Treasured Possessions and the WAR on clutter

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I Must Confess treasured possessions


If your house was on fire and you only had five minutes to grab your most treasured possessions, what would you take with you? Or more importantly… If lost forever, what would you miss the most?


Treasured Possesions and the WAR on clutter


I must confess, I’m probably going to tick more than a few people off this week, when I refer to my hubby of almost 20 years as my most treasured possession with my three girls (14, 15 & 17) following closely behind. I appreciate that people aren’t possessions but the way I see it, if our entire house was about to go up in flames, my little family are really the only things I would want to save. I don’t care about the rest.


Strange given how bloody crammed full of ‘stuff’ our house is at the moment and I’m battling to approach a major declutter. I just can’t seem to let go of anything at the moment. I strongly suspect I know why and this blog post might be verging on a therapy session.


{Consider yourself warned and feel free to run to the bottom of the post NOW for this week’s blog post highlights}


We’ve had 22 moves but most have been at short notice and funded by hubby’s work, so there was no great need to scale back or discard at the time. The moving at short notice and lack of time factor limited this side of things as well, although I’ve never been great when it comes to culling or decluttering my own things. Put me in charge of someone else’s stuff and I’m like a lean and mean fighting machine. Everything must go.


I wouldn’t call myself a hoarder but you only have to look at my full to overflowing chaotic wardrobe to appreciate that I have trouble letting go of things, especially items that hold sentimental value and it would take a house fire, natural disaster or prompt from Kirsty (My Home Truths) for I Must Confess, to get my priorities in order.


While my girls have only had a handful of moves, it has still impacted them in a big way. Each time we’ve upped and moved they’ve lost friends and felt the need to hold onto as many possessions as they can. I get it. I wonder if I haven’t done exactly the same thing.


Facebook has made the 4000 km plus move across the country easier to keep in touch with family and friends this time round but it’s still not the same. There is always that sense of loss, so we hold on tightly to stuff that reminds us of the past.


For the most part, the majority of our ‘stuff’ has a place and you could almost say it’s organised chaos but the thing is, lately it hasn’t been so organised and the stuff has been causing more chaos than it should. I’m also busier than I’ve ever been {blogged here} and need to be as organised as possible.


The lack of organisation, especially where the rest of the family is concerned, means I’m constantly needing to go on long winded search and rescue missions. It’s always been like this with hubby who has a tendency to leave things in odd places and need to retrace his steps (with help) to find them.


Frustratingly, two out of three of our girls are starting to follow in his long winded foot steps. I seem to have an incredible knack for eventually finding the lost items (although our odd sock pile would scream otherwise) but it’s not a badge I wear with pride, more frustration and time poor rage these days.


For me, there’s only one way forward here and that’s to have a major declutter.


I’m not wanting to join a movement or start a challenge and over complicate the already over complicated. I’m needing to get back to basics and that means getting back to my old super organised self where everything has a place and everything at the end of the day, is generally in place.


When the time comes for spring cleaning, it will hopefully mean more time for actual spring cleaning and not sorting through the ever increasing clutter and chaos. I also believe in order to move forward, learn from my past mistakes and approach this with more gusto than ever before, I need to look back briefly.


The What, Where and Why factor




My family life as I knew it, fell apart at the seams with the divorce of my parents when I was a teen. At the time, possessions were divided up and there was more than a few arguments about who owned what after a 22 year marriage. I believe even after all these years (over 25) slides are still an ongoing issue in terms of custody. Funnily enough there were no real custody issue in regards to my three younger siblings or myself.


Anyone that knows the history, could argue that the divorce needed to happen and probably should have happened much sooner, at the time I felt like I lost everything. The little possessions I had accumulated to this point became a little too important to me. They accompanied me and were added to, as I constantly relocated, which was possibly more a case of me clinging to a reminder that all was not lost. I had my possessions, three large packing boxes full of stuff.


Possessions that over time, really held no place in my every day life but I felt the need to keep close to me, usually stored in an attic or a garage. Only for a flood to hit our house just prior to moving to Perth and I lost the lot. Insurance didn’t come into play because you can’t really put a price on sentimental items. Can you?


The flood was a bit of a slap to the face with an important lesson to learn. From that point on, I’ve never kept valuables or sentimental items in storage or behind a display cabinet. Like the good china that was gifted for our wedding. Pieces that would only come out on special occasions, are now used on a regular basis. Just because life is too short not to.


