Home Forums Welcome Hello! Family members during decluttering

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  • #158996
    Avatar of ninakk
    ninakk
    Member

    Lately, it seems like some of us have brought up the aspect of family during our respective decluttering projects and I thought the topic is important enough to give a thread of its own. People who spend a lot of time and energy on thinking about these things are in the zone, whereas partners and children might not be as into it as we are.

    How can we best tackle it, how can we stay the most productive and positive, so that our loved ones don’t feel like we are stepping on their toes just because we are a bit ahead?

    We want everyone on board and what can we do to ignite the joy in partners?

    How can this lifestyle be taught to our kids, so that they realize benefits and the positive aspects, instead of maybe being bullied by classmates who have “more”?

    Nagging can kill a lot, but unfortunately it seems to go the other way (in our direction) at times, too. How can we stay calm amidst this big change? There are many wise ladies and gentlemen lurking around, so let’s talk!

  • #176645

    Family members during decluttering

    $5.00 gift cards for each garbage bag/box of garbage/recycling from their rooms. This offer does not apply to my partner, as money is not a motivation!

  • #176651

    Family members during decluttering

    My daughter is 3, so we are lucky to be able to start talking about putting things back where they belong and other aspects of uncluttering pretty much from the beginning–and at a stage when taking things out of their containers and then putting them all back in is endlessly fascinating. She also goes to a Montessori school; part of the Montessori philosophy emphasizes training in everyday skills, like wiping up spills, putting away toys, etc., so we are lucky that things we want to emphasize at home also get emphasized there.

    My husband does not take a lot of initiative to do things on his own, but will generally do a task that’s been pointed out for him, so there’s a lot of “Honey, the VVA [charity pickup] people are coming tomorrow at 8 am, can you go through your stuff and see if there’s anything you want rid of?”

    I also point out how nice things look after he does them. “Wow, the kitchen looks so great!” (after he’s done all the dishes and cleaned up).

    I also (slightly) brag about my decluttering accomplishments, particularly when he’s benefiting from them. “Aren’t the taxes so much easier when all the paperwork is filed correctly?” “Isn’t it great that we can find all of the remotes?” (I feel like a dork doing this but it seems to be effective.)

  • #176652
    Avatar of pkilmain
    pkilmain
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    I have the opposite problem. My DH is the neat/tidy/clean freak (meant in the nicest way, mostly) in this relationship. He went through all the stages with me that you all seem to hit with your spouses, and realized finally that none of them worked long term. Yes, I would clean up certain areas, and then let them get cluttered again. At some point (and we’ve been living together as GF/BF and then DW/DH for nearly 40 years) we came to an understanding that the public and shared areas of the house, in our case the kitchen, living, bedroom and bathroom, would be kept clean and clutterfree, and they are. I have never had a problem keeping things normally clean, just keeping them uncluttered. But he has an abiding need for deep cleaning. As I’ve mentioned, we’re leaving tomorrow for 4 weeks away. Since Wed or Thurs he’s been doing what I’d call a full spring cleaning. All the floors are washed (down on his hands and knees), the tub and shower walls have been scoured, the fridge emptied and cleaned, the fridge pulled away from the wall and cleaned behind and the coils vacuumed. While washing the floor he slipped on the wet soapy floor and fell down the stairs and now has a badly bruised lower back, turning very interesting colors, which will not be comfortable on a 9 hour plane ride. Anyway, I did have a point here, I think….

    Oh, that while I think you can work with your children, teaching them when they’re young enough – like Danielle, and how nice the school reinforces this! – or with something that motivates them, and really you have a lot more leverage than with your SO or spouse. But the latter really have to come to it on their own. I did, and frankly I’m loving the result, but it’s taken me a long long time to get here….

  • #176654

    Family members during decluttering

    Great topic — I am reaching the point where unless DH takes a more active role I can’t move much further along, and I might just have to be content with that. That has been the place where I am trying to be: content. I can change him, I can’t declutter his stuff: all I have power over is myself, and I have to be happy with that.

    However, some things have worked for me:
    (1) Setting limits about what can be left in common and public places. For example, we went (several years ago) from paper all over the dining room (HUGE stacks) to a small wicker basket on a shelf under a side table. That’s his limit (although I still haven’t completely excised the smallish piles on the dining table!)
    (2) I do talk about the benefits in a non-nagging way once or twice a month. I try to hit on topics that I know of are interest to him. For example — not having to buy things we already own because we can now find them; being kinder to the environment, etc.
    (3) I use “I” statements that state my requests in terms of my needs and wants rather than in terms of what he is doing wrong.

    There’s more — out to dinner now!

  • #176657

    Family members during decluttering

    I agree with susanintexas (what part of TX, btw, I grew up in Houston.)

    My DH is very cluttered and sloppy. We’ve been together 22 yrs, (married the last 13) and have reached a nice balance.

    Another thing that I’ve come to recently is that it’s better for me to ask him a few times to move/clean/toss something than it is for me to ask once, get frustrated, and do it for him. The ‘doing it for him’ becomes a slippery slope and I quickly start to whine and be resentful. Blech.

    Great topic!

  • #176661
    Avatar of JuliaJayne
    JuliaJayne
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    About mid-point in my uncluttering efforts, when my enthusiasm was spilling over, I was talking about it all the time. I told the husband why I was doing it, how it made me feel and that I would like his help eventually, so the whole house would feel open and airy. I think he was already feeling the changes and could appreciate them. I think that before we can expect anyone else to follow us, we have to be 80% done uncluttering our own stuff. We also have to keep common spaces, like the kitchen and fridge, the bathroom, etc., uncluttered and organized. All that said, my husband was never messy, although we discovered that he too was a bit of a packrat.

    My son grew up with me working with him in his bedroom to get rid of things he wasn’t playing with, so he regularly throws out stuff he no longer wants.

  • #176662
    Avatar of Jude2004
    Jude2004
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    I don’t worry about them–sort of. The worst offender is my daughter. When she cooks, she saves all the compostable items from the cooking, then leaves them sitting in the kitchen for what seems like days. Her stuff is in every room, even though she doesn’t live her most of the time. What’s working? Teaching her. I sent her blogs about uncluttering, had her watch season 1 of Hoarders, and now she’s reading about minimalism. It’s gradually working. She isn’t as unpleasant to live with (and she’ll be gone in April when her job starts again).

  • #176666
    Avatar of bandicoot
    bandicoot
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    i am fortunate.
    my husband isn’t too direly sloppy and untidy.
    and he certainly doesn’t own a lot of stuff….nor does he seem to want to own a lot of stuff.
    he was a bit perturbed when i started the decluttering in earnest 24 months ago…..but i showed him a few clips from hoarders and i quote stuff from the blogs, and he is mostly on board with what i am doing.
    now, if i could just get him to return things to where he found them!
    i have PEEP operating nicely here, but he likes to leave stuff lying about.
    fortunately, there is hardly any stuff to start with, so it isn’t as horrible as it could be.

    and i KNOW that he sees the benefits of decluttering.
    our home is almost unrecognisable from two years ago….and we didn’t even have all that much stuff to start with.

  • #176679
    Avatar of MellieTX
    MellieTX
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    JuliaJayne, great point. I agree that people are more likely to join the process if they are already benefitting from it. And absolutely most of my issues with clutter have to be dealt with before anyone else will care what I have to say about it!

  • #176680
    Avatar of Rosa
    Rosa
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    My partner’s not super attached to stuff (though he is very messy, and not bothered by clutter). So if I clean all of *my* stuff out of an area, and then say to him, all right I need you to go through your stuff in this area, he will. Especially if I’m doing the work of hauling it away after he decides.

    I’ve also tried to make cleanup easy for everybody. So my son has a toybox in the living room, all toys downstairs just go in there. My partner has a mini toolbox (a 5 gallon bucket with a big pocket skirt thing attached) in the pantry. All tools not put away in the basement just get dumped in there. We have a coat tree, and shoes & bags go under it. Etc – it took me making there be places, but now that there are and they are convenient, we all use it and when I have to clean up after them I don’t resent it as much.

    My son watches us do this, and sees how I declutter as I clean, so he does guite a bit of adding things to the donation box himself – when we came home from Christmas he didn’t have enough shelf space for his new books, so he and I were weeding books, and he spontaneously decided to get rid of some games and puzzles. He’s 5, so he’s ready to let go of “baby things”.

  • #176690
    Avatar of JuliaJayne
    JuliaJayne
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    Rosa, I had to make some major changes too. Coats and shoes were a big thing, and the bills, paperwork and office supplies needed one spot as well. I considered everyone’s habits when planning those areas, so it didn’t take us long to put things in their place.

  • #176712
    Avatar of SunshineR
    SunshineR
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    I have struggled to learn to praise DBF’s efforts, instead of jumping in to do things my way, in my time. He has really increased his decluttering after seeing how much I have gotten rid of in the last 6 months. Also, he has watched Hoarders occasionally. Together, we helped a family member pack a moving van last summer.

  • #176717
    Avatar of lottielot
    lottielot
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    my dh is a nightmare, the man loves shopping and hates throwing stuff out :( Having said that, we’ve made some progress the last few months, he’s agreed finally to do a big cull of his clothes recently so I made a big fuss over how well he did :) He still leaves his shoes all over the dining room, I’ve tried working round that by putting a big box with a lid where he leaves them, and an open box for ‘current’ shoes but he still leaves them lying round. So I just chuck them in the big box and let him complain. Given the chance the man would leave 10 pairs of shoes on the floor in the dining room! I put some plastic boxes inside the big box so the pairs actually stay together and the shoes don’t get ruined, but then he complains about that! So shoes are an issue for us…He has been better about bringing down newspapers for recycling etc, the more effort I make the more he appreciates it and the more he seems willing to do. He likes the house looking uncluttered, he just doesn’t see his stuff as clutter!
    My kids: an ongoing project really. My 5 year old tends towards tidiness but needs help or an incentive to do so. He’s great at doing big clear-ups but terrible at maintenance. So I need to work on giving him more of a routine for maintenance. My 8 year old is terrible at both, has to be nagged and bribed. He’s good at helping run errands round the house and helping out though, so sometimes I’ll swap him chores, like I’ll tidy up his books a bit in return for him feeding the cats or emptying the dishwasher. I’m bribing him with a desk in return for him keeping his bedroom reasonable for a couple of months. It won’t happen, but again he needs a clear-up routine. I’m working on both of them doing tiny things like hanging their coat up and putting their shoes in the right place and then I’ll move on to other things when we’ve cracked that properly :)

  • #176723
    Avatar of Charity
    Charity
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    DD is a problem – she’s not quite 6 and despite my best efforts is very princessy and wants me to act as her maid. Big strops every day when I ask her to clear off the floor of her bedroom before sleeping. She went to a Montessori nursery for 2 years! DS, nearly 3, is much better for some reason. Yesterday he spontaneously handed me a couple of items, telling me they were baby toys and to get rid of them because he’s a big boy now. I was very proud. DD had another strop, claiming one of the items as her favourite (so not true), but when I challenged her to therefore play with it right now she gave in. I don’t really know what to do other than be firmer with her – MIL spoiling her (oldest grandchild) is a big factor. She has so much stuff and doesn’t really truly value any of it.

    DH is getting there. Still has hoarding instincts acquired from his parents, and guilt over gifts, but baby steps are working.

  • #176724
    Avatar of ninakk
    ninakk
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    Wow, great comments! I’m glad that pkilmain added the “other side of the story”, because the point is precisely not to divide anyone into “us” and “them”. One of my best friends suffers from the knowledge of her being the sloppy one and feels tremendous guilt at times.

    I’m also grateful to hear stories from different phases of this endeavour. Situations might go into standstill whereas they might jump forward in giant heaps once another member suddenly sees the light so to speak. Personally, I refuse to believe that there’s no hope.

    @DanielleandTom: I do the dorky thing at times, too *grin*

    @susanintexas: I hear you on the content part. Peace of mind and acceptance will help us a lot more than anger or resentment. How was dinner (date with DH? I’m nosy…)? Is there more to come from your direction? You seem to have decluttered well and done some great thinking in parallel.

