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Every time my mother-in-law has a clean out, she brings all her discarded items to me and says, ‘I don’t want these anymore but they are too good to throw out. I’m sure you can use them.’ I actually have enough of my own crap without taking hers as well.
Mrs BY, Raymond Terrace
Dear Mrs BY,
Some people are hoarders and others are declutterers but you have created a whole new hybrid: a declutterer who wants to hoard, but at your expense. I personally hate clutter. I am not big on knick-knacks or ornaments or stray children. They just gather dust. Clean lines make us feel more in control and able to deal with things. If your home is full of junk, your mind will be full of junk as well.
I know not everyone feels this way, however, and they like to hold onto things like ornaments (and children) for sentimental value. Sure, keep the kids, but do you really need that pottery hippopotamus with the chipped leg, just because Aunt Delilah gave it to you when you were five? How about the three planks of timber rotting in the backyard that are waiting to be constructed into an alfresco area complete with pergola, ornamental grapevine and fire pit? No, you are not really going to turn those broken cups into homemade candles or invite guests over for a high tea. Are you?
Next time your mother-in-law comes up with a handful of gifts, just hold your hand up in a ‘stop immediately’ signal. Tell her, up front, that if the objects are too good to throw out, she should keep them herself or take them to the recycling centre where they will be put to good use. Your politeness is not only creating a cluttered house, but is taking up valuable headspace conjuring feelings of passive aggression.