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decluttering and uncertain life expectancy, the challenge ...

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

well ... i've always had trouble decluttering


(too small bursts, too far spaced, to achieve much visible results)


now, i've been diagnosed with some medical condition that's potentially life threatening in some cases

I do hope I'll be among the cases that do respond to treatment ....

but it is scary in any case,

i was already slow to declutter, I don't want to feel overwhelmed and paralysed by fear on top of it ...


so if feels a bit like russian roulette challenge ...

how long have I got to live, 3 weeks ? 4 months ? 5 years ? 10 years ?


obviously priorities will be different depending on how things unfurl

(I'll know more about the pace of treatment - how tired or incapacitated I'll be and at which interval- in about 24 hours)


am really looking for some perspective on that ...

I mean if you had 3 weeks or 4 months to live, how would you tackle that decluttering challenge ?

(mainly papers, books, bits and pieces that are mainly mine)


I'm about ok with kids' clothing (much reduced stashes of too small/too big clothing)

DH tackled the toys and kids books last week

Kitchen stuff is mainly under control

my clothing mainly under control too


am in charge of all family paperwork so I need to streamline there

I mean I have a sort of system but I tend not to be regular so I used to let piles of stuff accumulate and tackle them once every 3 months or 6 months or so


+ am always worried that I will throw away something important so still have piles of medium importance stuff that I haven't gone through & worried something really important is just in the middle of that ...


I'm also not very good about dusting and horizontal surfaces get cluttered very fast

=> there might be days when I'll have to have someone in our flat in order to help out with the children

I really would like to feel better about the look of our home


am ok with daily and weekly tasks (except dusting !!!) but still not feeling confident that our home looks "ok"

(some friend told me recently that she felt good seeing the clutter in my home after going to visit a friend whose flat was a bit "too perfect" ...)


any suggestion or advice would be appreciated, tia





post #2 of 23

Hugs.  If it were me I would honestly put decluttering on the back burner.  If this is something that you feel you have to tackle now and if funds are not an issue, you could hire someone to organize it all for you. Your time is too precious. 

post #3 of 23

I hope all goes well for you and your illness responds to treatment.

I also have an illness that is potentially fatal, but I am now in remission and doing well.


Personally.. living in clutter bothers me so much that I would not want to spend my time stressed about it even if I knew I might not have as long time to live as the average person. Actually, that would be a motivation not to put it off any longer. But making sure not to burn out and make myself sicker..


A sudden loss or illness can be eye-opening to the fact that we have so much that simply does not matter and only serves to complicate our life. De-cluttering can be hard but it's so rewarding when your life becomes simpler and easier and you can relax more, something to appreciate when you are ill.


Getting help is a good idea too if you feel like it's too much to tackle on your own.



post #4 of 23

I am sorry to read that you are facing this challenge; I hope that you respond well to treatment and that the prognosis will be good for you.


If I had 3 weeks to live, I would not be even thinking about decluttering.  I would just relax and enjoy time with my loved ones.


If I had a few months to live and was well enough to do this, I might deal with getting rid of clothes and personal effects that nobody in my family would need after I am gone.  Also would work out which jewellery etc I would pass on to which child of mine.


If it was more likely years to live then it would just make me become more disciplined about decluttering in general.


This is something I have often thought about, as we have had a few battles with cancer in my family, it does make me think...how would I feel about people going through my things if I died. So I have instructed DH to make sure he and ONLY he goes through my things if anything happens to me. Or my daughters if something happens to both of us.  I couldn't think of anything more upsetting to me than my MIL stepping in (as she does) to be 'helpful' and sort out my personal things.


post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 

thank you for your replies, reading your thoughts helps my brain not to give in to panic


right now am preparing for the hospital visit that will give me an idea of what my week will look like


so this early morning was "business as usual" (opening the windows, watering some plants, a drink, cleaning the toilet, folding laundry & putting on another load ... then preparing my hand bag -not sure if the visit will be 30 minutes or if they are going to keep more more hours for more tests ...)


children are not up yet because we had rather a few late nights when on holiday last week and came back on the night train yesterday

DH has morning off to take care of children but potentially can remain if I ring him that I'm staying longer at hospital

(have been without a cell phone for the last 3 years, now wondering if I should get one or not ... for better coordinating childcare in the future months ...)




post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 

ok; so the one appointment this morning lasted a bit, but that was just an overview of what's to come

two days in the hospital this week; tomorrow Tuesday and on Friday (about 8:00 am till past 3:00 )

Dh taking days off for the children


am heading to the park shortly to keep the children busy

(need to take some knitting or crochet so as not turn nutty ... and keep my hands busy and my mind focused on "something else" ...)


planning to tackle at least 3 or 4 boxes (from our last move nearly 3 years ago....) tonight after the children are in bed or early morning

(am sure if I go to bed too early, then I'll be up before dawn ....)