    @writing all the time: Yes, I agree. He has to take care of his own stuff, but when it comes to shared things one quickly becomes a hotel and restaurant service. And angry.

    @JuliaJayne: This was particularly useful for me as I’m the one with gazillion things in comparison to H.

    @Jude2004: Do you mean to say that you do it in your own pace, without the rest participating that much? Impressive to stay so calm if that’s the case!

    @bandicoot: Two years from now *dreamy eyes* I’m a bit envious but on the other hand I don’t want the process to go too fast either. I have a lot to learn still, am trying to find a place for each thing, but also do I need to do better at putting away those that already have been assigned a spot.

    @Rosa: It really makes a difference once we start to accept our habits and work with them the way you describe. A very good point!

    @SunshineR: Oh, how I love to compromise :) It’s difficult at times, especially when I’m anxious to finish a project and nothing happens. I’ve concluded that I need to learn how to use a drill or some things will never change here.

    @lottielot: I’m sending you good vibes from here, because frustrations can really eat us. Sounds like you benefit the most from simply carrying on in your own tempo and then DH will follow in his. The kids on the other hand can still be worked on, luckily. My dad tells me my sister and I used to throw the jackets on the entryway floor until he started doing the same when coming home from work. Apparently it had startled us very much, because dads aren’t supposed to do so silly things. Jackets were hung up neatly after his little protest action.

    @Charity: Do you think it would benefit your family if you or your husband would have a talk with your MIL? Otherwise it sounds like you can look forward to a never-ending flood of stuff until the kids move out :( It also sounds like she wants to be a part of her grandchildrens’ lives, but maybe it could be directed more constructively? You could suggest some activity that she could finance or something similar. Our grandmother sometimes paid for our piano lessons when money was tight and then she was invited to each concert at the musical institute. She loved it.

  • #176725
    Avatar of Charity
    Charity
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    Ninakk, believe me, we’ve tried. She’s a very difficult woman, lots of other issues.

  • #176727
    Avatar of lottielot
    lottielot
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    charity: the only way I’ve found to deal with unwanted present overload from others including MIL is to very swiftly and quietly remove said presents from attention. The ones which are made a fuss over at the time or which look likely to be used or treasured are left but anything which looks crappy, annoying, unlikely to be used etc etc is put in the charity bag. No-one has ever missed any of this stuff! You need to do it when there are lots of other distractions, which is not hard at Christmas or birthdays. Anything in original packaging is put away for re-gifting at friends’ birthday parties etc. I am still completely astonished at how NOTHING has been missed or commented on, and I’ve done this for a couple of years now :) MIL tends to give quantity rather than quality…

  • #176728
    Avatar of ninakk
    ninakk
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    @Charity: Okay, that’s what I sort of gathered based on your previous comments too. Then I suggest what lottielot already said. If there are too many things to store at your place or if you want to not even have it there, maybe you could donate it to some shelter for women, who are bound to bring their kids as well? Or whatever place you deem suitable.

  • #176733
    Avatar of Charity
    Charity
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    Lottie: My MIL has twigged – she removed everything from packaging herself, even before giving it to the kids. She even cuts the tags off the designer clothing, grrr, as then it is harder to eBay. But yes, you’re right, and I do that as much as possible. I just wish she bought cheap things; it would be easier. She is very wealthy, but I didn’t grow up with money at all and am guilty myself to a certain extent of indulging the kids. You know, stuff I always wanted but could never have. I keep a lid on it as far as possible (I do buy too many books for them) but it does hurt to “deprive” them even though they are already spoilt.

  • #176734
    Avatar of Charity
    Charity
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    Actually, the other week MIL was marvelling at how much stuff her grandkids have compared to kids in the past (her own boys didn’t get this). I took her to DD’s bedroom and said “Look, you bought her the doll’s house, the Sylvanian Families house, the enormous Playmobil pirate ship, the Playmobil church set, most of those Barbies, those My Little Ponies, that pile of teddies, the snowglobes, the jewellery boxes…”

    Both kids have their birthdays next month. We shall see!

  • #176736
    Avatar of ninakk
    ninakk
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    Your kids are yours and you have the right to bring them up the way you see fit. One of my best friends belongs to one of the wealthiest families in the country and her upbringing is extremely modest. She never ever talks about money and doesn’t surround herself with extravagance. She now has a child of her own and already you can tell that she walks in her parents’ footsteps. I admire her very much for this. The only time we ever came to discuss it somehow was in terms of student aid; she mentioned in a very simple way that she didn’t receive it, and has been very understanding when I’ve aired my money troubles (have a huge debt due to a second round of studying) a few times. Stuff hasn’t been given some strange value that includes or separates the right from wrong in her case. I’m not saying this is how it is in your case, Charity, but merely wanted to share this example with you. I hope you will find peace with your situation somehow while creating the least possible friction with MIL, who apparently struggles somehow herself.

  • #176737
    Avatar of Jacquie
    Jacquie
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    Charity, I don’t suppose it would be of any use suggesting that MIL to be in charge of setting up a Going to Uni/Deposit for a House/Buying a First Car and Driving Lessons/Wedding type fund for each of the children, so when these mega expensive events happen in the future the money is there for (some of) them. It would seem to be a far more loving use of her money than lots of expensive tat which will be lost and broken in a year or two. Then she could just get them one present for Xmas and birthdays, which they will likely appreciate for more. But by your slightly desperate tone, I suspect you have tried everything.

    For a good few years here the government gave new babies a smallish chunk of money which had to be invested in a child fund of some sort. The idea being that once the account was there, parents and relations were more likely to add to it; without the account they might give money that just gets frittered away. Unfortunately it has been recently stopped due to our horrendous national debt, but the principle might work.

  • #176738
    Avatar of JuliaJayne
    JuliaJayne
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    ninakk,

    I had trouble putting things away too, but FlyLady helped me realize that I was making more work for myself by not putting things away. She suggested to be aware of how much more time it takes to actually put something away in it’s proper place. Sometimes it takes only seconds or it might take a minute. When I started timing myself, I felt somewhat foolish that the mess I would leave in my wake could instead be taken care of immediately just by taking a few more seconds. I can still be somewhat lazy about it, but there are ways to make up for it.

    Some of the things that works for me is to take a few minutes after dinner to pick up, or put things away before going to bed. If you watch tv in the evening, you’de be surprised how much you can get done during commercial breaks. Or set a timer for 10-15 minutes and see who much you can get done in that amount of time. I’ve done some of my best decluttering while watching tv.

  • #176744
    Avatar of lottielot
    lottielot
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    charity: she does what? That is seriously weird…In that case I would consider it a form of control-freakery and make it my business to get as many of her presents to leave the house as physically possible :) And tell her to take a flying jump if she asks where it all is!

  • #176753
    Avatar of Rosa
    Rosa
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    Your kids are your own…and your partner’s. I’m convinced if I could get my partner to stand up to his mother everything would change, but he’s terrified of hurting her feelings. It’s very well to say “stand up to your mother-in-law” but the relationship is actually just as much with your partner as with his mother.

  • #176754
    Avatar of Charity
    Charity
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    Thanks!

    Jacquie, you mean the Child Trust Fund? We do put moneey in there, MIL’s mother gives it to her great-grandchildren instead of gifts (hooray!), but I’m loathe to overinvest in it because the kids have full control as soon as they turn 18 and could do absolutely anything with it!

    Lottie: You’re absolutely right.

  • #176755
    Avatar of Charity
    Charity
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    True, Rosa. It’s hard.

  • #176756
    Avatar of ninakk
    ninakk
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    My heart goes out to you, Charity.

  • #176839
    Avatar of lottielot
    lottielot
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    Rosa, you have a good point there. I think actually I’m lucky in that my dh has a very semi-detached relationship with his mother, she did a lot of things when they were teenagers that meant she lost that bond with him and his siblings (not abuse or anything, just very bad behaviour on her part). As a result, he is firmly on the side of our family when push comes to shove, and he has very clearly told her that. Even so, if there is emotional manipulation going on between MIL and grandchildren/daughters-in-law then it is everyone’s duty to stand up to unacceptable behaviour. This doesn’t have to be done nastily or cause offence, but a bit of honesty would be helpful all round I think. I’m conscious that one day I will be a MIL as I have 2 sons and if I want a relationship with grandchildren then I will also have to tiptoe round potential DILs. It’s a fraught relationship! Charity: at least you pointed out to your MIL all the stuff she had foisted onto your family, it’s a good start!

  • #176908
    Avatar of SunshineR
    SunshineR
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    Charity, I’m sending words of encouragement. I’m glad that your children have relationships with you that are based on closeness, rather than “what did you buy for me?”
    Now I understand what my own mom meant when I was a child. I was close to my grandparents in distance and emotion, because they took time to build that love. A relative on the other side of the family filled my room full of gifts, but today I am not as close to her.

  • #178987
    Avatar of Joless
    Joless
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    I had a discussion with my GF last week about whether we could maybe consider throwing away the table tennis bats. She has had these since before we met (so 10+ years), I have never seen her use them, they are likely perished anyway, and if we really needed them (who has a table tennis emergency anyway) we could buy new ones for not much money. She said no. Her reasoning – they are ‘good’ ones. Gah.

    Mind you, her mother’s place is full of ‘Just In Case’ stuff, and ‘it’s pretty’ stuff so maybe that’s where it’s coming from. I dread to think what will happen when she moves from her 4-bed farmhouse with triple garage and stables/outbuildings. When she got a new kitchen we found seven bottle openers (she lives alone) and even then had to convince her to get rid of at least a couple!

    In one respect though, she is great. She tends to give us money towards things as presents instead of junk, which is awesome!

  • #179019
    Avatar of chacha1
    chacha1
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    In the beginning was the Junk. And it was mine.

    I was the cluttery one when DH and I met, and only the fact that most of my belongings left with my ex gave us a clean start. Then we went through a period of growing prosperity accompanied by increased spending resulting in a flood of Stuff.

    Over the past two years I have been aggressively decluttering, definitely working from stuff that is just “mine” into stuff that is arguably “ours” (if it came into the house since our marriage but I am the one who uses it, I take control). Soon we will be moving on to “his.” He is resistant but a recent experience with his borderline-hoarder parents was helpful (from my point of view).

    I speak freely about the kind of life I want and about the non-utility of hanging onto things that are not used. I don’t direct statements of that nature to DH, as a rule; they typically arise in discussions of real estate! I’ve said several times, and I think he is starting to grasp my meaning, that I don’t want to pay rent – or a mortgage – just for extra space to store Stuff.

    I think (hope) fairly soon DH is going to accept that he is now more interested in computers than he is in mountaineering or scuba, that it’s okay for him to change his interests, and it’s okay to pass all that gear on to someone who might be in the first flush of enthusiasm.

  • #200447
    Avatar of ninakk
    ninakk
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    Family members during decluttering

    My darlings, I think it’s time for us to revive this discussion!

  • #200481
    Avatar of lottielot
    lottielot
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    Yes, I agree. It’s interesting reading what I wrote a year ago about my family. Actually, ds1 has been much better lately, and ds2 still needs work but he will happily donate LOADS of stuff from his room. Dh has spent the last year buying clothes and shoes so we’re probably back to where we were a year ago. I’ve nagged, begged, cajoled, joked, pranked, you name it, he only budges when he feels like it. On the plus side, he’s been keeping his car and his office clean and uncluttered, so he obviously likes things less cluttered, just not enough to part with any of his stuff. Maybe it’s time for another attempt to get him to chuck some stuff out…

  • #200493
    Avatar of lucy1965
    lucy1965
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    Oh, nina my very dear, you aren’t kidding. Last night was a phone call from the MIL From Hell; we didn’t take it, but she left a message saying that she’s sorting through the Christmas ornaments and DH needs to let her know which ones he wants before she packs up the rest to send to BIL. We are rolling our eyes because

    1) We don’t do a tree — cats go “ooooh, shiny!” and reenact the “Santa Claws” episode of Simon’s Cat — and she’s known that for years; and

    2) BIL and family live in a typically closet-sized apartment in Osaka: where they’re going to store Christmas stuff eludes me, and almost certainly eludes her.

