Motivating family members to sort stuff for yard sales

One of the most difficult things about sorting stuff is getting family members to be involved.  My clients call me because they are ready to start the process of letting go of stuff. Often, family members are not so enthusiastic.  They need motivation.

Once I had a client who was in desperate need because her mother and father let their clutter build up so much that there were only narrow paths in the house along with a few open spaces so they could watch TV and get to the kitchen. When the father was hospitalized with a stroke, in order to come home the father needed to use a walker. The cluttered house made it impossible for him to make plans to return.  This motivated the mother to let her daughter and I clear all the clutter.

My former husband and I have collected quite a bit of stuff over the past decade.  We never have divided most of it, so I can’t just go in and get rid of things with out his permission. When he had the opportunity to take our daughter to a family reunion in California,  he knew that in order to raise enough funds we would need to have a yard sale.

So he has been motivated to sort things.  Because he has back problems and needs to lie flat for some hours during the day, we agreed that he could use this time to sort things with our daughter’s help.  I brought the boxes to sort into the bedroom, and Mahriyanna showed him the items one at a time.  They found a lot of treasure–both to keep and sell, including a camera which they needed for their trip

Another time I got permission to sort out his shed which was piled high with stuff that was given to us by a client who was going to have to throw it all away if we didn’t take the useful items.  With the help of my daughter, I took most of the things out of the shed and set them out where Robert could easily see them.  The smaller items were set in shallow boxes. I placed them at a height where he would not have to bend over so that his back would not be stressed.

Then I got a bunch of bins that we had on hand and placed them near the items. I am guessing there were about 100 separate things to look at.

Within less than half an hour, Robert had sorted through everything. As he told me what to sell, keep, and throw away, I put the goodies in various bins. Even though he had experienced exhaustion after a full day of working on preparing for his trip, he was energized because he uncovered useful tools and hardware that he needed, found lots of tools, hardware and miscellaneous to sell, and saw the possibility of having a shed that could actually be utilized effectively.

It only took me about an hour to set things out and another hour or so to help Robert sort, then put lids on the containers and get them rain proof.  To think that we have waited two years to do this!  But having incentive makes all the difference.  And having skill and experience in organizing help,  too!



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