... but I don't like the advice of "if not used for the last year, then you don't need it, just chuck it away ..."

because in one of these boxes that i had not had time to sort through (or rather too stressed out to do it in fact)

10 days ago I had to fish out my mammographies from 5 years ago and 7 years ago ....



post #7 of 23
Originally Posted by IsaFrench View Post

... but I don't like the advice of "if not used for the last year, then you don't need it, just chuck it away ..."

because in one of these boxes that i had not had time to sort through (or rather too stressed out to do it in fact)

10 days ago I had to fish out my mammographies from 5 years ago and 7 years ago ....



I've never found that advice useful either. Things don't become useless after a year, just because one has forgotten about them, (especially not mammographies.)


Sounds like your DH is being very supportive. 


Good luck for next week's appointments, and re doing things to keep your mind on something else, that is a good idea.  hug2.gif


post #8 of 23
(((Hugs!))) Hope you get good news. In the grand scheme of things, stuff really isn't that important. Just do what makes you happy for a while. I don't feel well or function well with a lot of clutter, so I would probably try to focus on that too.
post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 

thanks for the validation Clutterwarrior, am glad to see in writing that am not the only one ....


plans for boxes tonight ... didn't happen (procrastinating ?) ... I suddently realised that I really really wanted to make an effort on floors tonight

(so that I'll be ok for a few days to come)


can't get to sleep, alarm is going to ring in less than 5 hours ...


at least have used FB to set up some playdates/picnic for Wedn and Thursday (should be functionning about ok, it' s after the Friday session that I might be unwell, but then it will be week-end so potential solo parenting for DH if I feel too unwell ...)

post #10 of 23


Originally Posted by clutterwarrior View Post

 Things don't become useless after a year, just because one has forgotten about them, (especially not mammographies.)

I think the bit about throwing things out after a year was never meant to apply to records that one might need to access later. To extend that, I would submit that it would also not apply to items that you haven't used in a year but fully intend to use again at a future date--like baby clothes & gear, if you plan on having another baby--just because you haven't used them in a year doesn't mean you won't. I think it is mostly meant for stuff that just doesn't get used, period.


post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 

OP here, updating on progress

am resting after a first course of treatment (a few side effects, but manageable for the moment )

it ended up that I was in hospital every day of last week, just some days were walk in and out (once for 50 minutes, the other time for 5 minutes in the morning then 3 hours in the afternoon but 3 hours later ..), with two much longer days (Friday i stayed in the same room for more than 10 hours ....)


normally, I should have no medical appointments for the next two weeks and DH goes back to work tomorrow so it will be

- parks to meet up with other moms and the children to play outside (once or twice a day, depending ..)

- trying to carve out an hour or two a day for decluttering

- getting the two eldest to resume summe workbooks activities which were totally dropped for the last two weeks


school supplies are nearly all baught, labelled and packed in bagpacks (that was done just before we had confirmation of the diagnosis, during the wait)


now I need to discretly (= when they sleep) weed out what really must be kept from last year or not,

they would keep everything, every revoltingly dirty scrap of paper, we don't have the space ...


baught a new T-shirt to wear tomorrow, but already know which one is going into the "to give" pile

learned from this excellent sub forum about the "one in,one out" rule ....


yesterday went through socks with DS (who has issues about clothing itching or not feeling "right") we had baught some new ones, so managed to make him look and sort out and discart some that were given to us and he would never wear anyway ... he's still very sad that his favorite ones -I just cannot remember where I baught them - are falling to pieces and that I'm discarting the ones with holes one by one ....

at least he's made some progress, two summers ago, he had a fit after I threw some of his totally worn out socks ... I really thought that on that day we would not be able to go out, he was so stubborn about which socks he could wear or not ....


