Packing Tips for Hoarders

We are moving. You may be surprised, but probably not as much as I am. We have been in this house for 13 years.  It’s the only house our kids remember.  While we were focused on raising said kids, we seemed to have accumulated a lot of stuff.

Just getting started on the kitchen packing

First, the good news. I have been told, and believed since I was a child, that moving was number three on the list of stressful life events, right after death of a spouse and divorce. Now, I was told this by a hoarder, so it likely was true for her.  However, according to the American Institute of Stress (yes, that’s a real thing), moving is actually number 28 on the list.  If you were feeling negative you might point out that this means there are 27 life events even more stressful than moving, which is pretty terrible to contemplate.  But I choose to tell myself that it means moving is not that bad.  Here are a few tips:

  1. If you’re up to it, just burn your house down and start over. If you like, you can run through the mental game of “what one thing would I save if my house were burning down?” and pack that. Burn the rest. If you’re really sentimental, you could pack for a 2 week vacation and then burn the rest. Call your local fire department and donate your house to their new orientee training. You are doing yourself and your community a service.
  2. Option number two: pack for the 2 week vacation and disappear. Stage your own death. You can use your own life insurance to start over.
  3. Okay, not everyone is up to number one or two. Those of you who are ninnies, read on.
  4. However long you estimate it will take you to pack, multiply it by eight.IMG_8474
  5. However many boxes you think you will need, multiply it by ten. Your closet is like the Tardis, much larger on the inside than the outside. There are actual rooms in there you haven’t explored in years. Almost nothing in them will be a “find” or cause you any amount of joy.
  6. I need to back up a little. Before you even start packing, find a good therapist and book Monday, Wednesday and Friday appointments through the move and the following three months. You will stir up emotions and memories you tried to bury in your Tardis/closet and you will need help processing them.
  7. Purge aggressively. Use these four criteria:
    1. Does it bring me actual JOY when I look at it?
    2. Do I use it all the time?
    3. If it’s not a definite yes, it’s a definite no (this ones from my friend Bob, who went from a three story home to a five room condo that always looks like a spread from Real Simple Magazine)
    4. If it’s too old or disgusting for donation, I am not allowed to keep it.
  8. Plan to purge again when you unpack. You probably have similar objects crammed into various Tardis/closets throughout your house. Let’s take sheets for example. I have sheets in about 7 different locations in my house. I thought I had purged and packed them all and then I discovered about three more stashes. They are now all in boxes that say “sheets” and I will put them all together and unpack them all in the same place when I get to the new house. This will make it easier to take inventory and get rid of the excess.IMG_8452
  9. Motivate yourself however you need to. If you feel better about purging by donating to St. Vinny and getting a tax break or by selling your stuff at a yard sale, do it. But remember, these activities will seriously slow down your packing/purging process. If they slow it to a stall, just toss the stuff.  This junk is literally ruining your life. Are you going to make enough money at a yard sale to make up for that?IMG_8482
  10. This may be the most important tip: Once you get there, to your new place both physically and mentally, the place without all the junk…Once you’ve gone through this arduous experience, the third/twenty-eighth most stressful life event, don’t ever let it happen again. Think about it every time you want to bring a new object into your house, including perishables. If you threw away boxes of half eaten, stale cereal, outdated Costco size jars of artichoke hearts (not that I had to do that), then think about every single object you bring into your new life. Think about the gifts you give – the objects you bring into other people’s lives.  Make purging a regular part of your cleaning routine. Choose a room a month to purge and make it through your whole house every year.  Good luck.

Do you have any packing tips or moving advice?  I would love to hear them!

2 thoughts on “Packing Tips for Hoarders

  1. LOL!! Well I have to say that tip number 1 & 2 sure do sound like a sure fire way to simplicity! Haha! I can’t believe moving is not one of the top five stresses of life. That being said, when you get through all of the clutter, you really do enjoy all the things you treasure. Happy packing and moving! If it gets too stressful- just refer back to option 1&2. 🔥 😉

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