Drowning in stuff!(20 Posts)
I really need some tips on how to tackle my situation. Basically, following my parents' deaths, I have inherited boxes and boxes full of 'stuff' - photos, diaries, ornaments, old uniforms, pictures, jewellery, old cameras, etc etc. We also have loads of stuff from my MIL's house as she is now in a care home. I wasn't emotionally ready to deal with it before but it's got to the stage where I need to sort through and get rid of some of it. I just don't know where to start. My mum and dad seemed to have kept everything and it doesn't feel right to get rid of it and yet I just cannot keep it all. There are 100's of photos - many of views of places I have no idea of or people I don't know.
I need a system to help me tackle it all. Any advice would be welcomed.
I'm sorry for your losses OP. I think with someone else's possessions you don't necessarily understand the significance of things so there's a fear you'll throw things away then realise you should have kept them for whatever reason.
I would start with things like the ornaments and anything you personally don't like and are happy to get rid of then maybe see if it has any value and can be sold. Use the proceeds of sale to buy something for you which will remind you of them or to do home improvements, etc.
For things like the photos, maybe go through X wallets of photos or albums a week and see if you think there is anything significant or you'd like to keep or indeed anyone else in your family might like. You can always just keep the negatives of old photos and label the envelopes you put them in with what the contents are.
You could always put together an album/scrapbook of family history and memories.
Good luck with it all.
I would leave photos and anything similarly irreplaceable/emotionally-charged till last. Start with the more mundane items. For example, are the old cameras themselves particularly sentimental to you? If not, donate them to a charity you love. Oxfam (and presumably others) will give you giftaid stickers and then every once in a while you get a letter from them telling you how much money the sale of your gifts has raised. It's a lovely thing, and might make you feel better about letting go of your family's things. Once you have worked your way through the less sentimental items you will be more ready to make decisions about photos etc.
That must be very hard.
I honestly don't know but I do remember my parents having similar issues.
You say "I just cannot keep it all." Of course you can't. You have one house, not 3, and homes are for living in, not storing other people's things, even loved ones.
Would it help to think of it as choosing what to keep, rather than choosing what to get rid of?
Also how about putting together a memory box (or two) for each loved one? So distil out the piles into a few choice items that encapsulate the memories. With these set up, everything else can go because it doesn't add much, and worse, it's a barrier to you finding the most precious things. Much as you'd put a couple of favourite sleepsuits and a favourite rattle in a baby's memory box, which would free you up to get rid of the other sleepsuits and chewed random toys. Don't keep 20 ornaments, keep one or two favourites.
The Kondo idea of holding each item is really helpful, I think. Sometimes just holding it again is enough and you'll feel able to let it go.
Thank you all. There are some helpful suggestions here. Good idea to start with the mundane, not so personal stuff first. I need to be able to see the wood from the trees before I can start thinking a bit more clearly.
Cressandra - I love the idea of a memory box!
One more thought: you can do it in stages. Think of the box as a work in progress. You don't have to find the BEST photo before you put it in. Just get started and use the box (or whatever) to hold the "best found so far". Replace as more poignant or memorable things turn up in your sorting. By the end you'll have just the most precious things.
Perfect Cressandra - I think the work in progress box can work on all levels for photos, ornaments anything. Genius idea Thanks again.
Sorry for your losses. A suggestion for the photos, scan them all in and save them electronically, then a majority of the originals can go. Obviously keep those you like for framing etc. You can reprint photos from the scanned copies if you later on feel like it was a mistake or you later realise the significance of a photo etc xx
Sympathy. Dh is doing the same - has just cleared his mum's house after she has gone in a home. She was a hoarder so there was tons of stuff to clear.
There are companies that will scan in a whole load of photos for you. We did that with a load of family photos and it was great.
sorry for your loss.
cameras; most are worth almost nothing, even the accordion ones are only any use as bookends. I've just been getting rid of a similar collection and what I find is 70s or later goes to the tip, 50s with a known make goes for a fiver on ebay. If you can wait until carboot season that can help.
photos; gosh, it's difficult. I second the scanning suggestion.
old uniforms; possibly contact the organisations concerned to see if there is any historical interest?
jewellery; unless you have some real value, it goes for scrap, sadly. Ask around for a reputable dealer nearby.
hope this is of some help.
Cameras - donate to the local college/uni that does photography. That's how I got rid of a load of old photography books and magazines. Esp if they still do processing and printing.
My mum was convinced that a lot of her possessions were worth something (and that's why she crammed so much into her tiny one-bedder). When it came to clearing it out though no-one wanted to offer any money for any of it. So we took those items that were sentimental to us and left the rest to be cleared by the professionals. Have finally started going through all the papers and photos none of my brothers wanted. Have thrown lots and reduced it to a pile that I will scan. Then I'll get rid of the paper. Probably 20% of the photos mean nothing to me, but maybe someone will appreciate them in the future.
Do u no the photos can be put onto a disk hun.this way u can store a few but put the rest safely onto a cd drive.we did this then grandchildren put them on a fire to float up and be with them once again.
There's also photobox etc where u could crate next years calendar with a few.and their photobooks can feature thousands.u could then have a huge book fr reach of them. The story of them so speak
In doing the books u cud perhaps take photos of their ornaments etc to go in.write funny notes to go alongside
Thank you for your the brilliant ideas you've given me. I will ask my local photo shop about scanning.
Kateandme - I cried when I read your post about setting fire to the photos so they could be with them again - that is so what my mum and dad would approve of.
I wish I had my sister to help me sort through it all but she also died (2 years ago). Lost them all over the space of 7 years!!
Sorry, just had a few wines and feeling sorry for myself!
A friend of mine recently had to do this. She disposed of a lot of photographs on the basis that they weren't her memories. After all, we take photos so that we can look back and remember the holiday or occasion or whatever. For others there's no such memory to hold on to. Made sense to me. Good luck.
Konmari method could help - not quite the same, because it's not your stuff but you could adapt the principles.
Mundane things first. Sort into categories e.g. all clothing, all frames, all crockery, all ornaments, etc. Anything which is difficult because it's sentimental, put it all together to be looked at last.
Out of each category look at which things you like and want to keep and then decide what to do with the other things - throw away, sell, offer to other relatives, charity shop (local museum, if applicable). etc.
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