am off to try to have another nap after putting up a load of laudry to dry

and started a load on hot with our bathtowels

post #12 of 23
You're doing great! I can relate with the little one who doesn't like to get rid of things. She's getting much better with clothing, but toys are still tough. Hang in there, and no guilt if you don't get to do an hour of decluttering. Little by little works too. Just 10 minutes here and there is also good.
post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 

thanks for your encouragements

today no decluttering

but went to the park twice & to the optician in order to order the lenses for the glasses of the two eldest (this year we are keeping the same frames)

at least I have it in my mind in various part of the flat that .... this will get into a bin, this will get into the donate bag etc ....


actually need to take a sleeping medicine NOW so that I can wake up early tomorrow (earlier than them !) and get going a bit for about 30 minutes of decluttering ...


have spent too much time on the phone tonight already but it was to arrange for a playdate with another mom for tomorrow morning

because I don't want to be spending the reminder of the school holiday not doing anything with the children !

juggling to try to do a bit of everything ....

post #14 of 23

Your doing a great job, momma! Love to you...

post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 

LOL the 30 min ended up being 4 minutes !!!

difficulty = trying to work it out WITH DH

(sometimes he thinks that when I ask his opinion about something it's because I have none of my own and therefore is very desappointed when I just don't do exactly and only what he told me he was thinking ... the idea that I'm looking for a balance on both our opinions is vers slowly getting into his mindset ...)


this time we are working on soft toys

eldest DD had about .... 60 in her bed + smaller blankets that I knitted and crocheted for their baby bed but they still hang on to two each

(and sometimes youngest DD goes to sleep with her, they must be so hot and cramped ......)


during our hurriedly trip back on night train we had an interesting conversation with the ticket controller who has no children yet but two nephews regularlry for sleepovers & ended up talking a good 15 minutes about size and number of soft toys allowed in beds according to age .... => it's a bit annoying to me that my children are more receptive to what strangers tell them than what I have been telling them for ages .... but,well, took advantage of it the next night and stuffed ALL soft toys in 3 HUGE plastic bags & told them to choose only 5 each


now the plastic bags have been sitting in our bedroom (whilst I was busy at hospital last week)

got one of these pop up mesh hamper yesterday

asked DH to make two piles of keep/give & went through is keep pile and removed half (he was not too happy ...)

but in his "give pile" (two huge plastic bags) I know there are some that I'm going to rescue ...


but no time to do that right now, will have to wait until the children sleep tonight

because I need to fold laudry so the drying rack is free for the next load to put up

and prepare sandwiches and bags to meetup with a friend and her children ....


glad I took some pills to help me sleep last night, they ARE addictive unfortunately , but I feel so much better having slept more than 7 jours in a one stretch ...

post #16 of 23

I am so sorry about your illness. This is the time to call on all your friends and family to help.

post #17 of 23

Isafrench....you are doing such a great job. I so admire your attitude of calm organisation. Thinking of you.

post #18 of 23
4 minutes is better than nothing! LOL! In your case, I would be taking something to help me sleep too. Sleep is very important.
post #19 of 23
Thread Starter 

another day busy with picnic in the park

with two english speaking moms who both know and I feel good being with them etc ...

and the children play well together although they are not quite the same age ....

so that the children get away from TV/computer


an ex-neighbor dropped by that same park at the end of the picnic , she's ok but very chatty and it can get tiring because she asks one question after another and has a flow of speech which shows a bit that she's an impatient, anxious type of person


(I had seen her briefly on Tuesday whilst shopping and instictively choose not to disclose about my illness, hoping that the children would not blurt out something to give it away, it worked, I talked about it later on that day with the 2 eldest, saying that I don't always want to say it to people I meet every day etc ....)


am quite pleased with myself because I managed today to chit-chat for two hours without letting it out ...

but am ready for a mini nap now because we came back on foot and it's hot


it might be that I'll get 9 hours by myself tomorrow during the day => hope to really make a dent in the decluttering process ....

post #20 of 23

Dropping in rather late to the party...  But if I was in your position, the thing I would do first is to make sure DH has the passwords for all of the online banking and internet bill pay accounts that I have set up.  I rarely get paper bills anymore, and he has no idea how I've organized it all.  Come to think of it, I should probably write it all down anyways in case I'm ever in a car crash or anything...  I'd also get phone numbers of family and friends organized and written down in one place.  


Regarding my personal items...  Aside from putting aside items I wanted to go to specific people, I'm not certain I'd care about organizing/decluttering!  But I can also understand not wanting to leave a mess of papers, books, clothes, etc. behind for your DH so sort through.


Best of luck to you with your treatment.  I hope everything goes well and you have a good response.

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