If you know me, you know I aim to put the personal storage unit business out of business. Why? Because if we’re truly honoring our memories and using our possessions, there’s no real reason to store anything other than our home decorations for the holidays and a few off season items.
Often people use storage units because their lack of space starts to affect their personal lives. But is that effective? Is stuffing items in another space actually dealing with them, or are we just putting off decisions to deal with later, or worse, for someone else to deal with when the time arrives? It can become a vicious circle and add yet another expense to a sometimes already tight budget, by paying to store things we’re not using. In short, our things become an albatross.
So, what should be in your home storage (i.e. inside your house, not a storage unit)? Decorations for your home for the various seasons is the most found item in home storage, followed by off-season clothes, items we no longer use, and things that belong to our children as they’re growing.
- Home decorations: We all have them: Christmas trees, lights, decorations, Halloween decorations, Easter decorations, decorations for 4th of July….These are items we use just once a year. If you’re like most people you go digging for your decorations, and forgetting what you already own, you go purchase more as the seasonal sales appear, then wind up having purchased what you already own.
How do you fix it? A few easy steps: 1) Store items in CLEAR plastic containers, so you can see what you have. 2) Clearly label each container, and include a list of what you need for the following year as you pack it away each season. (I do this on my cell phone calendar under tasks for that month. Then, when the time comes, I’m reminded of what I need to purchase.) 3) As you store the containers, arrang them in chronological order, rotating them as you put them away so that the upcoming holiday is always accessible. Label the containers on the side that is visible, so it’s clearly identifiable.
- Off season clothes: If you follow my Facebook page, you know my rules for closets. Ideally, all seasons of hanging clothes would fit in your closet, but we all have items we fold and store, like shorts or sweaters. Before storing clothes, be sure you have purged anything you haven’t worn for the last two years or items that are too small or too large. (If you lose weight and need a smaller size, you know you’ll want to celebrate by shopping! Why keep things that are too big? That’s not the direction you want go right? Get rid of them and vow to stay in your current size or smaller.) Also make note of any essential pieces that need replacing. Again, I keep this list on my phone so when I’m shopping I can keep my eye out for things I need.
Be careful when storing clothes. If the area has any dampness, you want to avoid cardboard boxes. If there’s a possibility of moths, be sure to place cedar or mothballs in with the clothing to deter bugs. Again, I prefer either clear plastic containers, clearly marked, or those collapsible storage bags sometimes work, although I find they often don’t remain collapsed after multiple uses.
- Children’s keepsakes: This is always a tough, emotional topic for parents. If your children are still young (under the age of 23), then you’re going to have some keepsakes. However, if your children are grown and on their own, then it’s time to send their keepsakes with them. You are not your children’s personal archivist! When doing this, make sure they take the keepsakes with them to their space to rummage through. If they go through them at your house, two things will happen: you’ll wind up keeping at least some and the boxes will not go home with them. Here’s the thing: what was important to us as parents may not be important to your child. When my son (now 20) and I went through keepsakes after my husband’s death, it was difficult to realize that he didn’t see any reason to keep the paper where he wrote his name for the first time. It was an important memory for me, but to him it was just a piece of paper. I had to follow my own rules and let him go through his stack of school papers himself and keep the ones he thought were important.
If you’re the child on the receiving end of these keepsakes, then be sure that you honor whatever you choose to keep. I still have some papers and artwork of my own from my school days, and I have them stored in one of my favorite folders from grade school. It’s nice to go back and visit them. Just remember, shoving them in a box in storage and visiting them every five to ten years or whenever you move is not honoring your memories.
Storage areas are for storing items we’re not using right now, with the understanding that we will use them within the year. It’s important to step back and take an objective view of our belongings and be willing to let things go to be used by someone who can use them, rather than just taking up space.
And of course, if you need help organizing your home storage space or emptying a storage shed, call Managed Chaos, LLC!