Confessions of a Reforming Packrat

There is nothing like moving to make me really evaluate the stuff that I consider to be worthy to be stored in my home. As I have been packing, I have tried to clean out my non-essential possessions even more than ever. This is very difficult for me, as I am the rattiest of all packrats. I keep a pretty tidy house, most of the time, so the fact that I have this disorder may come as a surprise to some.

My latest attempt at curbing my saving habits was to buy one big Rubbermaid bin to hold all of my memorabilia. If it didn’t fit in the bin, I couldn’t keep it! This forced me to get rid of tons of my school-days souvenirs, from my first grade math papers to most of my college notes and course packs. I found all sorts of things I’d forgotten about, from the nostalgic (my GT and the Halo Express tapes) to the hilarious (the notes I received in high school…you know the kind…they’re written in marker, folded in a triangle, and contain profundities like “Hey what’s up? I am sitting in Spanish right now and I am so bored!”), to the scary (school pictures from 9th grade). I think I have now sorted through the LAST box of memories, and it is all in the bin. Yes, Stephen, it is okay if I have to sit on it to get the lid to latch.

Anyway, I call myself a “reforming” packrat because I have been compulsively reading organizational magazines ever since I considered the reality of our new, slightly smaller house (I figure, if I pack the house to the gills when I move in, there is no room for a baby later on! Although I’m not pregnant, Clint, there’s nothing like the thought of little Junior to motivate me). So I’m kind of getting attached to the idea of being such an organizational maven that I never have to go through a purging project again. Here is my vision:

I will only touch mail once. Junk goes in the trash, sentimental letters go in my “save” bin, and bills go in my organized red expandable file folder.

If I happen to walk past a decorative item that no longer brings me pleasure or fulfills a practical function, I will get rid of it immediately.

I will always hang up my clothes when I am finished wearing them.

Everything that I need daily will be in a very accessible space. Everything that I need often will be barely out of my way. Things that I only need once a year will be stored in the attic or in cleverly disguised storage such as my coffee-table trunk.

If I do not enjoy wearing an item of clothing, I will give it away to charity immediately. I will not keep it, hoping that later on it will fit better, and I will not give into guilt feelings because I remember the person who gave said item to me.

I will be able to have all open cabinets in my kitchen because all of the shelves are storing my necessary items in a way that is efficient and also aesthetically pleasing.

I will view my childhood memorabilia in an objective manner. I will be considerate of my offspring who will have to sort through my belongings after I have died (since, apparently, I can’t take ANY of it with me).

That’s all for now. I don’t want to get too ambitious and set myself up for discouragement later. After all, I am reforming, not rehabilitated…yet.

13 responses to “Confessions of a Reforming Packrat

  1. As a very organized, un-packrat-type I applaud your resolutions. Those are very useful and WILL work. You’re right … if there’s too much junk there’s no room for an additional person in your life, your home, your car, etc.


  2. The boxes that I have not unpacked yet are mostly “stuff.” Obviously stuff we don’t need. Stuff we don’t really have a good place for. And stuff that I don’t want to deal with. I commend you for taking care of the stuff BEFORE you move. When we moved recently, I just figured I’d deal with the stuff later. Now, I’m thinking I’ll deal with it… NEVER!

  3. Those are all great ideas! I love organizing things, but I tend to be bad at being objective. I want to know how all your goals turn out. 🙂

  4. you need to add to your summer reading

  5. Maybe… if I put all the stuff in the room that will eventually become a baby room, then I’ll feel inspired to get rid of it then. Of course, I’d also be pregnant, so I don’t know if I’d be more emotional about things or too sore/tired to mess with it. Hmm, I should get rid of it now, huh?

  6. Lindsey,
    Those are good resolutions! I may have to write those down….

    I have at least 5 “memory boxes” lurking in my garage (and one of them IS a big Rubbermaid bin). I’m telling myself that when it gets cooler I’m going to spend a day out there and purge. I mean, really, it’s ridiculous the things I’ve saved.

    As a packrat myself, I go on cleansing sprees every once in awhile. When I do that, I have to be careful to not go overboard. For example, my last big spree was before marriage. I threw away my rock collection. That was almost 4 years ago, and I still regret it. I know it’s silly, but it’s true! Those were cool rocks!

    So I would caution you, as you gleefully organize and feel the tingle of accomplishment, don’t forget to keep the things that really matter…like rocks.

  7. Oh, see, that is my problem! I am already missing some of the things I’ve thrown away. But I figure, I’ll forget about most of it eventually.

  8. I’ll never forget my rocks….


  9. So what were they, where were they from, how many?

  10. Stephen, is that you? Posing like an anonymous blogger since only women comment??

  11. Well, if you really want to know, Mr/s. Anonymous, they fit in a shoebox. One was tiny, and in the shape of a turtle. Another was two kinds of rock, one soft, the other a hard vein through the soft. The veins looked like talons grasping the soft rock. It was cool. Then there was a sparkly one, and a big sandstone. I’ve found them in different places as I’ve travelled. I picked up several in Llano, Texas, I remember. I really don’t know what I would ever do with them, but they were cool. I liked them. God’s handiwork and all that. 🙂

    But I still have my butterfly collection!!

    You can take my rocks, but you’ll never take my butterflies!! (Spoken in a Braveheart accent, though I don’t think William Wallace would ever talk about butterflies….)

  12. Wow, 11 comments! (and now 12) The most I ever got was 13. Isn’t blogging fun?

  13. Karen, If I ever want to join these glorified female chat rooms I have no fear at leaving my name.

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