The world before Marie Kondo…
After my parents moved to Indiana, ALL rooms were full. Every closet in the entire property was packed to it’s ceiling. A large storage unit had been procured and filled as well. Needless to say this was overwhelming for EVERYONE in the house. When they moved into our address, we had three other high school students, not our offspring living with us. (No, I am not a raging alcoholic – but I dabble.) Mom and I worked day in and day out sorting and purging. Then my mom would take items out of the purge pile, “Maybe later I will part with it, but I need to keep this now.”
It was too much for me to just suggest she could live without this AND that. We would take breaks. However, the tension was building and mom voiced more than once that “I was just dismissing all of her things.” The frustration and hurt feelings were carrying past the time we finished sorting each day.
What my mom isn’t aware of, is the enormous amount of things my household let go of in order to accommodate her influx of boxes. The storage closets she filled in our space, had had previously “occupants”. Also unbeknownst to her, everyone was feeling their stress and anxiety levels rise. This wasn’t something happening “to her”. It was happening “with all of us”. I brought in an organizing specialist!
Enter Shirley. Shirley could say the exact thing that I had said the day before and my mom was ok with it! Thank Goodness!! That is why I hired her. Initially Shirley had asked that I stay with her and mom while they worked. After a few sessions, I was able to leave them alone. Removing myself, meant my mom removed the association of losing her belongings and me. Win. We scheduled Shirley for twice a week initially. Mom had homework that she was to complete before the next session. The homework eventually became more difficult to complete due to the belongings that were being sorted. This moved Shirley to once a week. And then twice a month. Then, “we will call you.”
Shirley made a tremendous dent in organizing my mom. However, enough is enough when your parent can not do more.
What doesn’t change – the hoarding tendencies- especially paper. grocery bags. Any bag. recycling. Now I am heading into a tangent. Stopping.
I am convinced the sorting and purging does not end. Especially considering the above statement. So, once we got to a place where everyday did not need to focus on it, we addressed it weekly. Sometimes more. Sometimes less. What that opened up, is time to LIVE!!!!
So moving forward, when cleaning or just spending time in my parent’s space – I pay attention, make mental notes. Then when I can return undetected, I “process” the hoarding items. I am not suggesting stealing! I am encouraging you to toss the items that are creating clutter. In my case this can be anything from recycling, to bags of unopened pinecones to plastic bags. I actually found a box of carefully reclaimed Dannon yogurt drink containers. “I have an idea for a project,” she told me the first time I found them. I located these gems under her sink buried in a brown box in a bag, behind other boxes.
Grab opaque black trash bags! Load them and tie those puppies tight! Straight out to the trash cans.
Not everything that has been saved for 70 plus years, is trash. Prayer cards from funerals. They have meaning to my mom, but they are in this box and at the bottom of that basket. In the jewelry cabinet… This took some thought. As I continued to find these buried away with everything and anything – like toiletries and prayer cards… we created a central location. After a year plus that location was overflowing and more were still being found. No hoarding here!
The solution occurred to me – after explaining and showing my mom what my suggestion was, we started. I took her day planner and the stack of prayer cards. For each person there is now an entry in her day planner to pray for them on “their day” (day of death or day of funeral mass). For some people that I didn’t know (and wouldn’t know in the future), I made notes that made sense to my mom to help her remember who it was. Next she read each prayer card and we disposed of most of them. She kept a few family ones and we just clipped those into the day planner. This will add time to my prep of the next day planner – but I’ll take it!
Be creative when searching for solutions. Each solution depends on your loved one. I can share what worked for us, for the right now. Doesn’t mean it will be your solution. Hopefully it will help you think outside your box and know someone else is out there with you!
Black trash bags, a caregivers best friend. Seriously. My mom can’t see into them and is hesitant to open when confronted by it in the trash can. If I had a free coupon, I would send it to you! It can be life changing IF your loved one fishes through your trash.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for being a caregiver.
P.S. The professional organizer’s name was not Shirley. I am too lazy to dig out her card. If you are in Northern Indiana and are interested, I’ll make the effort.
Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.Albert Einstein