Critter Corner: Helping Mamma Get Rid of Stuff

Dear Oakley,

When my mom was doing her estate planning, she realized how much stuff she has that has no monetary value, but lots of sentimental value to her. Upon speaking with her children and grandchildren, she realized that no one really wants all that stuff. What are some tips to help her get rid of stuff and still feel good about things?

Thanks,

Wei Tumuch

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Dear Wei,

A lot of people are in similar situations. We accumulate a lot over the years, and there comes a time to keep certain things and part with others.

Make a list of “Must-Keep” things

She should start by making a list of the things that she considers to be most important and worth holding on to. If she doesn’t see an item on the list, she might be able to get rid of it more easily knowing that she’s already decided this isn’t something worth holding on to or cluttering her life with.

Letting go

The hardest step is getting ready to let go, so when it comes to downsizing her stuff, starting with a small project will actually make her feel lighter and may propel her into tackling the bigger projects.

When evaluating and reevaluating things, she should consider these three questions to help her decide what to keep and what to part with:

  1. Do I really need it?
  2. Can I easily replace it?
  3. If I’m not using it now, will I want it in five or 10 years?

Expert organizers say that if you haven’t used something, get rid of it. If you can replace it in under 20 minutes for under 20 dollars, there probably won’t be much regret if you toss it.

Will I Ever Use it Again?

People often become preoccupied with items they have in storage and worry that they’re going to want to use them again.

The best thing to do is to set some simple ground rules, like “I’m going to throw out all magazines that are 6 months old,” or “I’m going to throw out every blurry photograph.”

Some more pro tips:

  • If you can’t get rid of stuff, consider asking for assistance. Have a friend or a professional organizer hold the items up for you. That way, it’s easier to let go.
  • For important photos, take pictures of them and tell a story at the same time using the Legacy Stories app that we provide free to all of our clients and readers.
  • For family heirlooms, keep what’s precious. But if no one in the family is going to ultimately want to possess the actual item, take a photo of the item and tell a story at the same time using the Legacy Stories app. Or take a video with you holding the item and telling your story about it and send it to your whole family.
  • For other trinkets and small items, pick just a very few that have the most meaning and get rid of the rest. Those few things will likely have much more value for her.
  • Rather than discarding your old possessions in the garbage, where they will eventually end up in a landfill, she can find a new owner for many of her things. Buy Nothing or Freecycle groups are awesome for giving away nice items that other people can use, or she should consider donating to Goodwill, Salvation Army, or local clothing drives or charities.
  • Listen to Marie Kondo’s mantra: “When we own less stuff, we are happier.” Her methods emphasize only keeping things which give you joy.

Getting rid of stuff is a chance for your mother to celebrate the items that really matter to her, while saying goodbye to those that have run their course. I wish you luck in helping your mom to get rid of stuff and I hope she enjoys the extra space and clutter-free living.

Best,

Oakley

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