the stories behind the items stored there.