As well as I can bring lightheartedness and fun into the dirty and emotional task of extreme clutter, I also need to be bluntly honest at times…even when it’s unpleasant.
Today will be one of those days, Sunshines. I’m passing out crash helmets as we speak.
If you have a serious amount of clutter, please please PLEASE get it cleaned up. If you feel resistant to this, do it for this one reason:
To make it a little easier on your loved ones when you go.
I know…not something we want to think about. However, kicking the bucket is not a matter of “if” but a matter of “when.”
This year I’ve worked with many people to clean out after someone has passed. These homes ranged from extremely cluttered to full-blown hoarder. It’s heartbreaking to see my clients go through SO many hard emotions. Confused why certain (or most things) were kept. Anger that it was dumped on them when they just need to grieve the lost person. Guilt for not forcing a cleanup before the person passed. Shame on throwing away a “lifetime” even though the loved one isn’t in those things. Add to it the sheer waste of so many things ruined because they weren’t properly taken care of.
Seriously, the majority of extreme clutter that isn’t actual trash has become trashed due to improper storage and just the general breakdown of things. Unfortunately when so many were saving for “just in case” or “it’ll be valuable” or to pass down to future generations.
On top of the emotion can be major expense to clean out. In one home I worked with it took 9 people more than 70 hours to clean up. Total man hours were much higher. We don’t even think about the final financial tally on this one. Let’s just say you could buy yourself a fiiiiine piece of auto engineering and have plenty left for an extravagant meal.
And a cocktail. (Though at that point you may want the whole bottle.)
Those without the financial means either spend YEARS of their weekends cleaning out or they throw their money away one month at a time by shoving everything into a storage unit for the proverbial “later” that doesn’t exist.
Do you really want to do that to someone you love?
In my experience, the majority of your things will go in the trash. Or – even worse – the family will fight to the point that they may never speak again.
Over your things.
What once meant nothing to someone will now cause them to become so nasty that they’ll cause a rift that can never be healed. I’ve heard it all and it can be downright DISGUSTING what family members will do to each other after a loved one dies, especially if it was the patriarch or matriarch of the family.
Sunshines, there’s no way around it. The situation f-ing sucks.
I know I’m being harsh but it’s necessary for people to hear. Bright side, you get to have a better home! While you’re alive! You absolutely deserve a fabulous home and a vibrant quality of life. Excessive clutter will NEVER support that.
So where to start?
- Spend 15-30 minutes every single day letting go of what you don’t need. Set a timer, find an area and remove what doesn’t make you better at this very moment. Then GET IT OUT OF THE HOUSE. It’s IMPERATIVE to create space. If 15-30 minutes is overwhelming then do just 5. Baby steps TOTALLY count!
- If you shut down completely on thought of it, hire a professional organizer. It’s our job to help you through it. Find one that specializes in your situation – especially hoarding – and whose personality and organizational style you mesh with. This is really personal and you need someone you trust implicitly.
- If you have depression, anxiety or any other mental illnesses, seek out a psychological pro. Clutter and mental illness play a vicious cycle with each other. You don’t feel well so you don’t address the clutter. Then the clutter weighs you down more exasperating the illness, which prohibits you from addressing the clutter, and so on and so forth. Break this B.S. in any way you can! I recommend psych to my clients all the time. These two pros can be an awesome combo to help you clear out and move forward.
- Take care of yourself! Go for a walk or to the park and get some fresh air. Eat fresh, whole foods that provide you with solid nutrition. Go to the spa. Go to the museum. Play tourist in your own town. Take a yoga class. The key here is to care for yourself, have fun and get out of the house. Most importantly, while you’re doing this, DO NOT feel guilty that you’re not cleaning your house. Having fun and getting away from the “monkey house” will give you a different perspective and the energy necessary to let go of the clutter.
The person that created the quote “he who dies with the most toys wins” is a nitwit. You don’t win. You leave behind a fat, hot mess for someone else to clean. Let go of what you don’t need, and live a fabulous life, Sunshine. That’s how you win.
Melinda is the sassy, redheaded best friend you always wanted. Called everything from slave-driver to life-saver to organizing ninja, her natural organizing skills and vivacious attitude will make getting organized suck less.
Melinda works with mildly cluttered to mildly hoarded people all over the country. She’s also teamed with extreme-cleaning crews to safely clear out massive clutter situations. She was named “Best Personal Organizer” by Fort Worth, TX Magazine and her tips have been featured in Shape, Woman’s Day, and WeTV as well as many other local and national publications.
When not clearing clutter, Melinda enjoys performing as a supernumerary with the Fort Worth Opera, yoga, cooking, and eating indulgent food, and believes that champagne is meant for the everyday.