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    • #160317
      sharonlynn
      Member

      I am a recently retired housewife, over the last 30 years have accumulated a ton of stuff. All of my children are grown and I have no room to move in my house there is a path throughout the house in which my husband and I walk. We cannot get to anything. I have no idea of how to even start clearing out the junk and every time I try to start I get so frustrated that all I can do is cry. I am looking for any advice or help anyone can give me as where to start.

    • #231886
      liag
      Member

      Need Help

      Most Unclutterers go by baby steps. One room or even one dresser/drawer at a time. Slow and steady. Is there a friend or cousin to stand by your side?

    • #231887
      ninakk
      Member

      Need Help

      Hello and welcome to the forum!

      First of all, take a deep breath. If your mind becomes chaotic, you won’t achieve anything.

      Second, if you’re ready for some action, is your bed used as storage or can you sleep in it? If you can’t sleep in it, I’d remove stuff from it and create a place for rest. If you have room to sleep, what does your fridge look like? Any expired food you could get rid of? Do the shelves and drawers need to be cleaned?

      Third, we have a huge amount of great stuff in this forum and a nice place to start reading, if you’d rather do some mental preparation first, are these:
      https://unclutterer.com/discuss/tags/start-small

    • #231888
      ninakk
      Member

      Need Help

      I forgot to mention that we have some monthly challenges going on that you might want to join. One thing is more than no thing at all 🙂

      A Thing A Day:
      https://unclutterer.com/discuss/topic/atad-february-2013

      Fix A Thing A Day:
      https://unclutterer.com/discuss/topic/fatad-february-2013

    • #231890
      Hansi
      Member

      Need Help

      One thing a day is a good start. Just take one thing and give away / Throw away. It will get easier with time.

    • #231894
      Mimi
      Member

      Need Help

      sharonlynn, if you can only walk on a path between all your stuff, it might be more than only a lot of things. what about help from a professional clutter expert? there are some that offer help via skype, if you don´t find any next to you, e.g. brooks palmer…

    • #231895
      Sky
      Member

      Need Help

      sharonlynn, we are all here to help you. Welcome!

      In addition to what everyone else said, I love Peter Walsh’s book, It’s All Too Much.

    • #231908
      ElFish1
      Member

      Need Help

      sharonlynn, I suggest you start with 3 plastic grocery bags. Label them Give Away, Throw Away, Put Away. Pick a spot (any spot) and touch the first item you get to. Put it in one of those bags. When the Give Away bag gets full, put it in the front seat of your car to drop off at a donation point. When the Throw Away bag is full, put it in your big trash can, and when the Put Away bag is full, put those things away where they belong. If you need ideas about how to set up the places where they belong, I highly recommend Susan Pinsky’s books. Any one of them would be an enormous help, even if you don’t have ADD or ADHD:

      Organizing Solutions for People with ADD
      Fair Winds Press 2006

      Updated and Revised as:
      Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD
      Fair Winds Press 2012

      The Fast and Furious Five Step Organizing Solution
      Quayside Publishing Group 2010

    • #231915
      luxcat
      Member

      Need Help

      I would add to the good advice above….

      the first step is to stop bringing things in, except things you need for immediate use like food, toilet paper, pet supplies. And even then don’t buy more than what you need before your next scheduled trip to the store. Don’t stockpile stuff until you see what you already have got hiding in the house.

      second step… slow and steady wins the race. it didn’t get that way overnight and you don’t need to stress yourself out trying to solve it over night. commit to a short time each day (half hour if you can, or less if you cannot- or maybe two 10 minutes segments spaced out if things get panicky) to sorting out stuff.

      Remove the most obvious culprits first ( the “low hanging fruit”) like out of date food, recycling that piled up, out-dated, torn or badly stained clothing and linens, broken toys or household items, etc. Don’t let Justin Case hang out with you while you are doing this. I’ll Fix It Later is another fella to avoid.

      Then move on to clearing a small area at a time and as Elfish said, either throw it out, donate it, or find a place for it. I use boxes instead of bags for this as I find them easier to deal with, but everyone has their own way. The “putting things away” might take time because you might need to clean out a staging area first for “items to be kept” before you can find suitable homes for them. I was surprised when I last did this (during a major move) that I ended up not keeping all the items I had put in the keep pile, when I really went to find homes for them.

      If all this seems way too impossible, then it might be time to seek the help of a professional organizer to give you some guidance. They can help see solutions sometimes that you might not see. A fresh pair of eyes might help.

    • #231931
      Ella
      Member

      Need Help

      Hi sharonlynn, welcome to the forum. Here is my first gut feeling: If you only have narrow pathways through the rooms of your home, you are in need of more help than “a thing a day” or the other newbie advice we give here.

      It sounds like you would benefit the most by having a professional organizer come to your home, someone who can clearly identify your starting places in each room and teach you good methods to clean out, declutter, and organize your space. Also, a pro will be able to give you clear-headed decision-making support and help you navigate past any emotional obstacles you might run into.

      Here’s one of our threads about working with a pro:
      https://unclutterer.com/discuss/topic/hiring-a-professional-organizer

      Now, I don’t mean to turn you away from using the forum here. It’s a wonderful place for ideas, inspiration, and support, especially when you feel stuck. I think working with a pro AND posting on the forum will yield the best and fastest results for you. Please keep us posted.

    • #231932
      bandicoot
      Member

      Need Help

      welcome to the forum, sharonlynn.
      i agree with ella….a combination of forum participation together with a professional organiser would probably be best for you.
      and to reiterate….it didn’t get that way overnight and it won’t magically clear up overnight either.
      so please be gentle with yourself regarding timeline expectations.
      would any of your kids be willing or available to lend a hand?

