A few weeks ago, I was thinking through everything that had to be done in order to get our house ready to sell. I’ve always subscribed to the theory that, in order to avoid becoming overwhelmed by an enormous project, it’s best to break it down into smaller, manageable parts.
I did that. And, because I’m an anal retentive Type A person, I wrote down each area that needed to be addressed and put together a loose timeline.
To be honest, I was exhausted merely thinking about all of those things.
Not-So-Fun Fact: A little behind the scenes nugget from Simple Year 2: The weekend before the construction crew came to move all of our furniture and stuff to the sunroom, we had to go through mountains of crap before their arrival. I was so overwhelmed, I had my first full scale anxiety attack. Vomiting, diarrhea, heart palpitations, sweating, the whole 9 yards. I need to avoid this.
So, I did what I always do when I’m exhausted and my body has checked out: I mindlessly scrolled through Facebook.
I’m glad I did, because in a local Facebook group I’m part of, I came across Michelle, who has a side hustle helping people pack and unpack from moving, organizing and, *cue the hallelujah chorus* DECLUTTERING.
I reached out to her, explained the big picture of what needed to be done, and made sure she was okay with working WITH my children. They are teenagers and still learning life skills.
Going through the decluttering process is an important thing to learn and practice, so I needed to make sure Michelle was willing to work directly with them. She was, so we scheduled our first 4 hour session.
My teenagers were less than thrilled that we’d be tackling the garage – TOGETHER – for 4 hours on a Sunday ON THANKSGIVING BREAK MOM, but ask me if I cared.
I originally planned on having a garage sale, because I had acquired
some a metric ton of clothing items I had planned on flipping (this is a long story for another time, yes, I learned my lesson), but when Michelle arrived she suggested donation as a better alternative. She works directly with a specific charity that helps battered women and children. AND SHE WOULD TAKE THE DONATIONS AND DROP THEM OFF.
In a complete role reversal, Stephen was jumping for joy. Although, I suspect it’s because he had no interest in helping with a garage sale, but whatever. Tax deductions and good karma are fine. There were two piece suits in there, brand new with the tags still on, that will be perfect for job interviews.
Now, you may remember that we live in Dallas, Texas. It’s warm most of the year. But, NOT ON GARAGE CLEAN OUT DAY. No, ma’am. It was maybe in the high 30s.
I had on my warmest coat and wool gloves from New Zealand and I. Was. Miserable.
But, I digress.
We woke the teenagers (it was 10 a.m., they were grumpy), and headed out to the garage.
Observation: I’ve found there is significantly less attitude directed towards parents when a complete stranger is the one encouraging teenagers to focus. Parents: 1, Teenagers: 0.
A Little Look Back at Simple Year 2
As a brief recap, this is what the garage looked like during our Simple Year, after we’d worked on decluttering:
I couldn’t readily find pictures of the garage BEFORE this pic in October of 2013, but I know it was stuffed full, from top to bottom.
Once Michelle arrived, we jumped right in, but I was able to snap a few pictures of our garage shortly after we started. The day before, Stephen spent a couple of hours going through his tools and things.
Since I cannot physically lift anything heavier than a book, everyone else moved everything out of the garage and onto our driveway.
We set up some tables in the back of the garage for items we wanted to keep. Items we wanted to donate went directly into the back of Michelle’s minivan.
Recycle went to the recycle bin. Trash in the trash bin. Bulk pickup in our side yard. (We looked up bulk pick up dates, and we were not permitted to put bulk trash on our curb until the following weekend.)
Everyone made VERY FAST decisions as to whether something was keep, donate, or recycle/trash. This reminded me of the KonMari method detailed in the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. (Not an affiliate link.)
There were many boxes of keepsakes that couldn’t be sorted through in two seconds, so those were placed on or under the tables in the garage for a future time. Specifically, an INSIDE THE HOUSE WHERE IT’S WARM AND MY FINGERS AREN’T NUMB AND MY LIPS AREN’T BLUE time.
I will say, though, I found artwork that I had done as a child. WHY DO WE STILL HAVE THIS? I was throwing it out, when the Girl found a piece* I’d done using imprinting and aging techniques on foil. MOM, THIS IS SO COOL. YOU SHOULD KEEP IT. A debate ensued.
This was what our garage looked like after two and a half hours with all of us working with Michelle:**
A few comments/observations:
- Most of those bins in front of the tables are EMPTY.
- Yes, that’s what we refer to as a “granny potty.” Recovering from spine surgery is a bitch. I’m so glad I don’t need that thing anymore. Or the old lady scooter. Or the crutches.
- Question: How long does it take for Coke to evaporate in an unopened can? #AskingForAFriend
Michelle works in blocks of 4 hours, so with the remaining hour and a half, she went to work in The Boy’s room. She and The Boy were able to go through three bookcases that were cluttered with papers, keepsakes, and God knows what else.
I didn’t help. At all. I was not even a little bit sad about it, either.
The Boy is now 16, so he is old enough to make those decisions. And he was smart about them. He came to me with things he wasn’t sure about, like his first walking shoes. Those sentimental items were placed in a box for me to address. You know, later.
Michelle is coming back several weekends in December and we will tackle other areas. I’m excited about this.
By scheduling set dates and times, and knowing we’re paying for that time, there’s built in accountability there. We can’t just decide we’re tired and watch a movie instead.
I feel like having someone who understands what we are trying to do, but has no emotional attachment to anything in our home, is an amazing boost to this process.
Being very physically limited makes every activity feel like scaling a mountain, even when it’s not a big deal for anyone else. Knowing I have that extra physical help definitely alleviates the pressure and overwhelm.
Yes, we are paying her for her time, which I understand may not be an option for everyone. I’m aware that this is a luxury and am grateful we can do this.
If did some brainstorming for those who may not have extra money in the budget: You could ask a friend to help out in exchange for a home cooked meal or babysitting. Or, you could ask around to see if someone would trade their time for first dibs on anything you don’t need anymore. They may be interested in reselling some of those items for a profit.
So, the decluttering continues. We have a plan. And a (flexible) timeline for the move. I’m excited about the idea of having EVEN LESS stuff, LESS house, and LESS to manage.
*I’m giggling as I use the term “piece” to describe anything I made as a kid. I mean, come on. SO PRETENTIOUS. Not to mention presumptuous. Please insert epic eye roll here. Also, behold the masterpiece from when I was maybe 10 or 11 years old. This is why I’m not a professional artist.
**I cannot figure out how to format this so it ends up pretty in the blog post. I’m publishing anyway. Perfect is the enemy of the good, as they say.