On a recent visit to my mother’s house, I offered to clean out her spare room. Massive mistake!
This room, although frequently used by visitors, housed the accumulation of what seemed like a collective of my siblings’, my parents’, past pets’ and even extended family members’ belongings.
By the time I had found the 4th random Barbie leg (no Barbie attached) and the collar from the dog who died in 1995, I came to the conclusion that my mother has a psychological problem and I walked out, shutting the door on a problem that will probably only be addressed when she either moves into a nursing home or passes away, in which case, I will push a skip bin under the window and simply throw everything out!
On arriving home, I trawled the internet to find evidence that would back my theory, and provide a concrete list of things she simply has to get rid of. The list looked a little something like this:
1. Old Shoes
Foot fashion that has no partner, is incapable of keeping water/dirt/mud out (thongs and sandals excluded) or has not been fashionable since the late 80’s needs to go.
2. Old Clothes
Just like shoes, if it was fashionable before the turn of this century, toss it. Likewise for stuff you haven’t worn in over a year, anything less than a size smaller than you currently are and anything with shoulder pads.
3. Old Pillows
No no no no no! Your head harbours all kinds of oil, dirt, sweat and skin flakes that you shed all over your pillow every night. Even if you buy new pillows, don’t hold onto the old ones for the spare bed. I’m pretty sure your guest would rather sleep on a $5 job from Kmart than sleep on your second-hand head-crud receptacle. GROSS!
4. Expired makeup and empty face cream jars
How many shades of grey eyeliner do you REALLY need? Don’t keep your Mary Kay, it’s likely to burn a hole in your face, it’s that far past it’s expiration date. If you no longer put it on your face, put it in the bin. And nothing ever fits in those hand/face cream containers anyway, apart from something that can be smeared or dripped onto the carpet.
5. Too Many Wire Coat Hangers
Are you planning to fight the zombie apocalypse with shitty wire coat hangers? If yes, then by all means keep them. But at $3 for a pack of 10 plastic hangers from Kmart, your wardrobe will look less like a dry cleaners pick-up rack.
6. Old magazines and newspaper
You’re saving them because you think you’ll finally get around to reading them, or because there’s an article in there you really want to keep, or because you want to make art/craft or a 4-tiered pavlova wedding cake. That’s what Pinterest is for!
7. Old socks
You will never make sock puppets, nor will you ever find their missing mate. Chuck ’em!
8. Old paint
Chances are it’s not even the same colour as the wall you painted it with anymore. And the pong of off paint is not something you want hanging around your house. When you originally paint, save a sample in a jar for touch-ups and move on.
If the back of your pantry is more than an arms length away, chances are you haven’t seen what’s lurking in the very back for a long time. Old spices are not as aromatic as Old Spice, and can taste horrible. Same with canned food and anything in a container. If your unsure when (or if) you bought it yourself, play it safe and pop it in the bin.
10. Old Technology
Any TV that exceeds 30cm in depth dimension and anything that preceded the DVD has no place in your home. Unused box televisions are worth nothing, even if you had all the intentions of making it into some fandangle pet-bed/wine-rack-whatever, and you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who owns a VHS recorder, let alone let you watch your dodgy VHS tapes on it. Out with the old and catch up with the new, my friend.
11. Broken Toys
OK, so if you have kids, don’t throw out their toys. But if your kids moved out in 1999, chances are you don’t need that decapitated doll head or collection of Barbie legs. Anything that is broken beyond repair or just simply freaks you out is taking up valuable space so out it goes!
Last but not least…
12. Old Art Work
Yep, my first letter to Santa was pretty cute, and the picture I drew of my family at age 8 was gallery-worthy, but not every single piece of children’s art work needs to be kept forever. My mother still has a huge box of just drawings from when my sister and I were little that could’ve been a great fire-lighter for bonfire night, which shows just how much sentimentality that gesture has provided me. Keep a couple of the significant ones but hide the rest until the next time they are out of the house on bin day!
Keeping absolutely EVERYTHING is just not a feasible option anymore. People lack space to store it and time to sort it, so do yourself a favour and be a little ruthless when it comes to what you keep and what you don’t.