Follow Up on Moving Packrat Parents

janetwilsonJuly 6, 2005

Mother and I spent much of the weekend packing things up while Dad and DH did some repair work on the house and painting.

While cleaning out bedrooms we had 3 piles - (1) STORE FOR NEW HOUSE; (2) DISCARD; and (3) DONATE. I am happy to report that MOST things were either donated or discarded. We put donate and discard items into large black garbage bags - not being able to see what is in the bag helps eliminate anyone's temptation to pull anything out! Discard items are taken to the curb for trash pickup (the neighbors hate them right now). Mother scheduled a charity pick up for tomorrow although I'm sure they will be back a few more times before it's all said and done...

We designated things that will be going to my siblings or other relatives and have asked that they be out of the house within the next 2 weeks or the things will be donated to charity. I think I have successfully talked my parents out of the garage sale idea, it's so much easier to just donate items and not store them - plus it's 100 degrees here in Houston!

Tonight we are dropping off one of our cargo vans to leave in their driveway. My thought was that as boxes are packed they can immediately put them into the van and as the van is filled up we can move things to the storage unit. I think this will give them a feeling of accomplishment - walking around in a house filled with boxes and bags is very overwhelming. If the house is relatively clear it should be so much easier to feel that they are making progress.

We toured the new house with them last night and it is very nice, although a lot smaller than the current house. The only thing that worries me is the 4 car garage! I really don't want it to become another dumping ground for their clutter. Although my parents will never be the neat and tidy organized type, I really believe that this experience has been eye-opening for them. Hopefully it won't get this out of hand again.

Thanks again for your suggestions, I know my parents appreciate any advice from people who have gone through this themselves.

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I love that van idea! You're right, it can be ovewhelming to pack and pack, and never see progress.

I'm not a fan of moving stuff over in lots of trips--it can waste a lot of time, and be inefficient. But taking stuff out to stick into the van will not waste much time at all, and it'll make them more productive, bcs they won't have to maneuver around stuff that's already packed. That's in addition to the emotional or psychological benefit.

It sounds like your folks are actually finding it not so terribly hard to let go of stuff--I bet it was more inertia than anything else.

If you really want to help them keep their garage free, and if inertia (rather than an emotional need to keep stuff) is the biggest reason they've accummulated all this stuff, you might be able to help them by suggesting a "clean out the garage day" w/ your help (if they resist, get them to help you w/ yours in payback?). That'll give them an incentive to bother w/ stuff that's not in their way (you can function quite well with half of a 4-car garage stuffed w/ junk, so they may not feel they need to bother)

Thanks for the update; it's fun to hear of other people's success

    Bookmark   July 6, 2005 at 1:49PM
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Well done! And I can see your concerns with the new garages!!!

Perhaps if they (and you) designate one bay for "storage" right at the beginning -- complete with sturdy metal shelving (buy these at a home center) -- and labelled plastic bins -- that just might stem the tide a bit!! Or simply line up the shelving along the back of each bay -- and do storage that way.

The point is -- yes! -- they will put stuff in the garage -- so start off with a plan right away.

Perhaps some shelving near the kitchen door for extra "pantry goods" (like toilet paper and paper towels for example!) and then clearly plan out the rest of the garage space so it doesn't just "melt" into huge piles of messes or boxes that nobody uses!! How about designating space for a workbench and a wall for tall tool storage?

Just some thoughts!! :)

    Bookmark   July 6, 2005 at 3:49PM
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How do you keep a garage from getting musty? Or maybe you don't worry about it by using plastic boxes for storage? I think I'll have to change the way I store things! Boy, would I love a 4-car garage!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2005 at 10:24PM
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Congratulations - I know this is hard. Now if I can start working on getting my husband to "donate" some of his stuff....

    Bookmark   July 11, 2005 at 10:32AM
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This past weekend we moved quite a bit to the storage unit. By the way, those storage units hold a lot of stuff! Two full cargo vans didn't even take up 1/3 of the space.

A local charity picked up 20 large black bags of donatable items. Even more than that went straight to the curb for trash pick up.

Clearing out all of the boxes and bags has made such a huge difference in their sense of accomplishment. They still have a lot of de-cluttering to do but they have made a huge head start.

The new house has a huge laundry room off of the kitchen with 2 walls of built in cabinets. The kitchen itself has tons of cabinets too, nearly 4x more cabinet space than they have in the current house. There are stairs in the garage leading to the garage attic which is completely floored for seasonal storage. Imagine an easily accessible, wide open 80x80 space for storage!!

Unfortunately there will be a lot of furniture that will not fit into the new house. They've been identifying what will work and what won't - then deciding what to do with the leftover furniture.

This is a lot of work, but in the long run I am glad that they are able to sort through everything themselves and we're not having to do it after my parents are gone. I know it would be a lot worse to sort through without their input.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2005 at 7:56PM
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Good Going.
It sounds like you have been a large help to them.
I imagine they truly appreciate it.
I know I would.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2005 at 2:41AM
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Excellent job for all!!! -- and thanks for the update -- always good to hear about such a marvellous accomplishment!

It is always interesting -- and eye-opening too! LOL!! -- when moving into a new place -- and realizing that some things simply WILL NOT fit!!!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2005 at 6:15PM
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What I really enjoyed about this was the comment about the black garbage bags.

Good job!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2005 at 1:07AM
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The house is now officially on the market! It's amazing how much can get done in a short period. My siblings have picked up their stuff and it's all out of the house. The house is still a little too cluttered (for my taste anyway) but big improvements have been made!

We still haven't tackled the garage. DH has a large rolling dumpster for his business and we're thinking of bringing it over in one of his big trucks when it comes time to clean out the garage. Cleaning the garage out in the Houston heat will not be a fun task...

We're keeping our fingers crossed that the house will sell!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2005 at 2:15PM
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Cleaning the garage out in the Houston heat will not be a fun task...

sounds like time for a sprinkler in the side yard!

Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2005 at 3:32PM
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