Vicki here, the founder and CEO (as well as chief exhale officer). I’ve dealt with decluttering first-hand.
It can be a nightmare, it can control you, it can feel like it’s suffocating you. For me, it’s been arduous and emotionally draining, but I have learned a thing or two as I continue to work on this ongoing monster.
Here are my tips to get it under control because on top of your parent’s health care, medical bills, everything else bills, the last thing you need to worry about is the house.
What tips do you have to share with our community who may need to hear it? Feel free to mention them in the Exhale First® Facebook group!
- Hire someone to help you. You may need an unbiased helper, a professional, another pair of hands. I found an awesome professional through the National Association of Productivity and Organizing. Identify a few organizers near your parent’s home, interview them and depending on your budget, go with the one you feel is most appropriate and budgetworthy. They can be a lifesaver!
- Fire someone if you need to. Hopefully it won’t come to this, but if the person you hired does not help and is a waste of time (or if he starts hitting on you in your family room like they did to me—ew!), move on fast. You don’t have time for this on top of everything else. Your energy, every ounce of your being needs to be micromanaged and decluttering is part of this.
- Create four piles. You’ll want to think about what you’ll donate, trash, sell online and keep. And for safekeeping, guard it with your life. If something is precious to you, immediately take it to an off-site storage unit, your home or a safety deposit box. If it’s still in the house and an aide is there, assume it may be stolen.
- Give yourself a deadline. And a hug. This can be arduous and emotionally painful. It may bring happy tears among priceless memories, but it may not be easy especially if your parent’s a hoarder. Cut yourself some slack which is all the more reason why you’ll need someone there to logistically power through and also emotionally support you.
- Start small and declutter before you even have to. Seriously, start with a drawer a day or a corner of a room. Carve out time and a little space every opportunity you can so the house can be broken down into small, digestible bites.
- Buy plenty of trash bags. This goes without saying.
- Move your body, hydrate and take breaks. Your health is important and going up and down stairs 30 times within two hours may yes, be exercise, but also may
- Streamline processes. If you donate clothes for instance, to Purple Heart like I do, create a system for yourself: where are you going to put the donation, how often are they going to come, etc. And remember to include it as a tax write-off!