    But hey! It’s her money: if she wants to pay to ship all that to Japan . . . .

  • #200504
    Avatar of susique
    susique
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    it is fun to look back at the difference a year (or two) make. dh was nervous when i was getting rid of things we did not use, but by golly it has paid off. he suggested getting rid of the rv that we did not use last year. so pleasantly surprised, one more thing gone. yeah! if he can do it anyone can.

  • #200530
    Avatar of chacha1
    chacha1
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    There has been slight movement from DH but the past-lives gear is still hanging in there. I think we need to visit his parents again. :-) Put the fear of junk into him.

  • #200544
    Avatar of ninakk
    ninakk
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    Let’s vent properly first and try to come up with some ideas on how to deal with the dynamics and differing wants/needs afterwards!?

    At my casa there is a slight improvement but anything that can be postponed to an hour or year later gets pushed into the unknown future. I have a lot more stuff than hubby and I get that he can’t make decisions for me, but unless he does some of my regular chores I’ll be decluttering the basics for two more years. It is frustrating to hear no when I ask for help, because I come from a home where anyone who asks for help gets it and that usually within the day or week depending on the task. What it boils down to in our case is laziness basically and I have a hard time accepting that. The funniest is that DH doesn’t even want the piles around, but leaves them for me to deal with. The other day he said he’d help – first genuine offer ever – but nothing came out of it. I’m trying to tell myself that it was a significant step in the right direction and make the decluttering my own journey, not his. That’s also the reason for me doing most of the deep cleaning by myself, since it is such a hassle to have him do just the weekly chores of his.

  • #200553
    Avatar of luxcat
    luxcat
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    I’m at a personal crossroads right now where I very much need/want to downsize my job and am willing to go on a tight budget to do it. DH is at a point where he wants to go buy a 4 bedroom house (not cheap around here- and it’s only the two of us and we nearly never have guests) and a new car. We need neither. I’m frustrated and I don’t know what to do. I’ve tried talking about my feelings in many different ways and it just isn’t registering.

    So that’s the venting… any ideas?

  • #200554
    Avatar of luxcat
    luxcat
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    @ninakk… I find if I ask my DH for help in general I usually get nothing, but if I ask him to do small, specific, outlined and time-defined tasks he is more than happy to assist. Perhaps something along the line of “Mr Ninakk, would you be willing to take these bags to the goodwill on friday afternoon?” or “Mr Ninakk, can we spend ten minutes before dinner going through this pile of magazines and decide what to recycle?”

  • #200560
    Avatar of chacha1
    chacha1
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    @luxcat, any idea why your DH is suddenly wanting things that would force you to not have what YOU want? (Or is it sudden?) Do you think he is maybe “wanting” the big house and the new car because he’s afraid of you changing your work situation? Does he fear some unmanageable burden will fall on him?

    I was lucky, my DH was supportive when I told him I needed to leave the bad job. I took a 30% pay cut in order to do it, PLUS we had to buy a second car since my chances of finding a new job I could walk to were basically nil (fortunately we were able to pay cash for the car, courtesy of my parents).

    The results were very good, though it took 3 years. I am now three jobs away from the bad job, making nearly as much as I made there, with a short commute, MUCH happier, and in the meantime we have managed to pay off a significant amount of debt, stay healthy, and still have a good quality of life due to renegotiated divisions of financial responsibility.

    It’s awfully common in the US for one partner to financially “carry” the other. For all I know that’s a worldwide phenomenon. And changing the financial balance of power is a very emotionally fraught undertaking. I wish you all success and good luck.

  • #200561
    Avatar of luxcat
    luxcat
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    Family members during decluttering

    chacha- no… it’s not sudden. we’ve been talking about buying a house for two years and I’m on board (I hate apartment living). But he just always seems to want more and I seem to want less… we are just at different points. The car thing is a prestige issue which I have no patience with. He works with/for people who have a great deal of money and he comes from the same sort of modest (to put it nicely- actually darn poor at times) immigrant background I do and we both struggled hard to get an education and good jobs. He’s supportive of me leaving the bad job, very much so in fact- just he is not very realistic about the actual costs of a house and all that. It’s frustrating. We have worked hard and saved a good deal and I would like to take advantage of it now, not go into more debt. I suppose I’ll just have to stick to my guns and hope it all works out!

  • #200564
    Avatar of chacha1
    chacha1
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    Family members during decluttering

    well we certainly all do hope it does work out. :-) All I can say is … I’m a lifelong renter (and happy to be so), and have seen that home ownership has NOT been a winner for any of our nearest and dearest friends.

    One couple had to buy an hour out of town. One couple is underwater. One couple is in a badly-built condo that is a perpetual maintenance nightmare. One couple sold their house when their businesses went south, now live alternately out of an RV and a small apartment in a rental property they own. My parents are spending a lot more than they should (in retirement) to improve and maintain an overlarge house, DH’s parents are in a reverse mortgage in order to stay in their house, my sisters have done nothing for two years but work on their all-they-could-afford fixer-upper.

    Given that this is a longterm discussion you have probably covered all the variables and contingencies, but if you consider renting a house (versus apartment) for a while to get used to it, that might be a way to make the transition a little more realistic.

  • #200565
    Avatar of Conny
    Conny
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    A typical situation: I ask DH to take the paper to recycling. He agrees, and goes to the three places in our apartment where we have the boxes to gather paper. He notices old maps and guide books in one of them and questions why i am throwing them out. Says maps are always valid, no matter how old they are, so are guide books.
    I point out that the ones i am chucking are over 20 or even 30!!! years old, and i saved the newer ones, and if we ever decide to return to that particular town or region, we will use a google map or borrow a guide-book from the library.

    OTOH…

    I am sure he thinks that some of the stuff i recover is silly. He might be right.

    An example: i save matchboxes to turn them into little drawers for my friends’ grandkids. So when i reprimanded him years back for throwing out a match box, he said: “you need to make and post a list of all the things you need for your crafts.”

    I no longer do as many as i used to, down to 4 from 12, but can imagine how many arguments ensue if any other uncluttering couples are like us.

  • #200572
    Avatar of rutheverhart
    rutheverhart
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    Family members during decluttering

    @luxcat — maybe you and your DH could read a book like “Your Money or Your Life” together. It would be a good method of talking about your vision for your future — and these money decisions are SO significant. Houses and cars are the big time — these decisions ripple for years.

    And here’s a question that may seem really weird. But why “lux”cat? Is that for luxury? I always assumed it was. Is your DHs desire for luxury? Is that what lies beneath the desire for a bigger than necessary house and a luxury car? Maybe I’ve overstepped by asking the question — just ignore it if it seems invasive — but it might lead to an interesting spousal discussion!

  • #200603
    Avatar of lottielot
    lottielot
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    Family members during decluttering

    Luxcat: it sounds like you both have rather different aspirations for the future and are going to need to sit down and have a proper discussion or two about it. My dh also works with people who have lots of money, so he likes to have a flash car and probably feels like he would like a bigger, fancier house. But…he also has a stressful, hard job so his ambition is to retire as early as possible so he sees that to do that it’s far more sensible to pay off our small mortgage and be content with what we have. I’m happy if he’s happy, and our house is good enough for our family, but we can still go on nice holidays and not scrimp and save as we would with a bigger house. My dh really struggled with being the sole breadwinner when I had kids, and every so often this anxiety re-surfaces. We’ve always had combined finances but it does change the power dynamics when one person has a drop in income. Definitely something to talk about. Could you come up with some hard figures to show him what your incoming money and outgoing expenditure would be if you downsized your job? Then work out what the bigger house and car would cost and how much income would be required to service that debt? Your dh sounds likes he’s in denial or being overly optimistic…
    Ninakk: to get help from your dh you need some new tactics. Have you tried ‘if I do this for you can you do that for me?’. But wait till he does the stuff for you first, obviously! I’m responsible for almost all domestic stuff nowadays, but when we both worked the one thing we argued most about was housework.

  • #200616
    Avatar of Rosa
    Rosa
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    There’s a local married-accountant team where the wife teaches personal finance and couples finance classes. She is on the public radio call-in show sometimes too, and I really like here – I’ve used her Your Money Life workbook, and she has a book for couples too (we haven’t used that one, sitting down annually to make our budget together is about as much money wrangling as I can stand with my partner.):

    http://www.ruthhayden.com/books/index.html

  • #200636
    Avatar of luxcat
    luxcat
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    @Ruth I have read that book and loved it so much that I’ve bought copies for friends. We already live much of that sort of lifestyle (and we are debt free other than our current mortgage) and it has gotten us to the place we are today. My husband does not read at all so I don’t think he will ever read it, but he has enjoyed hearing me read bits of it to him. You are correct that decisions about big ticket purchases ripple for years! That’s part of my fear actually… The “Lux” is latin for “light” which is related to my specialty, and the “cat” is my actual name. Not an invasive question at all I use it a lot in other forums and get asked all the time!

    @lottielot. We certainly do… I think my frustration is that we sit down and talk about it time after time, and he seems to understand my position but then comes out with the silliest things just hours later :) DH also wishes for early retirement, but he also has some other long term (and expensive) goals I’m not sure how we are really going to sort out if I do not keep working at my very lucrative (and stressful to the point of making me sick) job. We have a very good idea of what the house is going to cost, and I agree- I think there is either denial, over optimism, or a combo of both going on here :) Either that or i’m being way too conservative, which is also a strong possibility.

  • #200647
    Avatar of lucy1965
    lucy1965
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    Family members during decluttering

    @conny The neighborhood we’re planning to move to was a derelict industrial zone not so very long ago; a five-year-old guidebook would have had you steering well clear of it!

    @luxcat Everyone else has given you such good advice that I’m reluctant to add to it lest you feel piled on, so I’ll just say this: having rented and owned for about equal amounts of time, and having dealt with break-ins, reroofing, boilers and water heaters breaking down in spectacular ways, and hoping to sell in a very depressed market, I’m very much looking forward to a “lock and leave” flat in a secure building with a good maintenance staff.

  • #200695

    Family members during decluttering

    I’m very lucky, in that both my flatmates encourage my uncluttering. One of them will find anything left out on any surface, and pick it up in her teeth and throw it to the floor. She checks my in-out trays for interesting things and regularly shreds paper for me (whether I want her to or not). She also climbs into boxes, and chews on the edges – so nothing can be left out for long. The other sheds hair at a massive rate so nothing can be left out without gaining a huge fur coat.

    Oh and I should mention that both my flatmates are cats :D

  • #200700
    Avatar of luxcat
    luxcat
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    Family members during decluttering

    @lucy1965 I’m very appreciative of the outpouring of advice, and thanks for adding your bit too. It’s funny how one needs different things at different times of life. We currently own a “lock and leave flat” in a secure building, but the headache of having to deal with irresponsible neighbors (leaks from unit above, fear of fire is doubled x20 units, constant noise, etc), poor construction (when it rains we have to dig a channel outside in the planter to let it run off down the hill) and nosy nellies (who get into every aspect of ones business and are always making random new rules for the HOA) we are ready to get into a house where if it leaks we can fix it without having to involve another neighbor, if we have a drainage issue we can have it fixed, and if the color of our curtains doesn’t float our boat, we can change it without having to apply to a board.

    the real question isn’t whether or not to purchase a home- I’m on board with that, and we’ll sell this place to off-set some of it- but what size home to buy. I’m fine with “small but well laid out, small yard for dog” and he wants “huge house for guests we never have, vast yard for unknown reason” (buying for imaginary lifestyle) sigh. anyhow, I have to sign the papers too, so he can’t get away with much in the end!