I couldn’t really bring myself to sort through the flooded mess and for the life of me can no longer recall exactly what was lost in those three huge mystery boxes as they headed to the dump. I had my own little family now, new joint possessions acquired after our marriage and I was looking to the future.


Only the future involved finding a workable and less nagging approach that didn’t involve the whole house being a nervous wreck and catering to my OCD ways. Ways that only really developed after living briefly with an OCD and verbally abusive step-father. I believe I always had these tendencies, this just put them into OCD overdrive.


Thankfully, I’m mindful of all this and my OCD ways have lessoned since having children. They really needed to but even still, everything generally has a place in my house or it has to go. Something not so easy to keep on top of when you have a family. Especially a hubby that likes to have numerous dumping grounds for his possessions around the house.


If he takes his shoes off in the hall or next to the bed, that is where they will stay, unless I put them away, nag him or until the next time he wears them. All of our three teen girls, left to their own devices would opt to do much the same. I blame my over the top OCD ways for much of this. I don’t blame them.


I work mainly from home, so keeping things as orderly as possible on the home front means when I’m working I can concentrate on my work. I honestly work more efficiently when everything in front of me is in order.


I tend to start my day with a walk to clear my head and then a round of groundhog day housework. It generally involves tidying up (to my standard) after everyone has tidied up (to their standard) and dealing with what feels like 400ish items of clutter (100ish per person) before I can start my day. It’s exhausting and endless but no one sees clutter as I do and no one is affected by it as much as I am. So I own it.


At the beginning of the year, I decided to once again try a new and relaxed fun mum approach to scatter and clutter. It was a case of putting the blinkers on, especially in terms of the girls’ bedrooms. It’s taken me six months, much self induced stress and too many search and rescue missions for lost items (never my own) to realise clutter and mess really does my head in and makes me miserable.


I’m a much happier and fun, if not organised mum if the house is in some sort of order. If that initially makes the rest of the house miserable while I find a workable way forward. So be it.



What and Where?!


Deciding on what should go in terms of scatter and clutter is the first hurdle. Deciding where it should go comes next and is probably the biggest hurdle or obstacle. Perhaps looking at what to keep is a better way forward?


If we ever manage to sell our NSW property (fingers crossed it happens soon), it will hopefully mean building our dream home here in Perth. It will also mean a fresh start. Probably not in terms of furniture but it terms of minimisation. I refuse to take the clutter with me. I don’t really care who owns it but I’m sick of it taking up valuable space and energy. I’m reminded of this, each and every time we holiday in an apartment that holds just the basics.


I no longer want to wait to get this side of things in order. This school holidays much to my girls’ horror, I’ve declared a war on clutter and scatter. If it has no place and creates work, it has to GO.


But where do you start in the war on clutter and more importantly where do you stop?! Even non sentimental items hold value. Having spent a decent amount of money on an item, can almost make you feel like you are throwing money away or down the drain if you discard it.


There is the option of selling rather than giving away to charity to recoup some of the losses but it’s hard to put a realistic price on something you’ve owned and loved. The process of selling can be exhausting. It takes time and time in my books is money and another obstacle stopping me from getting on with things. Perhaps, it is better to just ‘Let it Go…??’ and by that I mean let it all go to the bin or to charity. Just keep the essentials…. but what does that really mean and what’s the best way forward for everyone in my family?


You tell me???


How do you handle scatter and clutter in your house?

Do you have a family member that likes to hoard?

Would you attempt to sell the more valuable items rather than donate or discard?

How do you put a value on something you’ve owned and loved for years?

If your house was on fire and you only had five minutes to grab your most treasured possessions, what would you take with you?


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  1. Having just moved house we had what I thought was a decent de clutter. However our new garage is packed to the rafters with stuff we don’t use and possibly don’t need either. And don’t get me started on my shoe and handbag hoarding….

  2. Ahh yes decluttering!! It was eight years ago that we moved to this house after having lived in our previous house for 17 years! We had a garage sale then hired a massive skip and had a huge clean out. It was so refreshing! We are due for another clean out now! How awful that a flood saw you lose so many items that were special to you! I must admit that I still hold on to some silly things – a diary from when I was at high school, newspaper articles that I’ve been in, love letters from old boyfriends, awards and badges from school days + more! I have loads of drawers cluttered with this kind of stuff. i really need to go through them!!

