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Grandmother won't let me declutter MY stuff

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hey all, I've been a lurker on this thread and have found it really helpful in my decluttering journey. This year I assigned myself the task of getting rid of 1,000 items in 2011 (I'm well on track but it's getting to be a bit of a stretch since I'm a single girl living at home with my mother. Most of my stuff is confined to 1 bed/bath with some items in the kitchen and living space).  Since I can't find 1000 to get rid of from my old house, I'm also decluttering items from my childhood that are being stored at my grandparents' house (we lived there when I was young and we also put a few boxes from our cleaned-out storage unit in their basement temporarily).  


My grandmother has always been passive aggressive and it's really wearing on my nerves as she's making it hard for me to declutter items from her house, even though they're MY items. Every time I go in the basement for awhile to sort through kid's toys or books to donate, she'll come down and sort through it after I'm done and say "Oh, do you think (cousin) could use these?"  It's not that I don't want to share these items with family members, but for me it's just much easier to drop of a big load at Goodwill and go.To give them to cousins would require storing them weeks or months until we see those cousins again, and while the items wouldn't be in my house, I still feel their "weight" since they haven't left yet, if that makes sense.


This past year, my aunt and uncle received guardianship of one of their nieces from another side of the family, and my grandmother is ALWAYS wanting to hold items for her. Again, I don't have a problem with gifting things, but she already has many toys, and if my grandmother gave them everything she wants to set aside for this girl, they'd go home with boxes and boxes of new toys every time they come to visit (about 1x a month).  I have no problem leaving 15-20 age-appropriate toys at my grandparents' house for her to play with on visits, but there's no need to send the girl home with 30 books every time we see her, especially when my aunt and uncle can more than provide for her, and her room at home is already full of books and toys .


Additionally, last year we re-decorated my room and got new furniture. My old desk and bookcase are sitting (empty and unused) in my mother's room because when we moved in 8 years ago, my grandmother bought them for me and now won't "let" us get rid of them. She doesn't want them back in her house, but feels like she should get some of the money back she spent on them, so I can't donate or Freecycle them. Furthermore, she has a ridiculous idea of what they're worth.  She's posted them on CL a couple times but uses the price she paid as her base, rather than what similar items are selling for. I'm not sure of the exact numbers, but say she paid $300 for them. She's trying to sell them for $250 even though every other bookcase and desk on CL is selling for $50-100. I almost want to go dump them and just give her $50. 


Sorry for the long rant, but I'm just looking for some advice, if you can formulate a question out of that post, heh. I guess I want to know if I should just go to her house and sneak bags of my stuff out to the car so she can't go through it? Say something (which may lead her to hold a very passive aggressive grudge for awhile)? Let her continue to sort through and just ignore it because most of the stuff isn't in my house, and it will be gone eventually?



post #2 of 7

I would either schedule to go some time they happen to not be around. If she really wants to pass them on and you're willing to work with her, take a picture of the items, get that persons e-mail and ask if it's something they're interested in- I'd put a week's time limit on this and make it known that that person isn't interested in them so you can pass them on.


She probably wants to know they'll be used- do you have a local charity/church/half-way-house, etc. that you could donate them to? That way you can say that you know this specific person who really needs them.


As for the desk, you need to clarify what type of object it is. Is it your mothers? if so, let her know she needs to take them. Were they a GIFT to you? if so, let her know they've served their purpose and it's your call where they go from here and you owe her nothing.


Good luck!

post #3 of 7
Hmm I think what I'd do is, either take EVERYTHING back (a bag at a time, if you have to) and sort through it at home, or make a new pile of stuff at her house for things you will not come back for. So say she wants to set aside a pile of books to offer someone else -- you can tell her, Sure, I can give these to you to do whatever you want with, or I can drop them off at Goodwill, but once I leave today, I'm done with them, and I don't want to 'own' them anymore. (Horrible wording but hopefully you get my drift!) Yes, this might result in her having a huge pile of your old stuff, but that's OK, as long as it's HER stuff now. And if she ever says (a few years down the line) hey, come get this stuff, you can tell her to just toss/donate it, since you'll know you've already gone through it... Wow I don't think I'm making any sense at all, hope you get what I mean.

