During this last visit I was house-sitting for my folks while they were out of the country and I was able to take care of one room. I repainted, hung new window coverings, and removed the clutter. I was hoping the feel of this one room would inspire them.
I'd really like to beg them to declutter. Anyone here help their parents declutter with any success?
It has made me want to strive to live minimally just to avoid having my babies deal with the same issues!
But I feel your pain.
My ILs grew up during the Depression and are now in their late 80s. They had 5 kids. They never throw anything out. MIL still has clothing from when her sons were little, and they are all 50-60 now. She has every stitch of clothing she ever bought.
She is trying to declutter for the reasons you mention. She doesn't want us to have to do it. But it is so against her nature it is unbelievable. She'll spend all week going through stuff and will end up with one small bag of stuff, and even then she can't just get rid of it. Everyone in the family, many of whom live at some distance have to go through the stuff and say they don't want it. It's not good enough to just give blanket permission. The whole thing is just painful.
So I can see how it would seem insensitive, but I think they do have some willingness. I think that perhaps what's lacking is the energy. My harping on them won't help, though. I think it's something I'm either going to have to do with them or like a pp mentioned: just hire it out when the time comes.
Darn, though. Aren't people living in clutter unhappy? That's insensitive of me, isn't it? I just think they would obviously be happier with less clutter and a more peaceful house. Yes - I see the problem with this thinking.
Besides, painful as some of it might be: it's probably less painful than going through things while you're mourning and possibly pressured for time (assisted living or whatever).
Andrea , wife to K , mother to
all three were pack rats, too. so, the work that MIL did was not small. all three had large, suburban homes with full basements, full attics, and full garages (cars kept in the drive way).
so, she spent about 2 years decluttering her space. i know that she has gone through and gotten rid of a lot of stuff, finished projects that were decades old and used those things, etc. but she's still packed to the gills and collecting as we go. she can't let go of many things--such as a box of knitting needles combined from the three homes she cleared out.
while it will be many years before they pass (they are 65ish and healthy), it will not be fun to clear that place out.
But if she weren't interested in the subject, I don't think it would be ok to initiate the conversation directly. So if your parents are willing to have a conversation about assisted living options, funeral planning, health care proxy stuff, etc., then I bet you could start in by asking "How would you like me to handle distributing your things after you are gone?"
If they're not into those conversations at all, I think the best you can do is casually tell a story about the trials that your "friend" is going through in a similar situation. If they don't take that bait, then I think you've just got to get some friends signed up to support you in a decluttering process that you'll be doing on your own later.
It would be really telling to hear how they handled the changes you made while they were away. If they loved it and embraced it, then you've got a chance of your efforts being appreciated instead of alienating them.
Mom of one child (2008), wife of one husband, tender of dogs, cats and chickens. Household interests: ocean life (kid), bitcoins (husband), simplifying (me).
A couple years ago they faced dealing with a similar situation (dad's mother passed) and when they got home apparently they vowed to declutter to make sure they don't leave their kids with an overwhelming task. But I think the momentum died soon after.
You could also make this time a good bonding experience when you listen to stories from their past, revisit old memories, etc. I think it could turn out to be a wonderful thing that you could do with them on a regular basis. You may even learn a thing or two about your parents that you never knew before
If they are open to the idea, I don't see what the problem is with helping them to declutter. You could tackle the project over a long period of time, every week just do a little bit more with them. But try to make it a special, precious, reminiscing occasion... If you're going to have to do it anyway, you might as well do it now while they are still around to tell you about all of this "junk" and why they kept it
But just be careful in your choice of wording for your reasons behind doing this with them -- because no-one wants to be reminded that they're going to "kick off" soon
I was worrying about this with my parents, but due to a situation whose details I won't go into, their home was contaminated with formaldehyde and virtually everything in the packed closets and basement had to be pitched. I was thrilled when I heard that! Less crap to have to eventually deal with (my parents are in their early 70s)!
mama to and and
My grandfather, who's 90, recently got rid of lots of things so we didn't have to sort it after he's gone (his words - bless him). There's still lots, but I think it's unavoidable.
My two aunts - one has written a detailed list basically dividing *all* her possessions between the close relatives (whether we want them or not!), and the other has a "collection" of thousands of decorative china/pottery animals - I have no idea what we'll do with them! But I'm not brave enough to ask her to get rid of some...
Every surface in his office area is covered in stuff. He found 1 brass liberty bell at a garage sale, so now he has to buy every liberty bell he sees. Same with president busts, Statues of Liberty, etc. And the beer steins. Ack. My mom boxed up a pile of them because she got tired of looking at them, but that open space just got filled up with more steins he found in thrift stores or garage sales.
Every bit of wall space in his office is covered too, mostly in military things...medals, pictures, calendars, etc. I made the mistake of buying him a WWII calendar 3 or 4 years ago...he won't recycle it because the pictures are important history and they need to be remembered. Nevermind that they are all readily available on the web or in books. Nope, he needs to be the keeper of all things WWII.
I think it got worse after having a brain tumor, but I think he always was like this to some degree. It's really screwed up my perspective of decorating though, because it's hard for me to see an open horizontal or vertical space and not want to fill it to capacity.
One option might be to hire someone to help out ahead of time - like in the near future. I think there are people you can hire to help you declutter. (Anyone used one of these?) Of course my mom would have to be on board and would be there. But we'd have moral support and a deadline. Hopefully mom wouldn't spend the next ten years filling it all back up again! My guess, though, is that clutter attracts clutter. And things are so busy in there now that it's easy to lose track of what belongs in the first place.
Last time I went to see my mother I told she couldn't die. She had too much stuff to sort through She laughed and told me to start picking stuff out that I wanted.
Kind of gave me the creeps when she said that though. I get what she means but still.
You can find a professional organizer in your area through napo.net
Good luck! I know I'll have to deal with a lot of that too...
Jessica: wife to my farmer and homeschooling mama to three girls and two boys
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If they have told you that you're it, then I think it's reasonable for you to ask them to make your job easier. I've known for awhile that I'm one of the co-executors for my parents. With my mom, I made a list of all the main "family" items. I asked her to go through it and designate who gets what. I wanted that already decided, by them. I didn't want there to be wrangling. She was fine with that.
Mom to J and never-ending , 0/2014 items decluttered, 0/52 crafts crafts completed
Seeking zen in 2014. Working on journaling and finding peace this year. Spending my free time taking J to swimteam
Well, first of all, are you the executor of their wills, if they even have one? That is, are you for sure going to be the person responsible for dealing with their estate?