  • #200701
    Avatar of pkilmain
    pkilmain
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    Family members during decluttering

    LOL, luxcat. We’re currently renting a 2 bedroom place in Hawaii (heaven!) and if DH had access to the tool shed/open work area on the property, this would suit us to a T! About 750 sf, kitchen/dining/living open to one another, a good sized bedroom and a small one (perfect for crafts/office) and a huge bathroom, plus front and back patios and a nice sized yard. And of course, since we only have what we brought from home, with their kitchen stuff/linens, etc. It’s sooo easy to keep clean and uncluttered. :) http://killino.com/v-web/gallery/gardenapartment/gabath1

  • #200731
    Avatar of behejo
    behejo
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    Family members during decluttering

    My DH is sometimes hard to understand when it comes to decluttering: on the one hand he is eager to downsize our stuff as he sees where we might end up when seeing his parents and my fathers house that both are stuffed; on the other hand he sometimes gets nervous to throw things away or donate them. The worst: I don’t see a pattern. If I’d knew he gets anxious on reducing A, but is good with B, I could lead the process, but he seems to function not that way.
    I started mainly decluttering my own stuff and when he saw the benefits, he got interested himself and nowadays sometimes even takes the initiative (not that often, but well…).
    To get to help me with household was kind of difficult as he never learnt it from home. His mother is a hoarder and not good in routines, his father is chaotic and has no sense for/of (?) beauty. So DH is really missing the respective education and had no role model. It helps – as some of you mentioned – to give him precise instructions. It’s funny as I learnt it’s better to give people goals and leave it to them how they want to achieve them (management by objectives) – this is fantastic on the job, but at home won’t work. Sometimes it makes me feel bad as I don’t want to boss around my partner,but it’s the only way it works: take out the rubbish, pile the paper for recycling, take the bag with empty bottles to recycling…..It feels weird talking like that to a mature person. But it seems to be the only way. No clear instructions -> nothings going to happen.

  • #200796
    Avatar of chacha1
    chacha1
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    Family members during decluttering

    I would be the first to admit that I needed A LOT of education in order to be a good housekeeper. When we got engaged, I set myself the task of reading “Home Comforts” by Cheryl Mendelson. That one book probably did more to get me on the road to keeping a clean, tidy, peaceful, comfortable home than anything else I’ve read. It’s available for Kindle or in paperback and I highly recommend it.

  • #200848
    Avatar of 2muchstuff
    2muchstuff
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    Family members during decluttering

    Hi. I just joined and am in the process of decluttering our house with my husband. One thing we did was to just communicate how we want to go about doing this, since we don’t know if each would want to keep the stuff of the other. So we created 3 boxes: recycle, scan & throw away, and must-keep. We first went through any stacks of papers that we had and each of us went through and put whatever we could find into one of those 3 boxes. That got at least paperwork out of stacks everywhere and put somewhere that we both knew what needed to be done with it. We ended up throwing out a lot into recycling…just stuff we’ve been holding onto that years later is clearly irrelevant. So that was a big step toward a first pass reduction.

    But my husband also travels a lot. So we have an office where we have a lot of desks so we designated desk space and each of us throws what we need to deal with for our own stuff on a desk. We decided one weekend that nothing should be on the floor (the whole room was covered in paperwork everywhere across the floor) so we spent a couple days getting everything in the 3 boxes or thrown out. We were both very pleased when the recycle box became the one that we had to keep emptying and realized just how much stuff that we were keeping this whole time that we really didn’t need. The office space now looks a lot better.

    We talked together about why this happened. Part of it is that we have twin toddlers and 2 dogs…over the course of our marriage, the office was the one room that neither babies/dogs could go into so it because the dump or keepaway zone, hence the buildup. It never got addressed because life kept moving forward but – more importantly – we never talked about when we wanted to do a purging or how we wanted to go about any regular maintenance schedule or process. So we’ve decided after we clean things up that we need to establish a way to keep it that way by doing a weekly or biweekly purge together of stuff that isn’t needed.

  • #200864
    Avatar of behejo
    behejo
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    @chacha1: I will try and get my hands on that particular book;
    my mother was a good house keeper (I learnt a lot from her by just watching her), BUT she tended to do everything herself and didn’t demand chores of me on a regular basis. That’s why I as well miss some sense for routines. I tend to do housekeeping in waves, but more like my DH I know the ‘how’.
    He often seems clueless about how to do the work: e.g. something didn’t get clean in the dishwasher – he just puts it back in there hoping for a miracle to happen in the next round; he wants to believe that machines do better jobs than manual work. Another thing that drives me crazy is, that he doesn’t check the dishes before putting them into the cupboards, so I often find spoons with food remains on them or dirty pans in the cupboards.

    A question to the community concerning a certain behaviour of DH: he is really willing to help in the house and I appreciate that he sometimes does things without being asked, but he NEVER COMPLETES tasks – some examples of the last 2 days:
    1. dishwasher half emptied
    2. paper roped up for recycling, but still lying BESIDE the bin we collect it in
    3. rubbish being taken out of the kitchen, but placed on the terrasse and not in the rubbish container in front of the house, no new rubbish bag put into the kitchen bin
    4. dirty clothes from the valet stand brought to laundry bin, dirty socks and underwear still lying on the floor AROUND the valet
    5. shopping bag emptied, but 2 or 3 things left
    6. after breakfast cleared table, but butter not in fridge, cups left on table, table not cleaned

    WHY?
    If I ask him, he gets angry saying, I should be glad about him helping and that other guys leave everything to the wife!
    Can you explain? Have you experienced that kind of behaviour? What do you suggest?

  • #200866

    Family members during decluttering

    behejo: my DH has the same incompleteness gene, and I don’t get it either. I have some theories:
    (1) He stops when he reaches a roadblock — perhaps in the emptying the shopping or the dishwasher example, he doesn’t know where the few remaining things belong. Instead of asking, he stops.
    (2) He’s repeating a childhood pattern: perhaps his mother left the butter on the table.
    (3) He doesn’t see it: like the crumbs on the table or the socks on the floor
    (4) He’s afraid of being criticized for doing it wrong: my DH’s father was critical and sarcastic and I think he developed a technique of avoiding doing things for fear of doing it wrong and getting yelled at or belittled. I’m not like that at all — but I think he expects me to be. My DH will gladly do the dishes after dinner but will not put ANYTHING away — not even hang up a potholder. I think it’s obvious where most things go — these two white plates go on top of the stack with the other white plates in the exact same place in the cupboard where they have been for almost 20 years — but he won’t put them there.
    (5) He takes greater joy in doing than having done: This applies mostly to home repair and improvement projects, but DH rarely finishes them. I think he likes to tell people he is tiling the sunroom rather having it done. And the incompleteness doesn’t bother him as it does me.
    (6) He’s leaving a trace: if a job is completed, it leave no trace — it’s as if it has never happened; it’s “normal.” By leaving a bit undone, it’s easier to see that he has done SOMETHING.

  • #200874
    Avatar of xarcady
    xarcady
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    Family members during decluttering

    @behejo, I agree with susanintexas. I’d also add something that I’ve noticed a lot in my family. When someone says, “Clear the table, please,” the person asked to clear the table will do just that–they will take the plates, flatware and glasses off the table and put them on the counter. Job is done, the table is cleared.

    However, what the person asking *meant* was: Take plates, glasses and flatware off the table and put them into the dishwasher. Put the butter and ketchup in the fridge. Wipe down the table. Wipe down the counters. Handwash anything that can’t go in the dishwasher. “Clear the table” is, for this person, shorthand for “Clean up the kitchen after dinner.”

    So you can imagine the surprise and resultant anger when that person goes back into the kitchen and sees all the plates sitting on the counter, the table still dirty and the butter and ketchup left out. And the corresponding surprise and resentment of the person who cleared the table when their “mistakes” are pointed out to them.

    So you get a parent telling a child to empty the kitchen trash can. The child takes the full bag of trash out of the can and ties it up. To the child, the job is done–he’s taken the trash out of the can. But to the parent, the job isn’t even halfway done–the trash bag needs to be carried outside and put in the trash barrel out there and a new trash bag needs to be put in the kitchen trash can.

    One thing I’ve learned is to explain the task completely. Or change my wording entirely. Instead of “Clear the table,” use, “Clean up the kitchen after dinner.” Instead of “Pick up your room,” use, “Put all your dirty clothes in the hamper and bring it to the laundry room. Make your bed. Pick up everything on the floor and put it where it belongs–clothes in the closet, books in the bookcase, toys on the shelves.”

    When I was about 8, my mom hauled my older brothers and me into the bathroom and taught us step by step how to clean a bathroom. She taught us how to change sheets on a bed. How to do the dishes and other after-dinner clean-up. How to do laundry. We hated it then, but boy, do I appreciate it now.

    As do my sisters-in-law.

  • #200877
    Avatar of Rosa
    Rosa
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    Family members during decluttering

    The incompleteness has to do with a lack of prioritization, though I have to admit I have it and tend to blame ADHD.

    But it’s also: ALL the housework is equally important. And family stuff is even more important. Right? So if you’re halfway through the dishwasher and a kid spills something in the living room, you go out there and make sure they’re wiping it up. And then (if you’re me) you get distracted. Or, you supervise the kid through cleanup and then they want you for something else (because they always do.)

    That’s why a list is so important for me. So, yeah, I interrupt emptying the dishwasher if there’s a crash from the next room, but then I look at my list and remember it’s not done.

    I do buy the “this isn’t part of the same job” thing for my partner, though – he will finish home projects but then never tidy up after. So even if the wall is mudded and sanded, and all the dust is vacuumed up, the tools & vacuum sit in the kitchen til I pick them up because “picking up the kitchen” is a whole other job. Unless I make a fuss about it.

  • #200896
    Avatar of behejo
    behejo
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    @susan, xarcady and Rosa, thanks for your replies
    susan, you have some good points there, especially the ‘leaving traces’ theory sounds applicable to my DH, he needs a lot acknowledgement and praise. Sometimes it’s weird: I give him exaggerated positive feedback on something he did (with a twinkle in my eye) and he gets happy as a hippo, smiling like crazy. If someone would give me same praise for a normal chore, I’d be embarrassed. Therefore it might be better in his world to not finish something as the half part done will be recognized for sure. And secondly (referring to (2)) as i mentioned earlier, he had no good role model, if any.

    Could this behaviour be a male thing? I remember my mother saying, if she wanted my father something to do in the house (never housekeeping, but building or renovating tasks), she’d prepare the site and after THE task was done tidy and clean after him, put away things…..My father was very handy and talented and as a trained handcraft specialist did the jobs properly . All in all my father and DH are very different characters expect when it comes to this particular behaviour.

    Distraction often leads to things only being halfway done also on my side. But like Rosa, incompleteness is not the rule or intention, it just happens and after the more important thing is done, I’d get back to where I was and finish it. So this ‘excuse’ is not valid for my DH.

    When dealing with children I know that your communication has to be detailed and precise as the little ones just don’t know everything that should be included in ‘clear the table’. But my DH will turn 40 this year and before we moved together had his own appartement for about 10 years. So I refused up till now to talk to him as he was retarded. Only with tasks that occur seldom like recycling collection, I’d be very precise in my instructions. But every evening telling him instead of ‘get the baby ready for the night’ telling him ‘brush his teeth, wash his face and hands, change the diapers, put on the pyjama, get him a clean comforter and throw the old clothes to the laundry and the diaper in the bin…..’ this gives me the chills.

    Anyway, thanks for your suggestions. I came to think of a method that might work with him. I could sit down with him and work out which sub tasks belong to certain chores and define them. On top we could make the agreement, that for what reason ever, one of us does not finish the complete chore, needs to inform the other so that this one isn’t negatively surprised and/or can decide to do the outstanding work. If he’d inform me that he only managed to empty the dishwasher halfway, I wouldn’t go crazy when I find out just when I try to fill it with dirty dishes.

  • #200903
    Avatar of rutheverhart
    rutheverhart
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    Interesting discussion. I have always hated repeating myself. I assume other people feel the same way. Even when our kids were little, at bedtime I would say: “Teeth. Face. Hair.” They knew what it meant and they took care of it. Sometimes I’d say: “Brush, Wash, Brush.” They knew what I meant! So the idea of having to say to a husband something along these lines: “Please brush your teeth, wash and moisturize your face, and brush your hair to get ready for bed” seems ridiculous.

    This is why newlyweds should be very careful about how they handle housework. Whatever gets laid down in that first year will haunt them for years to come. I counsel couples, and I do harp on this. I want them to be intentional about division of labor while they’re still starry-eyed before the wedding.

