When my mom passed away in 2003, Clay and I suddenly found ourselves with two home worth of items to fit into one, tiny house. My dad remarried quickly after my mom passed away. We had been living in a small “mothers-in-law quarters” apartment behind their house so when he moved out, we simply moved into the bigger house. But when it was time to sell the house, the only thing we could find to quickly rent was only 900 square feet. We had 2 children at the time, our belongings and most of my mom’s. We were moving rather quickly and had no time to really sort through everything. So storage was a definite issue! That’s when we first looked into self storage facilities.
We did some searching in our immediate area. We had only just gotten the internet at the time so online searching was something either of us really knew how to do. We found a place near our new house and decided to box up and move as much of the larger pieces that we could. Keep in mind that at this point, I literally had two of everything. Even some baby items because my mom always kept a second set in her house for when we were there. So there were 2 highchairs, 2 baby swings, 2 playpens, 2 couches, etc. There were 3 dining sets because my mom had one in her large kitchen and one in the dining area.
When things finally settled down Clay and I sat down and made a list of everything we had, everything we needed and everything that had sentimental value.We had the intention of getting rid of most of it. There were a lot of my own things that I wanted to keep. Things that in our 4 short years of marriage, Clay and I had gotten together. I also realized that it was a lot harder, emotionally, to get rid of my mom’s belongings than I’d realized it would be. So we kept her living room suite and got rid of our mismatched set. I sold a lot of dishes and some knick-knacks in a yardsale and we condensed the baby gear down to one set of each. I still had tons. That storage building was definitely being put to good use. Fast forward to 10 years and 2 more kids later and we still have a ton of stuff! But it’s getting less and less.
We live in a bigger house than the 900 square feet box we originally rented. We don’t have the self storage building anymore but the closets and garage are now jam packed with things. Clay and I have started going through everything again and clearing out the clutter. I have a couple of tips for that, actually. These are things that are helping me right now.
1.) Make a list (or 3 or 4)
Make a list like we did in the beginning of things you need, things you want and things that have a sentimental value. Groups them into categories as you go through closets, drawers, cabinets, etc.
2.) Donate old clothes and gently used toys
I actually don’t recommend putting things on consignment when you are clearing out the clutter. For me, donating the items and being done with it is the best way to clear it out and know it’s not coming back in the house. You could always have a yard sale to earn some extra money but make sure you donate what doesn’t sell. DON’T BRING IT BACK INSIDE! Box it and toss it! If clothes don’t fit anymore, don’t hang on to them until they do. You’ll likely hold onto them for a very long time and then not want them once they do fit. So donate it. Get rid of it and move on!
3.) Box it up and label it!
Box up items that you need to keep but don’t need out all the time like small kitchen gadgets, punch bowls, etc. I recommend buying plastic totes that you can label and stack but if you’re on a tight budget ask your local grocer for empty boxes and use those. Label everything so you know exactly what is inside. Then you can stack it all up but be able to access it easily.
4.) Invest in a self storage unit.
If at the end of your list you find you still have a lot of items to store, invest in a good, secure self storage unit. Do your research to find ones with a good reputation. Store the items there until you can decide what you really want to do with them. It doesn’t have to be permanent but if it is, you will at least know that the items are safe but not cluttering up your home.
5.) Invest in storage units for your home
This is something that we are doing gradually. Storage and organization can be costly so don’t be afraid to go slow. Once you have your list of items you want to keep at home, you’re going to have to store them, right? We have built-in wire shelves in our closets already but if you don’t, that is where I suggest starting. Measure your closets and see what type of shelving will work best. Once you have your shelves installed, purchase small containers, totes or baskets to hold small items and trinkets. These can be found at stores like the Dollar Tree. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Check out my post on organizing your shower for even more storage ideas!
The one thing I learned is that at some point, you have to let go or else you’re going to be overrun with “stuff’. I had to say goodbye to a lot of my moms things but I realize now that those aren’t where the memories are. The memories will always be with me no matter what. So I’m letting go. I’m organizing my home and making it the place I want it to be. I’m showing my kids that being neat and tidy is the way to go and I’m feeling better for it!
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
What are some of your self storage solutions?
Hi! I’m Crystal Martin, a stay at home mom of 4, living in KY with my high school sweetheart husband of 20+ years. My husband and I are co-bloggers at Cinnamon Hollow where we write about homesteading, travel, beauty, our lives with our kids and pets, fun and free printables as well as the products and services that make our lives just a little bit easier – and a lot more fun!
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