  3. The only thing I really hoard is books. I’m okay with that. We live in a very small house so it doesn’t take much to get cluttered. I’m always struggling with it, so I have no answers. Occasionally I have a clear out and arrange a council pick-up. I agree with you, I’d only want to save my family in the event of a fire. The rest is just ‘stuff’. Hope you find the best way to de-clutter that works for you. xo

  4. I’m pretty sentimental and have a couple of contained hoards in storage boxes and a suitcase under the spare room bed which I did go through and cull when we moved house last year. I find it difficult to let go of some things and it took me until this long to list my daughter’s baby clothes on Gumtree. Awkwardly, I had to then contact the purchaser and ask if she wouldn’t mind awfully if I got a certain wrap back that we brought her home from the hospital in as it kept me awake that night not having it! Having gone from a squeezy small house into a sprawling large house has given us the “luxury” of being able to hold on to a lot of stuff but it’s time we tackled the pile and moved on.

    Oh, and I actually had the opportunity to pick things to save from the house when a bushfire was close enough to our doorstep to think about it earlier this year; I packed a plastic storage container with my back-up hard drive, Miss L’s baby box and our important documents folder and took her into town for the day with instructions to the husband if there was any kind of emergency to go for the photo albums and memory box under the spare bed if possible.

  5. Gosh you write s good story .. You are always so open and honest… Oh and make me laugh too…

  6. 22 moves! Holy moly! You must be a pro by now. Yep totally agree – family is the most important ‘thing’. What an incredibly honest post. xx

    • Yes, I can pack our house up and be ready to move in under 4 days. Although, we’ve been here over 5 years, the longest in any one place, so I’m out of practice.

      Possibly a little too honest and verging on over sharing this week. Next week, it will be back to light and fluffy.

  7. Hubster is the hoarder and I am the neat freak. Mr 21 takes after me, and Miss 18 after her dad in this regard; it is amazing how much tidier the house stays now Miss 18 has moved out! I have very few photos or possessions from my childhood; being the eldest, toys etc were passed down to the younger kids; a messy divorce when I was 10, and my Mum doing things like burning her wedding dress; and then being estranged from Mum for many years means that the few items I do have, I really do treasure.

    We moved into a tiny old cottage about 10 years ago, and stored a lot of things “under the house”. Just goes to show it wasn’t that important – when we moved out 5 years later, the house was demolished, including all the things we had left underneath – after 5 years we figured if we hadn’t taken it out of storage yet, we didn’t need it! Also it wasn’t wasteful as it too had been flooded so things there weren’t worth keeping or donating … my goodness this is a long winded reply! xxx

    • A long winded post justifies a long winded reply. Hubby still has shirts from before we met. They no longer fit, they were never really fashionable and I’m clueless as to know why I can’t throw them. Of course, he then points out that I have 95% of our shared wardrobe and I should start on my end. lol

      Compared to most, it really isn’t that bad, I just have high standards.

  8. I hold onto so much stuff because dad left so suddenly and when he died my aunty {who we never spoke to} came and took all of our possessions from the house before even calling the ambulance to let them know she’d found my dad dead in the house. Ever since then I need to hold onto everything just in case. T is the opposite, he grew up moving a lot between his dad, his mum, grandparents and other houses and so he places pretty much no value on stuff and would be happy having hardly anything because he’s used to everything being taken away from him. He calls me a hoarder all the time even though I’m nowhere near being a hoarder, but to him I am. Having said that if there was a fire I’d grab bub, make sure T was out and the cats and that’s probably about it.

    • It’s funny how loss can impact us differently. I suppose I’m much like you, needing to hold on to things having already lost so much.

      I can’t believe I completely forgot to mention our newly adopted ragdoll cat in the above list. He only decided to adopt us officially recently but he is definitely a member of my little family now. He is also the loudest and most demanding in the family, so I can’t believe he wasn’t first on my must save list.

  9. I’m with you Raychael – I’d grab family and forget everything else. This post is perfectly timed because I’m trying to clear out some clutter too. Very hard to do but I’m giving it a good shake. Here’s hoping we can both come through the other side with a little more room to move!

    • I hope so too Tonia. Funnily I was thinking about you and your blog with this week’s treasured possessions prompt. I’m very close to organising a skip bin and throwing the lot. There was a TV show once, not that I watch TV but it was basically a show that threw your life on the lawn and you had to decide what you kept and the rest was thrown in a massive garbage disposal. Some was donated as well but there was someone to hold your hand and whip you into some kind of shape. I may need that kind of help.

