Cleaning The Basement

Over the last 8+ years (since we've moved into our current home) we've been continuously acquiring things. I think it happens to most families (at least in this country) - you buy things, you have things given to you, and you get things willed to you when family members die. The stuff is nice stuff or it has emotional value - you like it and you really don't want to get rid of it, but you aren't quite sure what to do with it... So it gets 'stuck' someplace.

I remember our attic when I was a kid - it was clean and never trashy or anything, but we had tons of stuff up in the attic that hadn't come down in decades (the example that comes to mind is the 60's or 70's cardboard fake fireplace that someone must have gotten for the holidays - my parents didn't actually get rid of that until they moved when I was in college). Stuff just sat there and took up space. Of course we were 3 people living in a 3-story late-Victorian. We had lots and lots of available space in which to store acquired stuff...

Nowadays we live in a very nice rambler and, while we have plenty of room, we don't have an attic in which to park 'cool' stuff that no one ever uses. We were apparently using the basement for that.... Problem was that we weren't doing it consciously and our basement isn't really a storage area - it's a finished basement. A finished basement that we weren't able to use because we had boxes of 'important' files, workout equipment (sometimes used), extra furniture, boxes of stuff sent out by my step-mother (family history artifacts, etc.), stacks of books that we had already read or weren't going to read (or reread), old computers that I had been messing with at one point, toys from when the kids were tiny, etc.

All important stuff - none of it was ruined or dirty or gross - just things that we had acquired that we thought we'd use or keep for someone to use in the future...

That was last week.

This week we have a clean, nearly empty basement that I used yesterday morning when I was working from home. It was quiet. I liked being in the basement yesterday.

Nina and I spent nearly a week with most of our free time dedicated to packing stuff up and out of the basement (and the basement office - now also usable again!!!) It sucked going through everything - so much time that could have been spent doing anything else... But it feels great that it's largely done.

We ended up moving a bunch of the extra furniture to the cabin which we needed to furnish-out anyway, so that worked out really well (and saved us a ton of money.) We donated 10 boxes of books to a very interesting charity that sends books to Africa. The old computers (and related accessories) went to the county recycling (minus the hard drives which I'm going to destroy.) Trash went in the trash - recycling in the recycling. We ended up having a lovely bonfire with the 'important documents'. The rest of the stuff went to the Lupus Foundation and to Bridging (another cool charity).

There's still plenty of stuff in the basement and we still have hundreds of books and lots of family history items from both sides, but 80+% of what there is now gone. It's so refreshing. There's actually a feeling of emotional relief. I wish that we had taken before and after pictures (although I think I would have been embarrassed to show the before shots)...

Thank you to Nina who is the one that wanted to do this and was pushing for it for awhile - sorry it took me so long to come around.

If you are a bit of a pack-rat (I am) and have a similar situation and are looking for a way to relieve some of the mental burden of all of the stuff that you are keeping in your house - go on a purge. Get rid of what you don't need or don't really, really want. It could go to someone that could get real use out of it or it can help generate money for a worthy charity. That's a better use for something that's just taking up space in your storage room or basement and never being used!

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Alex Crittenden



I'm an Enterprise Account Executive with roughly 2 decades of experience working with growing organizations. My focus and experience is on driving sales, building strategic messaging and market positioning, and helping companies to grow. This is a personal blog and does not represent the opinions or feelings of any company that I currently work for or with.

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