  • #200904
    Avatar of Conny
    Conny
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    Family members during decluttering

    The dishwasher problem was “solved” here this way:
    As long as there is a dishcloth (clean) on the top rack, it has not been emptied, IOW there are clean dishes in the dishwasher.

    But we both still have the same problem with incomplete jobs all over our flat. We get distracted by other more important tasks, and “forget” (AKA don’t feel like) to finish.

  • #200919
    Avatar of ninakk
    ninakk
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    Family members during decluttering

    @luxcat: oh i have tried that one so many times but usually the answer has been “no, i don’t feel like it, i’ll do it tomorrow” so do i do it myself (and show him that this is the way to wiggle himself out of chores) or do i wait until he has an epiphany of some kind (which makes me more than miserable in the process)?

    @lottielot: have tried that one also. i think i have been through most methods created by man.

    @xarcady: i think you are so right. what we assume is normal can be alientalk to someone else and i am still trying to remember this when discussing household maintenance with hubby. in the lab i was taught to read and learn along when there was a demonstration of a biochem method as well as to take notes to complement the instructions at hand. second time when trying it out myself i was allowed to ask questions freely as long as they were specific and third time only a few questions would be tolerated before raised eyebrows would appear. later while working as a research assistant i had to teach a med student a method she would be using and applied the same structure of teaching/learning on her. med students are good at the human part but if you ask me and many others they should stay far away from a lab unless they do know what end of a pipette should be immersed in a liquid (some of them never paid attention during their two-week course of lab work…). so this poor super booksmart girl made “notes” and claimed to have grasped the idea and most details too, but when she attempted to fly solo it was a disaster; a thousand questions of even the simplest kind *deep sigh* i replied and basically ordered her to take more notes so she did. next trial was as awful, same questions and me referring to her own notes, her reading out loud and going “oh wow yeah, it said there already”. yeah duh. at some point later that summer i was ready to commit suicide in front of her. my hubby isn’t like her though; he’s scared of the unknown and of being yelled at but once he gets going or has been instructed and then find the flow, he does a good job. not “perfect” like mine but more than good enough which becomes perfect since i don’t have to do it. it is the pushing him into motion and having him stay there with a smile instead of curses that is my personal challenge. there has to be some motivator communication-wise that i haven’t found yet, some positive bribery.

  • #200936
    Avatar of behejo
    behejo
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    Family members during decluttering

    @ruth, you are right, a lot of the dysfunctional behaviour dates back to the time when we moved in together. Though both of us worked 100% by that time, I’d do more housekeeping. As I said, DH often was clueless and/or clumsy – so I did it with a smile as I could please him – back then! Sometimes he’d also say ‘oh all these household things are so much more important to you and I don’t want to upset you when doing it wrong’ – he got me and I was doing it, as he seemed to be thoughtful and caring. Honestly said, I have been manipulated. Yeah, and that’s when we set most of the ground rules…..today with a child and me working parttime the conditions have changed, but not our general behaviour. And to be open: DH is much lazier than me; if he isn’t monitored or chased he’d play computer games and drink beer the whole day. If I am alone at home I also relax, but in between I do some chores.

    And another thing that is important to me: even if he is willing to do things – correctly and completely – if I ask him, I am always in the position of the one WANTING something, so I am the bad guy. It would be so much nicer for me, to not having to ask or beg.
    Sometimes on weekends he says ‘I take care of the baby, so that you have free time and space to do your things’. Sounds nice, but MY THINGS are: doing the laundry for the family, cleaning the bathroom, bake bread, pay the bills, prepare the tax declaration.
    After the discussion here in the forum I see it now more clearly that I am being manipulated – maybe not on intention, but still. Tomorrow I’ll tell him ‘if you take care of OUR baby for the next 2 hours, I will be doing OUR laundry and do some cleaning of OUR family rooms. Maybe that’s a – subtle – start.

    P.S. My DH is not the devil, he just plays the game better than I am :-)

  • #200945
    Avatar of xarcady
    xarcady
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    Family members during decluttering

    @behejo, I didn’t mean that you would spell out every single step for an adult every single time. Sorry about that.

    What I meant was that in defining a chore, at the start, you need to spell out every step. “Wash the dishes” means wash the dirty dishes to many people. “After-dinner clean-up” means washing dishes, wiping counters, sweeping the floor, cleaning the cook-top, putting away leftovers, etc. But I know a lot of people who will say, “I’m going to wash the dishes,” who in reality are doing “after-dinner clean-up.” But they get annoyed when they tell someone else to “wash the dishes” and that’s all that happens. Because, they argue, everyone knows that “wash the dishes” means clean the kitchen up after dinner. Well, no, it doesn’t, not unless you’ve been told that it does.

    The point is that you clearly define the task and you make sure that both of you, or all of you if kids are involved, know exactly what the task entails. As a kid, my siblings and I took turns setting the table for dinner, clearing the table, washing the dishes and sweeping the floor/taking out the trash. My mom had lists of what each chore entailed posted in the kitchen. Otherwise, there’s be arguments–“You haven’t finished setting the table.” “Yes, I have!” “No, there’s no butter for the rolls or dressing for the salad and where’s the milk pitcher?” With an adult, you might not have to write each step down, but you do need to make sure that you are both on the same page as to what all the steps in the task are.

    So you would only go over the steps in getting the baby ready for the night once, or maybe twice. Same thing with prepping the diaper bag for a day trip.

  • #200950
    Avatar of luxcat
    luxcat
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    Family members during decluttering

    @2muchstuff it sounds like you two are making excellent progress, congrats!

  • #201160
    Avatar of behejo
    behejo
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    Family members during decluttering

    @xarcady: no problem. sometimes I think – as ridiculous as it my sound – maybe I have to talk to him like to a child once or twice as no other method worked…..I am waiting for the next occasion and will keep you posted.

  • #205891
    Avatar of lottielot
    lottielot
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    Family members during decluttering

    Bumping this thread :) I’m thoroughly fed up: all this effort I put into trying desperately to keep my house reasonably clean and reasonably organised (which feels like sweeping back the tide some days), and, well, all I get is more crap dumped everywhere. Psychological crap too, not just physical crap. Like somehow being the perfect housewife would even be physically possible with a small house and a husband who buys endless stuff but refuses to get rid of anything ever.
    Rant with me and we can commiserate together :) I feel like I have gained a huge amount of control over my own clutter since I’ve been here, but still getting nowhere on dh’s clutter…

  • #205903
    Avatar of Conny
    Conny
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    i wrote this on another thread:
    @ grey and anita: similar problem here. DH Continualy postponing “a big clean up” first it was: “during Xmas holidays”, then: “during semester break”, now it is: “easter holidays”. In the meantime he gets frustrated that he cannot find anything on the mound of papers on his desk, and i that he takes over the dining room table to work on instead.

    To be fair he was not complaining about my “stuff” blocking part of the hallway for a few years, nor did he complain about the extra expense we had when we had to get more bookshelves for me.

    It is rather, having to hear: “i can’t find anything on this desk anymore” and “i have no room to put things away” when he has binders and boxes of stuff that is 15+ years old that he won’t get rid of because he can’t face the time needed to do that, and those boxes are taking valuable shelf space, but i am not supposed to do anything about that, because then he will “never find that again” (even though those boxes and binders haven’t been touched in 5 years!- i once put a few slips of paper on them with a date with a voucher for something he likes to do. (wink-wink) Those are still unclaimed, and they are quite yellowed.)

    It was a minor trauma when he had to move from a 35 sq m office to one half that size at work last summer. We spent 2 full weekends -instead of enjoying the nice summer days- going through so much stuff, sent 12 banana crate size boxes full of paper to recyling.

    He is better at giving away clothes that no longer fit him than i am. Once a year he sorts through his closet, without me saying anything puts clothes in a bag, and asks me to put them in the charity box. So i could learn from him also.

  • #206040
    Avatar of Jackpot
    Jackpot
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    A few weeks ago I had a rather tart discussion with my husband about preparing to move. I asked him to find things that could be thrown away or donated, and think about where we should get packing materials etc., and his reply was “No problem, I can have my clothes, books and gear packed up in an afternoon.”

    Uh-huh.

    So I got a little mad. “Do you not sit on this furniture, eat off these plates, use these towels?” and the discussion got testy for a while before he realized something that I knew internally but couldn’t have put into words before that discussion: the idea that unless something is exclusively his, like clothing, it is somehow mine to deal with and he doesn’t need to concern himself with it. But he had an aha! moment and I think he understands now.

    He, too, does that half-finished thing that Susanintexas mentioned. If it comes out of a grocery bag and he doesn’t know where it goes it will sit on the counter with the assumption that I will put it away when I get home, even if it obviously needs to be refrigerated, with the excuse that “I didn’t know where in the fridge you wanted it.” Well, if I can’t find it I’ll move things around and look for it, or ask him. Anywhere in the fridge beats being left out on the counter to spoil!

    Maybe this is related to the idea mentioned upthread of leaving some things undone “so you can see what I DID do.” And maybe I have that problem myself: recently I had to change the heating element in our dryer and when I was finished I left my drill to sit in the hallway for three days. No excuse, I just walked past it a million times and didn’t put it away until the time I walked by and did. Changing the element required a lot of sweat and grumbling to move the dryer out from the wall, plus a special trip to Home Depot to buy a $20 tool to remove the stripped screws in the cover panel so I could get to the heating element. Meanwhile, husband sat on the couch and read a book. Admittedly, the dryer is in a tight space and there was nothing he could help me with, so I didn’t say anything, but it seemed kind of inconsiderate. (Am I overly sensitive?) When I was done I made sure the dryer worked again and pushed it back into its spot. But I left the drill out…maybe I did want some acknowledgement? The more I read this forum, the more I start looking at clutter and neatness as a psychological thing instead of/in addition to a physical thing. Boy, I’ve got a lot to learn.

  • #206041
    Avatar of irishbell
    irishbell
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    Family members during decluttering

    And sometimes people are just a little lazy and would glady let someone else put the “stuff” away!
    I am guilty of this (usually outdoors stuff), as is dh (usually indoor stuff) .

  • #206045
    Avatar of lottielot
    lottielot
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    Family members during decluttering

    Jackpot: I have to confess that I tend to leave the bulk of my housework till dh is there to witness it :) If he’s at work all day and comes home to a clean and tidy house, it’s obviously required no effort. At least if he sees me hang out 4 loads of washing or ironing his shirts then he can see me working :)
    He just let me donate 2 pairs of his shoes. Progress of a kind…

  • #206492
    Avatar of lottielot
    lottielot
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    Family members during decluttering

    Bumping for Paisley :)
    The cat wee’d on dh’s tennis trainers. Again. He washed them last time and got rid of the smell, I keep telling him that stuff left on the floor is a cat magnet but he.just.does.not.get.it! I really must buy the shoe storage unit I was promised for Christmas…

  • #206500
    Avatar of ninakk
    ninakk
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    Family members during decluttering

    (scratch. have a crappy day.)

  • #206518
    Avatar of Lyerin
    Lyerin
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    Family members during decluttering

    It’s funny, with me doing a bunch of decluttering, my DH seems to be getting motivated too. He helped me with the coat closet project last weekend and plans to help me with the home office project this weekend (which was really his idea). It is nice to be on the same page.

    I sometimes get frustrated with his desire to hold on to stuff, but I also recognize that it’s hard for him to get rid of certain kinds of items. He won’t give up books, ever, unless I can show him that we already own the same book. However, he is more than willing to listen when we talk about getting rid of other stuff to make room for the stuff he wants to keep.

    Yesterday when he came home he said “it looks like you cleaned the kitchen”. Well, I did clean the top of the refrigerator and the shelf over the stove, but you can’t really “see” that cleaning. I did tidy the kitchen between batches of cookies, but no major cleaning. I told him I didn’t do any more than between batches, and we both had a sort of “lightbulb” moment where we realized that when the room is fairly decluttered, it only takes a small amount of tidying to make it look clean and company ready.