  10. How do you handle scatter and clutter in your house? – I haven’t really handled it properly yet. Once our renovations are finished I will be doing a huge declutter and I think I’ll stick to the rule that if it doesn’t have any lovely memories attached it’s getting donated, thrown or sold.

    Do you have a family member that likes to hoard? – I wouldn’t say ‘hoard’ but I find it hard to get rid of things.

    Would you attempt to sell the more valuable items rather than donate or discard? I would rather donate.

    How do you put a value on something you’ve owned and loved for years? – You can’t put value on it. If it holds very sentimental memories for me, I probably couldn’t get rid of it, if not I would put a value on it and get rid of it.

    If your house was on fire and you only had five minutes to grab your most treasured possessions, what would you take with you? Apart from my husband and son, it would be my computer and external hardrives with our photos and videos.

    • I lost my computer hard drive last year and far too many photos because I hadn’t backed up or copied to external hard drives in months. A huge reminder that I need to schedule backups more often.

      How are you finding renovations Eva? I bet you will be glad when they are over.

  11. I wish you well with the war on clutter – I’m having my own war around here at the moment. I have to admit that I normally donate rather than sell my unwanted items, mainly because I can’t be bothered with all the rigmarole of taking photos and haggling with people. I’m lazy like that…

    • I don’t think I can be bothered selling either. I use to have an online consignment store back before eBay was on the scene. Ebay kind of ruined that side of things for me.

  12. I had a bag of special things (not overly valuable, just special) that was accidentally chucked out when I moved last.I miss that stuff. But I can live without it. I am not a hoarder, and I like everything to be in a place. Kids certainly relaxes those thoughts because they manage to make a mess without even trying. I just have to be relaxed about it, or I would drive myself nuts trying to keep up. Reminds me I need to put all my photos on to a usb drive, it’s much easier to grab in an emergency.

  13. Oh we’re in need of a MAJOR declutter, I seriously don’t know where all the stuff comes from! We moved last year and had a big clear out, but we seem to have reaccumulated a new stockpile of crap!

    • I think the constant moving has helped keep me in check and the fact we’ve been here for five years, the longest in any one place, hasn’t helped.

  14. interesting raych!
    I have a similar theory! … save our lives before possessions!
    I might grab a couple of my paintings
    and my art journals but things are all over the house, so it would be hard to gather them up, as they are in various states of progress and process!
    I have too much stuff and need to clear, but, they might be needed for an installation or something! … concepts allow me to be very random and fussy at the same time! … too complex! i’ll keep them until I’m forced to toss out! … love m:)X

    • I’m reminded of my aunt who was a bit of a hoarder. She eventually managed to get the courage up to have a huge throw out. Starting with her 1960s/70s wardrobe, only for all those platform heels and furs to come back into fashion.

  15. Oh this is constantly on my TO DO list but I get too caught up doing the day to day tidying and piles of stuff get shuffled around, waiting for me to sort through so I can chuck/sell/donate.
    I’d love 2 weeks of good hard decluttering! Might start with a few size 8 mini dresses that I won’t be wearing again any time soon. 😉

  16. The moving would have helped keep things uncluttered. I find out place gets pretty cluttered, usually when one or the other of us has pulled out stuff we want to use. It has more to do with how small it is and the fact that we don’t have a shed so the shed is inside.

  17. I’ve done declutters on and off over the years but still seem to have a fair bit of clutter around the house. Some of it is hidden clutter, such as the kids toy box. This week I emptied 6 bags of toys from the toy box to either donate or pass onto my sisters younger kids. I do find decluttering very therapeutic – I’m a bit strange like that!

  18. My parents (now just my mum) has lived in the same house for 50 years and she has shitloads of clutter and all sorts of crap. I move regularly and hate packing so have done a pretty good job of culling with each move. Mostly it’s small stuff and I keep bins handy. In the stress of the move I’m pretty savage so don’t ponder too much. If I haven’t used it in months or can live without it, it goes. My last move involved a significant downsize so I also had to leave furniture behind. That was a bit sad but also necessary.

    PS. I know what you mean about possessions and family. In 1997 I was in Cambodia when there was a coup and in the lead up there was fighting and bombs going off one night so I packed quickly in case my apartment was hit / I needed to leave the country and all I really grabbed were photos of my niece (off the walls) and my money and passport.

  19. I suppose trying to sell the house and hoping that we might have one more move in us, has prompted me to also look at the clutter with new eyes. I have my eye on the big picture which is our dream house. It’s not going to be a huge house, so I’m not wanting to take everything we’ve accumulated over the years with us.

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