Sunday, January 19, 2014
How to Get a Packrat to Downsize aka We are having a Garage Sale!
Due to the pack-rattery there were times where she lost/misplaced/repurchased the same article. We found no less than 9 hammers, 20 pairs of scissors, 8 screwdrivers...you get the picture. No, she is not a tool hoarder but when my stepfather died 15 years ago she felt the need to continue to carry these tools from home to home. She had boxes that hadn't been unpacked in 20 years, seriously.
How to get a pack rat to downsize? Well, in this case she had to as she was moving to her new condo of which the living size was similar to her old home but there was no gigantic shed to hoard things in (there is a wee one that is now mostly empty not to be filled up again). She no longer has to do yard work so all yard work tools except one pair of gloves and a rose bush trimmer have been gotten rid of. We live two blocks away so she gave us all of her tools except one hammer, one screwdriver and a jar of screws/nails. If she needs anything we will go over and fix it. Hubby has gone through the tools and what he doesn't need/want will be sold at the garage sale. There are at least 12 large full Rubbermaid containers that I am going to tuck under our house in the crawlspace waiting for the sale.
She hasn't sewn in 20 years yet she refuses to let go of her sewing machine or much fabric. She did let go of her serger which I managed to sell to a co-worker and we got all of her fabric down to one Rubbermaid container.
If I sound a bit iron-fisted in all of this, the answer was that in order to achieve the downsize and move, she had to be pushed to go through every single thing she owned and decide if she wanted to keep it or let it go. Some items she insisted on hanging onto originally have now gone into the sell pile upon unpacking.
The secrets to downsizing a pack rat:
1. If they say they want to let something go immediately haul it off to the dump/goodwill/your house for the garage sale. If it stays in their living space they will change their mind.
2. Do it slowly over time. In some ways if we hadn't started downsizing in Spring to when her home finally sold in December we would have hauled 3 times as much stuff to her new place.
3. Don't force them to get rid of anything. I would hold up items and she would say keep/give away/sell. Don't assume things are unsellible, if you do they likely won't get rid of it. If it doesn't sell at the garage sale I will then haul it to goodwill/freecycle it.
I also noticed that although it is great to keep things around that are still usable, new technology has made things much smaller: She has an old 80 lb computer monitor and 500 GB hard drive which is slow as the 7 year itch. She has a gigantic tube tv which is 11 years old, her last tube tv bit the dust when her moving truck rolled the last time she moved (true story - Allied Van Lines rolled because the driver fell asleep). We have decided to give her our 3rd laptop which is currently in the shop getting a new fan. We had used this as a backup to our 2 company computers but if required she can lend it back. I fully expect her to be hanging out more on the internet as the laptop is much easier to use/faster. She will also have more space in her office. Funny story, I dropped the computer monitor in the move when unpacking. Darned if it didn't hurt it one bit lol. It hit the floor pretty hard too. Built like a tank. She also has a full rubbermaid container of pictures. New digital technology in the world of photos have made things like photo albums a thing of the past. Maybe we will scan them one day, but that sounds like a ton of work so for now, she gets to keep that container.
My mother managed to get rid of at least 40% of her belongings. We finished the unpacking on Wednesday within 30 days of the move, which I think is an accomplishment and I hauled off all the rest of the flattened boxes and packing material. She now sees she still has too much of certain things and actually asked me to leave 2 boxes behind for her to continue the process. So, if you are a pack rat or are related to one there is hope - it is just a very slow process!