  • #206530
    Avatar of paisley
    paisley
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    Family members during decluttering

    Thanks to lottielot for bumping this thread. Erin just wrote about this as well. In looking back through the posts, I see some things that are very helpful. I’m guessing that I should have more of my own stuff complete before “helping” others with theirs. DH really is overworked already, but I liked the idea of suggesting a small stack of things to look at instead of “let’s do something about the den.” I think there will have to be new shelves in that room, as we have so many books without homes. How many linear feet/meters of bookshelves do people have? We already have 80 feet and it is not even close to holding all our books!

  • #206532
    Avatar of pkilmain
    pkilmain
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    Family members during decluttering

    I’ll say it first. You need to assess (i.e. weed out) your books before you decide how much space you need to store them. :). But, yes, suggesting small discrete projects will get your DH on board more willingly.

  • #206534
    Avatar of bandicoot
    bandicoot
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    Family members during decluttering

    i have pared the books down to fit on an expedit 5×5.
    it isn’t full….i estimate about 7.4 metres or 24 feet.
    i always found it difficult to let books go….then one day last year i released a whole swag of them.
    and i am not done yet.
    i’ve kept some childhood books, some sentimental favourites, some out of prints…..but the rest have gone.
    a few still straggle in to the house, but it’s all mostly digital now.

  • #206544
    Avatar of lottielot
    lottielot
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    Family members during decluttering

    Paisley: there are plenty of threads about books :) I developed a ruthless attitude towards my books but dh, alas has not. He does at least buy some kindle books now, but refuses to ever get rid of books (and never re-reads). I have resorted to stealthily donating trashy books I know nobody will ever miss…Otherwise we would be overwhelmed.

  • #206547
    Avatar of ninakk
    ninakk
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    Family members during decluttering

    More of the book tangent:
    My bookshelf contains a bit fewer books than the 80 feet (some shelves are in double rows, sigh), but if those in storage currently (own basement unit and family’s smallish other unit; kids’ and young girl’s books) are counted as well, the number grows rapidly. I’m not going to allow a shelf expansion to take place or the introduction of another shelf entirely, but am treating the current volume as absolute borders or the circus never ends.

  • #206553
    Avatar of Ella
    Ella
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    Family members during decluttering

  • #206555
    Avatar of pkilmain
    pkilmain
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    Family members during decluttering

    I didn’t mean you need to cut back to a minimal level, just to be sure you’re only using storage for the books you love, not the read-it-once-and-never-again things that rightly deserve to be let free in the world.

    I didn’t measure but i estimate we have about 46 linear feet of shelving. This is 2 low bookcases on the main floor. Each has 2 shelves, and they pretty much hold photo albums, cookbooks, travel books, board games and one full shelf holds 2 layers of CDs. Downstairs in my sewing/craft room are 2 tall bookcases and one low one (same as the upstairs ones, and the tall ones also match). One of the tall ones has a cupboard on the bottom where we currently store the many slides we still have, along with the projector. Sorting and scanning these is a someday project. I didn’t count this area for book shelving. So 3 shelves are in that tall bookcase, 6 in the other, and 2 in the low one. (These bookcases take up one short wall of this room. The low one is under a window, and topped with plants. The tall ones flank it.). The low bookcase holds mostly my quilting and other craft books. My “regular” books are on the 3 shelves over the cupboard. The other tall bookcase holds DH’s books on 5 shelves, and all of our ovrersized books are on the bottom shelf.

  • #206560
    Avatar of Ella
    Ella
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    Family members during decluttering

    Erin has posted an article today on one aspect of this thread’s subject:
    family members at odds about dealing with paper clutter.

    http://unclutterer.com/2012/02/24/ask-unclutterer-how-do-i-convince-my-spouse-to-get-rid-of-unnecessary-papers/#comments

  • #206590
    Avatar of lottielot
    lottielot
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    Family members during decluttering

    Dh showed me an advert for a house today. I didn’t think he wanted to move but it is a very nice house…Maybe this is how I could persuade him to let me throw stuff out on his behalf :)

  • #206736
    Avatar of Lyerin
    Lyerin
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    Family members during decluttering

    I am ruthless with books too. If it isn’t something I love and want to re-read again, it goes out. A few years ago, I actually got rid of over 100 pounds of books (all mine). Dh didn’t want to get rid of any, but as long as I was giving away only my books or ones where we had doubles, he didn’t care. It was very liberating to get rid of all of it. Now, I either use the library or my Kindle for books I don’t really want to physically own and buy very few actual books. Dh doesn’t buy many books either (mostly work-related stuff). We are doing well with keeping our shelves contained ever since my huge purge.

  • #206739
    Avatar of lottielot
    lottielot
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    Family members during decluttering

    I bought ds1 a new duvet cover today, now I’m trying to persuade him if he picks all the crap off his bedroom floor then it will all look lovely. It’s like pulling teeth. If he was handy at doing anything then I would try to swap him room tidying for another chore, but then I’d just have to nag him to do that instead. I’m losing the will to live here: how hard is it to follow the instruction ‘I can see 5 books on the floor there. Pick them up and put them on your bookshelf’? Seemingly impossible apparently…

  • #206740
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    Anonymous

    Family members during decluttering

    I have a small victory to report. For the longest time, both the boyfriend and I have had trouble getting enough sleep. One of the problems was that we worked on our laptops in bed before going to sleep, so tended to stay up far later than we should. Two weeks ago I instituted a No Computers In the Bedroom rule. So far so good – my laptop has not seen the inside of our bedroom for the full 2 weeks; boyfriend’s laptop was in on 2 occasions, both times when we chose to watch a movie before bed. And we have meneged to go to bed earlier, which was the point.

  • #206742
    Avatar of irishbell
    irishbell
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    Family members during decluttering

    Lottielot- they do take the patience of a saint at times, don’t they?
    but I’m here to tell you- he will be grown and gone before you know it!
    At least, that’s been my experience, and i may be somewhat nutty.

  • #206743
    Avatar of irishbell
    irishbell
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    Family members during decluttering

    Anita- good idea about the computers!

  • #206747
    Avatar of lottielot
    lottielot
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    Family members during decluttering

    Irishbell: I know! But in the meantime they are driving me insane!!

  • #206757
    Avatar of clutterbug22
    clutterbug22
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    Family members during decluttering

    Lottielot,
    Tell me about it! I went into meltdown a couple of times this weekend! Friday, after clearing out part of ds’s room, lugging loads of furniture around and installing a new chest of drawers, then doing some housework, then starting dinner and then breaking off to pick up dh from train station after work, all I wanted was for the kids to finish getting off the computer and lay the table whilst the now ready dinner was starting to burn. Just a 2 minute task! What usually happens is that we all sit down and then I have to continuously move whilst one of the kids wants a drink/sauce/something which had not been put on the table, I have been asking them to take on laying the table for months. So – meltdown 1.

    Saturday, went food shopping (which I should have done Friday but busy doing ds’s new chest of drawers). Also, had to look for present for ds’s friend’s party on Sunday. Wanted something piratey. Couldn’t find anything piratey. So, after 3 1/2 hours traipsing round doing food shop, searching for present and also looking for a pair of replacement school shoes for dd due to her ‘friend’ tearing the sole off by treading on the back, I ended up back home absolutely done in, legs stiff from walking (was starting to walk like a duck towards the end!). Flat was a mess, (I’d done a quick tidy Friday night whilst dh out for a drink with mate), ds still not dressed so didn’t want to help me unload car of shopping, – Meltdown number 2.

    Was absolutely shattered this weekend and I still had to go out shopping on Sunday to find a pair of school shoes for dd!

  • #206759
    Avatar of irishbell
    irishbell
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    Family members during decluttering

    Yes lottielot and clutter bug- my youngest is now 16, and still makes me mental!

  • #206762
    Avatar of clutterbug22
    clutterbug22
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    Family members during decluttering

    @ irishbell, yes, I suppose you just have to try to laugh about it (although I’m still stiff and aching now!) Perhaps a nice glass of relaxing wine will help!!

  • #206766
    Avatar of lottielot
    lottielot
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    Family members during decluttering

    Lol, clutterbug, the only time ds1 started to move faster was when I started to raise my voice :) He did finish eventually, though you really don’t want to think about what’s still under his bed…Tomorrow I’ll help ds2 with his room, hopefully not so bad. The one chore I’ve had the most success with getting the kids to do is emptying the dishwasher. If I’m strict enough, they get into the habit. The person who has to be asked more than twice to empty their half then has to empty the whole thing the next 2 days in a row. Ds2 has to do that next, ds1 has had to do that a LOT and he’s much more prompt lately! You could try something like that with your kids? And don’t go shopping with them!! The shoe shopping is inevitable though, shoe shopping for kids is the worse shopping ever :(

  • #206772
    Avatar of Sinea
    Sinea
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    Wow, lottielot, you are way ahead of me. My husband is OK with filling the dishwasher if I have already emptied it but getting much more cooperation from family has been a challenge! Wish I could teach the dogs to clean. LOL

  • #206776
    Avatar of Jennifer
    Jennifer
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    Just put all the dishes on the floor, the dogs will clean them right up. ;-)

  • #206789
    Avatar of clutterbug22
    clutterbug22
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    Family members during decluttering

    Lottielot,
    I shall have to try that with the kids, (does it work with husbands as well?!)

    No, I didn’t take dd shoe shopping with me but it meant that I ended up getting more than one pair of shoes so that we could see which pair fitted correctly at home, she seems to be slightly different sizes depending on which shoe shop you go to. (The problem now is that I have to take the unwanted ones back, sigh). Mind you, I’m probably the one who makes shoe shopping a bit of an ordeal as I’m constantly asking if there is enough toe space, whether they rub or are too tight at the front etc!!

  • #206793
    Avatar of ninakk
    ninakk
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    Family members during decluttering

    lottielot, I have no idea of how my mom kept my sis and I in order, but will have to ask her at some point. The only thing I can come up with is to shake them into a state of awareness by doing something equally silly. Sis and I apparently had a period when we just left all outdoor clothing in a heap on the floor right inside of the front door (instead of using the hooks on child level) and it drove dad mental, so at some point he had a lightbulb moment which resulted in him doing exactly the same. We of course knew what one wasn’t allowed to do versus was supposed to do and his little stunt was a real shock; grown-ups were supposed to do the right thing, right, and when he refused to, the message finally sunk in. Don’t know whether this would work, but you could always strike for a couple of days in some way.

  • #206798
    Avatar of Conny
    Conny
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    Family members during decluttering

    very inventive cartoonist, probably based on reality:

  • #206800
    Avatar of xarcady
    xarcady
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    Family members during decluttering

    Clutterbug, my parents had the exact same problem about setting the table, with my siblings and I. All of us older kids took turns at setting the table, clearing the table, washing the dishes, and sweeping the kitchen floor/emptying the kitchen trash. For a family of nine, this was *work*. (Or at least, it seemed like it at the time.)

    To get the right things on the dining table at the right time, Mom wrote up a list of what “setting the table” included. Proper flatware, salt & pepper shakers, napkins, glasses, etc. There was also a line about asking the cook what the menu was. If there was salad, you had to put salad dressing on the table. If there were rolls, you had to put butter on the table, and so forth. The list was posted on the inside of a kitchen cabinet door.

    But there were also rules (or as I see it now, consequences). If something was missing from the table and Mom or Dad wanted it, the “setter” for the week had to get up and get it. But if something one of us kids wanted was missing, we had to go without for the meal. Oh, and our allowances were docked 25 cents (which was a lot when your allowance was $1 a week.)

    There’s nothing like the disapproval of your six siblings who’ve had no ketchup for their french fries to get you to pay more attention the next time you set the table.

    And do consider changing your dining table logistics. You should not be sitting where you need to move. One of the kids should.

  • #206801
    Avatar of clutterbug22
    clutterbug22
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    Family members during decluttering

    Thanks Xarcady, you’ve outlined some interesting points to think about. I think it often comes back to that issue of not showing the kids exactly what their tasks are and what exactly is expected of them. We, as adults, often automatically know what needs to be done within a certain task, but kids don’t (or pretend they don’t!!). They will just do part of a task thinking that they have done what you have asked of them. I shall have to try out some of the tips that people have suggested!