As to the desk, if it is yours and it's in your home, I would just Freecycle it. You could give her a warning (Hey, we can't store this anymore, I'm listing it on Freecycle, come get it by the end of the weekend if you want it) but no need to feel guilty for doing what you want with YOUR stuff. I think that is the real issue here -- the guilt. It's YOUR stuff and I think it would be nice to offer it to your grandma if she seems to feel some attachment to it, but once she's turned it down (and by that, I mean, once she's failed to take it into her own home for keeps), then you should just get rid of it. I know I would never be able to declutter anything if I went by what my parents think... My mom and I do offer each other things we're getting rid of if they are 'family' items or whatever, but we both know that if the other says no, we can feel free to dispose of it however we wish... whether it was originally a gift or family heirloom or whatever.
post #4 of 7

I like the idea's pps have suggested. When I was reading your op I was thinking "just take the stuff with you when you leave." If you want to donate it, don't leave it at the house. remove it so your Grandmother doesn't have a chance to look thru it.


I've been going through this a bit with my DH. We just moved and I've been on a hard core declutter/simplify kick. DH can be very sentimental about things and he also likes to save things cause he might use them later. Now I would NEVER remove DH's stuff from the house without his approval. BUT stuff that is mine or was handed down from my side of the family or gifted to me from any source I feel perfectly justified in donating. I've found that if I leave the "to donate" piles in places where DH can look through them he starts taking things back, so I donate the stuff quickly and don't leave piles around for him to look through.


My Mom actually sounds a little like your Grandmother. She has a very  hard time getting rid of stuff or thinks it's worth lots of money and that she could sell it on craigs list for thousands of dollars. My solution for that has been if it's not in my house it's not my problem, but if she's trying to convince me to keep something I don't want or need in my house i just tell her "I don't want it. If you would like it you may have it, otherwise I'm donating it to someone who will use it." and leave it at that.


I've gotten pretty ruthless as far as decluttering goes. There have been a huge improvement in how our living space looks and feels and the ease with which we can clean it, now that we have so much less stuff! I LOVE it so much. I will not be deterred from continuing to keep things simple. So I'm not afraid to be pretty forceful about it. Also I'm really realizing that if I am not using something I would much rather it would go to someone who would use and enjoy it. I have found that repeating that idea alot "Lets get this into the hands of someone who needs or wants it" has been effective with my DH.

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks ladies, I may just have to go up and sort through stuff when she's not around. 


As for the desk and bookcase, yes they are mine (in my understanding anyway, she may view it differently).  She bought them for me as a git when my mom and I moved to our condo when I was 13. We redecorated my room last year because a 20 yr old just has different tastes and furniture needs than a 13 yr old. I would freecycle the stuff, but my mom already asked her last year about what to do with the furniture out of courtesy, and since then my GM hasn't let us get rid of them. I'm not sure if she feels she's owed money from them or what. To me, having used the furniture for several years and getting rid of it when it no longer suits my tastes is different from being ungrateful and chucking it as soon as it was received, KWIM? I think my GM may also be making us keep the desk as a sort of "payback" for my mom, who has stored an old metal bed frame in GM's basement for a few years.  Every time we bring up the desk and bookcase, she brings up the bed. Mom did ask a few days ago if we could give the furniture to a church yard sale, and GM seemed a bit more open to the idea when mom mentioned she could give the bed too, but she didn't explicitly say yes. 


This whole process is just frustrating. She sent me an email today asking what I did with my violin (which I haven't played in 8 yrs).  I removed it from her house last summer, and she knew it was with the intent of getting rid of it. I sold it on CL over 6 months ago.  I don't know why she'd bring it up unless she' trying to get it back for one reason or another. 

post #6 of 7

With the furniture, I would deliver to your Grandmother's house to let her keep/sell/donate as she likes. Then you can be done with it. And in trade you can remove any of your possessions from her house, so you can sort in private without feedback.



post #7 of 7
Originally Posted by rhianna813 View Post

With the furniture, I would deliver to your Grandmother's house to let her keep/sell/donate as she likes. Then you can be done with it. And in trade you can remove any of your possessions from her house, so you can sort in private without feedback.



yeahthat.gif that's what I'd do
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