The Clutter Beast – Part 2
People change homes for any number of reasons. Emptying houses and preparing them for sale can be challenging, even for those whose bread and butter comes from providing property styling services. Fortunately for home stylists, they deal daily with the problems and have a solid set of answers.
We know a lady – a lovely woman with a heart of gold – who keeps every grocery receipt and each Christmas card she receives. Since she is growing older, the space in her home is shrinking dramatically. Benchtops and tables are covered with scraps of paper of all varieties. This sweet lady frequently loses important things such as her wallet and her TV remote. This year, her daughter hopes to move Mum in with her family. OMG. Where does one begin?
If there’s anything more challenging than facing one’s own clutter, it’s facing the clutter of an ageing parent. How do you pry Mum’s fragile hands from the journal where she keeps the tally of wild birds she sees (and has seen) every day for the past 45 years? First of all, you have to pick your fights and start small. Do start. Start soon.
The sooner you develop a system for dealing with clutter – yours or anybody else’s – the better.
The delicate, emotional problems associated with disposing of things that clutter the spaces of elders can be especially difficult for you, as a loved one or care giver, to tackle. Sometimes it helps to have an unrelated other to help. Mum or Dad won’t be likely to kick up a fuss in front of a stranger and will be more likely to put on a reasonable and rational front.
Among the many jobs associated with preparing a house for sale is decluttering, which is often the biggest challenge for those who provide property styling services. Fortunately for the rest of us, property staging operations have lots of experience and lots of decluttering skills at their fingertips.
Whether you can call in an expert or not, remember that the job may look insurmountable, but it isn’t.
You may find that a little direction is all that’s really needed to get the job underway. It doesn’t take long for your parents to see the progress, and they might take off on their own. In the beginning, though, you will probably need to help. Set aside an hour each week to spend with your aging parent(s) helping them to climb out from under their stuff.
Handling clutter is largely a matter of sorting. You either need it or you don’t. It either serves a purpose, or it doesn’t. Does it work? Could somebody else use it? Those are the kinds of sorting questions we must ask ourselves and our parents as well. The thing to remember is that it will be easier to get the answers from Mum while she’s still around to help. (Anybody who has dealt with the unexpected passing of a loved one will tell you that there is no more exhausting a question than, “What would Dad have wanted done with this?”)
When elders begin stashing receipts and official looking papers it’s often because they are afraid they will be required later for tax preparation or some other ominous job. Ridding the parents of extra paper can be much easier when you help them understand what must be kept and what can be tossed. Then, it’s merely a matter of reading the correspondence, evaluating the document, or otherwise establishing whether or not it’s actually important.
If the folks are insistent on keeping some of this stuff and become upset or agitated by your relentless quest to take it away, put it into a carefully labelled box and put it in storage. You won’t have to re-sort it and it can be dealt with at some future date.
If it has fallen to you to be responsible for the care of an elder parent, you will also need help. If your stewardship responsibilities are thrust upon you unexpectedly, the job can be painful and burdensome. Having the help of a professional can help you design the project – or possibly eliminate many of the small, meaningless tasks. Property styling services cover a broad range of duties and can be tailored to fit your specific needs. Allow us to lend you our expertise. Call us today.

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