  • #206828
    Avatar of lottielot
    lottielot
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    Family members during decluttering

    Hmm, my kids know, they just get distracted/bored/figure I’ll lose the will to live and stop nagging :) Sometimes they can be cooperative, but sometimes I have to get heavy-handed with them. Unloading the dishwasher is their main chore, but I also get them to put half the shopping away (usually successful because they want to know what food they can gorge themselves on in the next day, leaving the cupboards stripped as if by locusts) and they have to put their laundry away (sometimes successful, I had to ask ds1 6 times last week but only once tonight). Ds2 will also very happily polish tables, he loves making things shiny! Ds1 is our ‘runner’, living in a 3 storey house means lots of going up and down stairs so dh always gets ds1 to take things up and down stairs for him…
    I am very pleased to report that ds1’s room is immaculate, long may it continue :) (I give it a week!) I really don’t mind a bit of mess, but it was a health hazard :(

  • #206830
    Avatar of lottielot
    lottielot
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    Family members during decluttering

    Oh yes, and yesterday ds1 had to wear wet trousers to school because he hadn’t put any in the washing pile, I think he may have learnt a consequence there :)

  • #206839
    Avatar of clutterbug22
    clutterbug22
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    Family members during decluttering

    A big ‘Whoop’ for ds1’s tidy room!!

  • #207011

    Family members during decluttering

    This is a site I’ve just come upon, and am so glad to know I’m not alone! I have a husband of more than 30 years and we are at odds with organization priorities.

    Without making this a 3,000 page novel, he grew up in a ‘free and easy’ home. I grew up in a neat, tidy organized home. When we first met, I thought it was pretty cool at his parent’s place that they could be so relaxed. Their place was very ‘lived in”, something I wasn’t used to, and when you’re young, it was a refreshing change.

    After we married, I kept house like my parents. Fairly organized and tidy…a place for everything. Kids came along, and our relatively small home (no basement) started to become a little overcrowded. We never moved to a larger home, as we loved our neighborhood. I’d put in many hours organizing our garage, as he never really cared about his garage. I made sure the kids never went to bed before they had tidied their rooms, etc, etc. I think I should have bought shares in the Rubbermaid tote company. Things were pretty well-organized, despite my DH humorously chiding me in front of others for being a ‘neat-freak’. Our home was always a nice, homey place, and I would say normal. I think that the term “neat-freak” to my husband, was just foreign to him, given his upbringing. I let it go.

    When I spotted anyone and everyone’s stuff and got rid of it, he would get upset. Never my stuff, but always his. I can rid myself of things in the last couple of years I’ve never used, but he can’t get rid of cables, an intercom system from 1975, College textbooks from ’78, books he has never read..”Don’t throw that out..I might read it!” Yet, when it comes down to things he hates of mine, it has to go!

    A few years ago, I was so tired of arranging the garage (seasonal and larger storage, as we are living on one level), I left the garage up to him, hoping he’d have some pride. He just doesn’t care and chucks stuff in left and right, like garden tools (nothing like stepping on a rake in the face when you enter). When we had a common occurence of mice in our area, he refused to go into the garage last year, as mice skeeve him out. He has lost so many tools, he just goes out and buys new ones, as he never puts anything away properly. I have had a trash bag covered paint tray sitting in my back hallway for 2 months and I refuse to have to deal with it.

    One time, when I took down the outside Christmas lights, I noticed that about an inch of the 50’extension cord was horribly frayed and looked dangerous. He saw it in the garbage and was disgusted that I’d thrown it out. He said it could be fixed. After a year being thrown into the garage and never fixed, I tossed it. He has never remembered it. I bought a new one with my own money, and he has now taken possession and I haven’t seen it since.

    In our home, we have 2 valuable deep storage closets. He has taken over one of them with boxes and boxes of work sample products and files. I’ve gently suggested whether his company would entertain renting a storage unit for all the stuff and he wasn’t happy with that suggestion.

    The bottom line is that I am trying my diplomatic best (he complains about my ‘stuff’ all over), yet he can’t see the forest for the trees. He thinks everything he owns is so valuable, and is very possessive of his things. This makes it very difficult for an unclutter. He is very hard to communicate with and gets defensive when I suggest anything. He has definite controlling factors.

    I would love some suggestions.

  • #207014
    Avatar of chacha1
    chacha1
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    Welcome, Sally. In all seriousness: counseling. As you read through some of these threads you will see that peoples’ stuff-related values, and the language we use to talk about our stuff, can be unintelligibly different. Having a third party who can translate between two warring partners can make an enormous difference.

    The objective third party can also sometimes bring to light areas in which the person who is highly motivated to declutter can actually be putting up mental or physical roadblocks for the other person. Unintentional most of the time, but nevertheless effective.

    It can be very difficult for some people, perhaps particularly men, to articulate why “things” have a particular value for them and why they cling. Most go immediately into a defensive posture that no sweet reason can penetrate.

  • #207015

    Family members during decluttering

    Sally — you have my sympathy. My DH is much like yours in many ways and I am struggling to figure it/him/me/us out.

    I’d recommend reading Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Gail Steketee & Randy Frost. I found it very insightful and helpful.

    ChaCha makes an excellent point. I’ve found that my husband looks at the world in a completely different way from me. He has a different concept of time, of space, of clean, of tidy, of usefulness, of attractiveness — I’m sure he is as baffled by me as I am by him.

    I’ve found out the hard way that I can’t dispose of any of his stuff. Even if it is broken/stained/patently useless, it might have some incredible value in his eyes that it impervious to logic. The best I can do is organize it and keep it out of my way.

    Hang with us — perhaps some day we’ll figure it all out!

  • #207019

    Family members during decluttering

    Thank you chacha. Counselling and a 3rd party in our small town will not be likely to take place. It’s hard to change a leopard’s spots, but I entirely understand the psychological aspect of what you’re saying. It feels so depressing sometimes. The suggestion of Counselling will for sure bring on a fuel-fire.

    I sometimes feel that his negativity has brought on my own ‘it doesn’t matter anymore feeling’, and I never used to have a negative bone in my body. I try, but it seems live I am always shovelling the walk while it snows.

    I appreciate your reply so much, chacha and will try to pick myself up. Even though I have tried ignoring the negative (keep positive and remember what you believe in!), he seems to be mildly defiant with everything I try to accomplish.

    If you knew me, you would know I am a calm person, and friends have always said that this diplomatic way of speaking is something they wish they could adopt. I can’t be a naggy sort..it’s not in my nature or personality. I just bite my tongue and burn. That’s the way I am. Maybe I just have to be more forthright.

    Thank you very much for your opinion. It means a lot to me.

  • #207024

    Family members during decluttering

    Susan, sometimes I wonder if I am living with a 2 year old sometimes. It can be mentally exhausting, picking up after him and scratching my head when he leaves dishes on the counter right above the dishwasher…and it’s empty. Yet, when people come over, he seems huffy at the state of the house. We both have full-time careers.

    Thank you for the book suggestions, and your empathy.

  • #207027

    Family members during decluttering

    Hello ScatteredSally. I second susanintexas’s suggestion about the book Stuff. Thanks for sharing your story here.

  • #207028

    Family members during decluttering

    Thanks needtocleanhouse
    Just by sharing, my vent feels as if someone can relate and I felt a good vibe here on this blog.

    :)

  • #207029
    Avatar of chacha1
    chacha1
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    I think that’s why most of us hang around here!

  • #207037

    Family members during decluttering

    Well, I’ll be hanging with you and taking in these posts that are sometimes my life!

    :)

  • #207040
    Avatar of Conny
    Conny
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    Oh I can truly empathize! Although i am partially guilty for having kept too many things for Justin Case, it is a very similar situation between DH and myself: “don’t throw out that Encyclopedia (from 1965) I might still use it!” I dusted 1 cm- i kid you not!!!- of dust off of it 3 months ago. ( yes i did ask him, and no, i cannot get rid of it, not even if it got no use in 3 years (my guesstimate for dust accumulation)
    He has valuable space – near his desk – with stuff that is over 15 years old, won’t even let me put that in a box and in our attic, – let alone throw it away – because he still has to “go through it” and see if he “needs it”, then complains he has no space to put things away near his desk but ends up putting that on our dining room table! and many such stories ad infinitum.

  • #207045

    Family members during decluttering

    Conny, I had a beautiful desk and office setting for 2 years…a desk that was worth $1200.00 when bought. It never was used too much in my home/based – office place business in the room, so I said “Hey, let’s re-vamp this space!”. He never ever used it either, and I got an offer on the desk for $500. My DH said, “Well, I think I can use it now!”. I ended up selling it as I knew he would never use it. He helped the people move it out.

    I have a precious acoustic guitar from my father. DH now decides he wants to play guitar, but not the one we have, but an electric one. He only wants to play an easy one. He hasn’t had a musical interest in his life. I seriously think he has a disorder.

    I think it boils down to a power struggle between us.

    Psychology really bites, but seriously, I think I am living with a young child. The sad thing is that he has a very successful career, but he fails to see everyday stuff. It’s like he wants to always be disagreeable with me. I am a calm person, but maybe he is playing me? I don’t know anymore.

  • #207046
    Avatar of pkilmain
    pkilmain
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    SS – Perhaps a few sessions with a counselor/therapist would help you to find a better way to deal with your DH in these things. It does seem as though he more than normally irrational about letting go of things. As the old saying goes, you can’t change him, but you can change the way you deal with/respond to him. It’s a hard thing, and several people here have the same issues, some on different scales.

  • #207048
    Avatar of Rosa
    Rosa
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    If nothing else, you could get therapy for yourself. You sound like you’re really angry with your husband, and while you can’t force him to go to couples therapy (tho you can ASK), you can get someone to work through your own feelings with.

  • #207049

    Family members during decluttering

    I can’t tell you guys how much I appreciate this. Thank you pkilman and Conny, Chacha , Susan and needtocleanhouse. I am really not needy, I just want my home to feel good and I know you understand of where I come from.

    I look forward to popping in and seeing other peoples conundrums.

    Thanks a bunch and I look forward to more conversations.

    I am a for ‘real person’ and this means so much to me.

    :)

  • #207088
    Avatar of luxcat
    luxcat
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    I am going to try a rather dangerous experiment today… in anticipation of a major move (which yours truly will have to coordinate, long story there…) I have been trying to get into every bag, box, closet and shelf to make sure we are not moving anything that does not need to be moved.

    Over the six years we have lived together my husband and I have always been a bit at odds about duplicates of things in the kitchen. I moved in with a very minimal and carefully thought out kitchen’s worth of stuff, he had a pile of crap which his mother had pawned off on him, plus a few decent pots and pans and such.

    Bit by bit I’ve been (with his permission) winnowing out the crappy stuff (using for example the excuse of wedding gifts to replace old with better quality new) but we have hit a wall with duplicates. He insists that we are going to have a second home “someday”- which we might- but not for at least five more years- and that we must keep all these things for “someday”. Well, I think I am going to use the excuse of the move to get all the “someday” things out of the kitchen and boxed up neatly and labeled “store for 2nd home”. We have not got any storage at all here so that would not have been possible without moving, but once we move we’ll have a garage and a garden shed and at least we can move this stuff where I don’t have to fall over it everyday while trying to boil an egg.

    who knows, we might even use it “someday”

    I’m really hoping he goes for this. I’ve seperated out all of it and piled it neatly on the guest bed for his packing approval. If he doesn’t freak out I will go get packing materials tomorrow. I will I am sure need to remind him “it’s ok, if we *find we need it we can get it back out of the box*

    to quote someone else in this thread, it really is like pulling teeth. he’s quite neat about everything else, but growing up with his Justincase parents really rubbed off.

  • #207089

    Family members during decluttering

    Luxcat: sounds like an excellent plan! I too have found that there are a lot of things that DH cannot part with — and I don’t like to push too hard — but he is OK with me finding an out-of-the-way storage solution that keeps me from having to push the unused (and often un-usable) stuff aside to get to what I need. Not perfect, but better.