    • #231956
      Parsifal
      Member

      Need Help

      I second the suggestion of starting with the kitchen sink. In general, I’d recommend starting with things that allow you to clean other things, such as the dishwasher or laundry area. After that, just start with two areas big enough to stand in connected by a walkway and gradually expand the borders.

      It’s not easy to quit for the day when there is still clutter everywhere, but don’t wear yourself out!

    • #231997
      whit
      Member

      Need Help

      Hi there sharonlynn!

      Along with all the other great advice you’ve gotten here, I would suggest sitting down and picturing your goals. What do you want to do with your time? What pieces from your kids’ childhoods do you want to keep? What do you want your house to look like? This has to be realistic, both in the sense of “you can’t keep/do everything” and in the sense of “you can’t have a minimalist decor if you don’t want to discard decorative items”. If you have some ideas in mind about your goal, it will be easier to choose what doesn’t fit the goal even if it is perfectly good.

      I often gently remind myself that doing things the same way will lead to the same result; sometimes I must push myself to do something uncomfortable. A great concept is that of amnesty – especially if you are a perfectionist, allow yourself to discard in a sub-optimal way. You will do better in the future, but the need for a functional home is now. Finally, check out the thread here in the forums on “Uncluttering Fantasy Selves”. I have found it very helpful!

      Please let us know how it goes….

    • #232002
      chacha1
      Member

      Need Help

      Welcome sharonlynn.

      This forum can be motivating, inspiring, and a great way to keep track of our decluttering efforts … but it sounds to me as though you need assistance “in person.” If you can afford to hire a professional organizer, that is certainly one route. If you have a good friend nearby, or a tolerant relative, that is another.

      The objective eye can make a great difference. But working with someone you know can also be risky: decluttering can be very emotional, and being upset with the process can translate into being upset at your helper.

      However, if you belong to a church in which the members are inclined to help each other, in my opinion helping someone reclaim their home is a legitimate ministry and you might consider asking there for physical assistance.

      If you are truly overwhelmed by tackling this yourself … find yourself a team. Make the first campaign a party. Call it “My Homecoming Weekend,”
      or something like that. You’re going to need a dumpster and/or a pickup truck to haul stuff away as it comes out.

      Before any attempt will work, you have to commit to *getting rid of stuff*. This is not a situation that can be solved any other way. If you have trails through your house, probably 80% of what is in the house is going to need to GO – permanently. Your husband must also be committed to the process.

      Ask for help where you are, and then come tell us how it is going. Good luck!

    • #232051
      lottielot
      Member

      Need Help

      Housewives retire? There’s hope for me yet!

    • #232067
      Rosa
      Member

      Need Help

      Sharonlynn, people have offered you a ton of great advice and support, but I wanted to add one other thing:

      Don’t give up.

      It’s OK to be sad or afraid or regretful, you’re going to be. But keep going. A huge part of the work isn’t the actual stuff taking up space, it’s the mental & emotional stuff – the labor of making decisions, the weight of memories, the learning your own internal motivations & using them. Once you wade through THAT the actual stuff-stuff is pretty easy & you can get or hire help with it.

      The emotional and mental parts don’t make much visible difference. So you have to KEEP GOING through the beginning parts where you’re doing a lot and it doesn’t really look different yet. As long as you’re getting rid of more than you bring in every single day, you will eventually get to the part where it looks a lot better. But you have to keep doing it through the beginning times where that isn’t true yet.

    • #232121
      adragon
      Member

      Need Help

      Hi Sharonlynn!

      Everyone’s given great advice so far, but something no one’s asked yet is whose clutter is it? Is it yours and your husband’s? Or did your kids leave stuff behind when they moved out? Can you ask them to remove their stuff from your house? Can their stuff be packed up or stored more efficiently?

      DEFINITELY don’t give up. It may be hard, it may be painful, your husband may or may not be on board, if he is he still might annoy you… but don’t give up. Think of this like a sort of diet – people don’t get thin overnight (and if they do they tend not to stay that way), neither do houses. If you need to hang on to some things for awhile, that’s OK. It gets easier to let things go with time and practice. It’s all a journey.

    • #232985
      Allison
      Member

      Need Help

      Hi Sharon! First, take a deep breath! Okay, maybe two or three..or ten! Also know that it’s okay to feel frustrated. It is a frustrating situation! Trust me, I’ve been there and I’ve gone through the motions.

      There’s a lot of great advice here, so I’m not sure how well mine will hold up! But, having dealt with what you’re dealing with…I think the whole process depends entirely on where your MIND is at. If you’re very much attached to your possessions, I strongly suggest taking it slowly. Getting rid of even the most trivial of things, can sometimes seem like a mind dauntingly difficult task and it takes time to discipline your mind with the process. What helped me the most with the attachment issue, is seeing it for what it is. Everything took form from something of another form. If you burned it, smelted it down, ripped it into a million little pieces…You would realize it’s all pretty much the same. Also, if it’s hindering your life in any way which it sounds like it is than even if some thing you own may seem of use to you or someone else it’s not worth the cost of the potential personal growth you may have had without it.

      If you are past the attachment phase or were lucky enough to never endure that aspect of clutter, I would tackle one room at a time. Decide what you’re going to do with it ahead of time (charity, recycle it or trash it) then go at it! Although at first it may seem like tackling a mountain, you may just be surprised with yourself at how much you can accomplish just by deciding to take action. It is so worth it and the whole process is very gratifying. Good luck on your journey! You can do this!

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