  • #207092
    Avatar of luxcat
    luxcat
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    UPDATE-he totally went for it, thank goodness. He also agreed to let me donate this huge cleaver that’s been hanging around for years… another re-gift from MIL I think… since we have not dressed any sides of beef lately (…ever) he let it go.

    He did try to convince me it was something suitable to chop up whole chickens with. Spoken like a man who has never cooked (or dismembered) an entire chicken in his life. I promised I would teach him how to do it with a normal knife, and somehow kept a straight face.

  • #207112
    Avatar of lottielot
    lottielot
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    That is good news, luxcat!
    Welcome, scattered Sally. I can relate to a lot of what you said, I have a dh who likes to shop and who hates to part with stuff, yet like your dh will complain about the state of the house! I go through periods of frustration, fury, despair and acceptance with him :) But I haven’t always been an unclutterer, before I used to just ignore things and put up with chaos. So all this is relatively recent for me, and actually he hasn’t been too bad about getting rid of some stuff. I have to pick my moments verrrry carefully, otherwise he says no flat out. Occasionally he’ll say yes though, and then I’ll swoop in and do as much as possible!
    You do sound really angry with him, and it does sound extremely frustrating for you. Have you thought of storing all his crap for him in one particular place? I find that containing dh’s stuff is about my best move. So getting his ancient suits out of ds2’s room, his work stuff and golf clubs out of the dining room (still working on The Bike), and confining his junk to his space (the loft) at least contains my annoyance with him. If he leaves his stuff in communal areas it’s fair game. Could you have some ground rules? Like his stuff goes in place x, y or z but if it creeps into communal areas it will be thrown out or relocated back to those areas.
    Men, they’re completely infuriating and absolutely illogical. Your dh does sound rather extreme though, that cable was hazardous to health! If you get nowhere, maybe counselling for yourself would be a good idea, it’s not good for that much resentment to build up.

  • #207129

    Family members during decluttering

    Thanks, everyone. Reading these forums is therapeutic to say the least.

    The one good thing is that I’ve found I can usually unclutter in tiny bits when he’s away for a few days. I would never get rid of things I know are sentimentally important to him…never. He doesn’talways miss certain everyday things, but I must tread lightly.

    I’ve often mentioned, lottielot, that if it’s not put away, then I will do it. And I do.

    I may have a busy few days ahead of me, but I’m going to try my best in bits and pieces.

  • #207132
    Avatar of Conny
    Conny
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    I just now decided that i will put encyclopedia set away in attic alottment,(which is one of those places that i have to deal with also, somehow, some way, probably alone- place gives me the creeps!… but that is another month’s goal and a whole ‘nother issue) and if he actually notices and says anything…i can always bring it back down again.
    I could potentially, after a few months,(?) mention that they are in the attic, and if he agrees, that if he doesn’t miss them at all, they can go at the end of the year. I wonder how that will go down. Knowing him, he will say in alarm: “what else of mine have you hidden up in the attic?- “how would you like it if i did that with your things etc, etc”

    …to be continued :-/

  • #207140
    Avatar of rutheverhart
    rutheverhart
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    I think lottie is right about “containing.” Perhaps I’m wrong about how I’m reading Sally and Conny, but it seems really dangerous to try to sneak stuff past loved ones. By dangerous I mean that it might backfire. Wouldn’t they find out and feel betrayed? That would make them hold tighter. I was under the impression that’s how people became hoarders.

    I think I would do the opposite — put the irritating stuff somewhere where they would practically trip over it. In other words, let them live with the results of their holding on to stuff. I think women often feel like they have to make things easy for men, and we protect them from themselves. (even if we don’t realize that’s what we’re doing). So would it work to do the opposite? Make them walk into their own mess. Meanwhile clean up everything that is yours personally (my domain) or the kids.

    My DH used to hang onto stuff, but eventually it was only his areas that were a mess — the kitchen, the living room, the bedroom (except his shelves and drawers) were tidy. He liked the tidiness and started to want his own things tidy too.

    Another thing that helped — shopping together at garage sales or Target, he sees how relatively cheap things are — and his sense of value has diminished. We have had some good laughs. For instance, an encyclopedia set is so worthless that you probably couldn’t give it away — maybe you will see a whole set somewhere for $2 — and that would be a good reality check. Meanwhile if he actually had to pick up the box and move it a couple times, he would see the “cost” of owning it. . . .

    just some thoughts, I know everybody comes from a different situation . . .

  • #207141

    Family members during decluttering

    rutheverhart: I haven’t read the discussions so don’t know if this applies, but just wanted to say it sounds like you are talking about enabling or being an enabler.

  • #207145
    Avatar of pkilmain
    pkilmain
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    Ruth – when I worked at the library, we stopped buying NEW encyclopedias as the ones we had (1-2 years old) were NEVER used once the internet was available. We would routinely get sets of old, and very old, encyclopedias as donations, and they went straight to the dumpster. The information was so dated, especially anything dealing with science or medicine that we couldn’t in good conscience even offer it at our annual book sale.

  • #207158

    Family members during decluttering

    I like the idea of containing, Lottie, and I guess, in a sense, I used to do that by putting any bulky wayward stuff in the garage, as it was the only extra space we had. Every spring and fall, I gently suggest that maybe we can get at that awful mess for a day or 3 and organize. It never seemed to fully materialize, and if I just started the job myself, his stuff possesiveness takes over. I’ve tried and will keep trying.

    For the record, our home can look nicely presentable, just DON’T look behind closed doors, garage, in closets, under beds, in drawers, unused bedroom…basically anything under, in, behind or concealed without risk of head injury. Is there a term for one of my type?

    rutheverheart, I know what you’re saying by all means, but needtocleanhouse has a good point too. Don’t get me wrong, but I refer mostly to those frayed electrical cords, holey socks, donating loads of collected hotel soap, shampoos, etc. (keeps and never uses), cords and cables from long gone and obsolete electronics, dead AA batteries (he keeps in a box and re-tests them, just in case), cheap mugs, caps never worn and any trinkets won in a dollar raffle he’s never used or looked at twice. Stuff like that.

    I have indeed, many times in the past put his stuff (like recently used tools, paint trays, stepladders, etc.) where he has to trip over it, and he just, well.. trips over it. :( I feel, after the ‘raising the family’ years (when cleaning house can be like trying to shovel the walk when it’s snowing), it’s now our time to have peaceful, fairly organized surroundings and I feel that DH should be part of and contribute to that process. I do agree that tidiness brings tidiness for most, but some people are exceptions, then it’s like Grrrr!!!

    I do agree with needtocleanhouse in what was posted above. Speaking for myself, I have no doubt in some ways contributed and enabled the behaviour by turning the other cheek. I can describe myself as being a fairly low-key and complacent personality. I don’t normally get riled up that easily in daily situations. I look around me now and know that any close female friends or family I know were a LOT stronger in setting some mutual ‘rules’ of the house, which I tried earnestly to do for 20 years, but a dozen years ago or so, just felt burned out from it. Now it’s built up. So, in certain ways, I accept some of the responsibility for it. Somewhere along the line, I just gave up in defeat and didn’t have the physical energy to keep up the effort, particularly when I was struggling with undiagnosed hypo-thyroidism for 3 years, feeling zapped. Much better now.

    On the bright side, after reading many posts, I am now soldiering on and have made much progress even today. With mutual agreement, we gathered a load of books to a service club, I cleaned a junk drawer (uhmmm 50 pens? Lol), and we bought a classy closed door storage cabinet to hold all the DVD’s, CD’s, etc. I really like the tip of making the first round (still have some questionable books), and even if DH kept some stuff I would have pitched, it’s at least organized and a 2nd round will come down the road and will be easier and easier, I’m sure.

    Tomorrow, I have even more plans. I had felt so depressed, but now I’m raring to go!

  • #207160
    Avatar of bandicoot
    bandicoot
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    my mother made some pot-stirring remark recently, about whether my husband had had any say in the choice of tiles or fittings for our bathroom renovation.
    he very blithely answered, o no, not at all.
    he said that early on in our relationship, he and i had agreed that we would leave all the small decisions up to me: such as where we lived, how we earned our living, what we ate, how our home would look, who our friends would be,where we would travel to, and what sort of car we drove.
    and he would take care of all the really big serious weighty questions, like how best to achieve peace in the middle east, and which is the superior football code, and which beatles album is the definitive one, and whether or not umberto eco could ever top the name of the rose.

    and is has all worked out fine.

  • #207167
    Avatar of Netleigh
    Netleigh
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    love the decisions that bandicoot’s husband has decided to be in charge of. If he’s anything like my DH he doesn’t care about the bathroom fittings as long as they are functional. However he’s not perfect, he does have difficulty in releasing things that are kept for Justin Case and also has really annoying junk mail abandonment problems where he opens it and doesn’t immediately recycle it!

  • #207169
    Avatar of Charity
    Charity
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    ooh my Dh does that with the mail – leaves little piles of paper on the floor here and there. apparently walking a few metres to the recycling bin in the kitchen is too much for him. really irritating as they are a slip hazard – wooden floors and small children.

  • #207170

    Family members during decluttering

    My DH holds onto junk mail too — especially envelopes, which he views as blank slates on which he can make important notes. If I throw away an envelope, rest assured it has a crucial phone number faintly scribbled on the inside flap. Arrgh!

    Bandicoot — that wouldn’t work in my house, as my job is innately political: I get to make the decisions about Middle East peace. He, however, has total dominion over professional sports.

  • #207180
    Avatar of Northshore
    Northshore
    Participant

    Family members during decluttering

    Today I am able to smile at the memories evoked by these entries. My DH never saw a piece of scrap paper that he didn’t think he should save and use. He even had a stash of unused envelopes from bills that we had paid in person. While I loved him for his efforts to save our natural resources, I have begun to use our store of notepads, half-used notebooks and “good” paper. The envelopes go straight to the recycle bag these days.

    My DH was in charge of music, photography and computers and everything covered by Charlie Rose and his guests. I handled shopping, food and financial planning. We consulted each other and I bought a few CD’s and my first good camera; he always prepared his homemade pizza. I have become distressingly ignorant of current events without DH’s daily recounting of last night’s topics on Charlie Rose.

  • #207183
    Avatar of PJ
    PJ
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    Northshore, I am always so touched by your posts about your DH. I hope it is a help to share your memories of a good marriage . . .

  • #207198
    Avatar of Netleigh
    Netleigh
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    Now if my DH actually used the envelopes as scrap paper that would be slightly more acceptable but it’s just outcrops of opened junk mail left wherever he opened it!

    Northshore, glad we have given you a good memory jog for a habit of your DH’s, he was environmentally sound even if you ended up with too many scrap paper stores. What or who is Charlie Rose, a TV news show?

  • #207201
    Avatar of pkilmain
    pkilmain
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    A broadcast journalist and interviewer. He has a late night show on PBS, our public broadcasting network.

    My DH is the antithesis of yours, Netleigh. He thows most of the junk mail away unopened. Catalogs, mostly, go directly to the recycle tub. He has plenty of other “faults” but cluttering is not one of them, that’s all me. :)

  • #207203
    Avatar of paisley
    paisley
    Member

    Family members during decluttering

    Susanintexas and bandicoot’s husband– could you two spare a couple hours on that Middle East peace project? It could use a little attention.

    From the looks of these posts, it seems that my house should be in better shape than it is. I don’t think DH really objects to getting rid of anything (except books), it’s just that decluttering will never get onto his to-do list. He doesn’t seem to “see” the stuff and it doesn’t bother him. I have found the suggestion here of giving him a small stack of things to go through works best.

  • #207229
    Avatar of Northshore
    Northshore
    Participant

    Family members during decluttering

    PJ, Good memories are comforting; talking about DH with people who knew him is best. I am still surprised at how much I miss him; didn’t know it was possible to be so sad. And annoyed with myself that I didn’t pay attention when he was explaining how he had hooked up the wireless network or what was backed up where! And what is this bin of mystery cables? Life and uncluttering go on.

  • #207237

    Family members during decluttering

    ScatteredSally: There were 2 or 3 threads about hoarders or the tv hoarders that address what you’re talking about. They’re somewhere in the past threads. I wanted to point them out to you because I think they would be helpful to you. Good luck.

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