A Self-Storage Fairy Tale

Once upon a time there were three bears…

Momma Bear, Poppa Bear and Gen Z Bear lived in a very small, very cluttered English cottage. When Gen Z bear left for college, Momma and Poppa turned his bedroom into a Zen/Yoga retreat and stored the contents of Gen Z’s room in the attic. They enjoyed a quiet existence, meditating and practicing Kundalini Yoga for stress relief. They loved to hibernate in this cozy space during the winter months. Gen Z bear had been a handful, and they assumed that, after college, he would get a job and move out. Ha!!!

Gen Z, to his parents dismay, did not get a job and move on with his life. He came home after graduation to ponder his life’s “meaning and purpose.” While living in the basement, he began calling his Momma and Poppa M and P (because it was “cool”). He ate all of their honey and hung out with Goldilocks (they’d been friends since she broke into the bear’s house 18 years ago). Being a “digital native,” he surrounded himself with technology and wiled away his days FaceTiming Goldi, gaming, and posting Instagram selfies performing brainless stunts – all very meaningful pursuits.

Don’t get me wrong. Momma and Poppa loved Gen Z, but they also loved a peaceful existence and a tidy home. The longer Gen Z lived at home, the messier the house became. The closets were overflowing,Gen Z’s college furniture and assorted junk were added to an already overcrowded attic, and every surface in the house was sticky because Gen Z didn’t wash his paws after snacking on honeycomb. Everytime Poppa wanted to watch Animal Planet, his fur stuck to the remote. Momma gave up cleaning because she couldn’t wade through the debris. This family would have been the perfect candidates for Hoarding: “Bearied” Alive.

Momma and Poppa were miserable. Their serenity was replaced by a chaotic, disorderly environment. Conversation was replaced with growling; They growled at each other and they growled at Gen Z, who was oblivious because he was in a gaming induced coma. To maintain their sanity, Momma and Poppa decided to start practicing yoga at the local studio. As fate would have it, the yoga studio had a bulletin board for advertisements from community businesses. Poppa noticed an ad from the local self-storage facility. He immediately checked the self-storage website on his mobile phone. This could be the solution to their clutter problem.

The minute they got home (and unstuck their paws from the door knob) Momma and Poppa checked the website further and discovered a blog to help them choose the right storage facility for their needs. Poppa called the facility that was the best fit for them and discussed his options with the manager. Momma made an inventory of all the things that they needed to put in self storage, and she decided on a climate-controlled unit to protect her fur coat and Gen Z’s extra technology paraphernalia. Poppa was thrilled to discover that this facility had vehicle storage. He would finally be able to back his car out of the garage without slamming into Gen Z’s motorcycle.

When Momma discovered that the facility sold moving and packing supplies, they headed straight over to buy enough boxes, tape, and bubble wrap to pack up the clutter. They were careful to keep the bubble wrap away from Gen Z. Popping it was one of his favorite pastimes.

Little by little, they packed and moved everything they didn’t need. They kept the “bear minimum,” keeping only what gave them joy. With all of their excess belongings moved to a clean, secure, affordable storage unit, their problem was solved. The house was clean, and the clutter was gone. It was a big job, but it was more than worth the effort to move their overflow into storage. Once again, their home is tidy and organized, conversation has replaced growling, and the motorcycle is safely stored away in its own unit…and everyone lived happily ever after…

except Gen Z, because Poppa arranged a job interview for him at the storage facility.

Good luck with that.

Self Storage Eases the Task of Swedish Death Cleaning

I’ll admit it. Swedish death cleaning sounds morbid. The first thing that comes to mind is a couple of ethereal, ghoulish figures floating around the house with a Dyson and a feather duster. Or maybe a new cleaning service: The Living Dead: We Get Rid of the Skeletons in Your Closet.

Neither of those examples is even close to the reality of Swedish death cleaning. According to Margaret Magnusson, author of the book, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, it is “the process of radically decluttering your home so your children don’t have to do it after you’ve passed away.” Personally, I think it’s a fabulous idea.

Time and again I’ve watched friends and family, while trying to deal with their own grief, have to deal with the mess and clutter left after a death. The chaos, hostility,and  bitterness that follows these events can last a very long time. Swedish death cleaning can prevent all of this ugliness. It is reflective, gentle, and considerate of everyone’s feelings. Decluttering is a kindness to everyone left behind. It is meant to help to smooth the grief process for family and friends.

When to Start the Process

It’s probably a good idea to begin this process at around age 65. At this age, unless there are extenuating circumstances, mental capacity is still good and the confusion that can accompany aging hasn’t set in.

Some people are completely on board with this concept and happy to make things easier for their children and other relatives. Then, of course, you will have the people that have difficulty dealing with any type of change or simply don’t care what happens after their own demise. Here are a few tips to get your parents or other elderly family members to “buy in” to this process. Actually, it doesn’t hurt to make it a goal for your own future.

The “Safety” Perspective

  • Mention that throw rugs, small tables, and ottomans are potential trip and fall hazards. They need to be removed.
  • Piles of books, newspapers, and magazines are not only unsightly, but a fire hazard. They need to go.
  • Items piled haphazardly on the top shelf of a closet may fall out when the door is opened, causing a head injury. They need to be sorted and reorganized.

Make it Their Idea

  • Admire a few items that you would like to have now. Many elderly people love to give

away their belongings, and they are flattered if a family member is interested enough in an object to want to own it. This may encourage them to give away even more items.

  • A piece of jewelry or another memento will be so much more meaningful if it is gifted to that special grandchild or family member while the owner is still living. A story can be shared that will create a lasting memory that is forever linked to that gift.

The Best Solution

The perfect solution for this task is a secure, affordable self-storage unit. If your parents or loved ones are having difficulty letting go of their belongings, you can involve them in making the decision to store rather than discard items. Turn this chore into a special event by asking your parents or elderly loved ones to share their favorite memories of special objects. You can record these moments, take pictures of the items, and create a memory journal. Another thing to keep in mind – there will be some bad memories, and this process enables you and your family to let go of them.

Placing these items in storage is not as final as discarding or donating them; that can be done much later. Your parents will be more relaxed knowing that they can give some thought to what they want done with their possessions. In fact, they may enjoy discovering things that they’ve forgotten about. This gives you plenty of time to consult with other family members as to what they might want.

Introducing the Swedish death cleaning concept can be difficult. It requires sensitivity and tact. But, once you’ve begun an open dialogue, you’ll find it far less traumatic than expected. Don’t be hesitant; in the end you’ll have that good feeling of knowing that you’ve done the right thing for everyone involved.

Your Storage Unit Needs a Good Spring Cleaning!

If it’s been awhile since you’ve visited your storage unit, you may be astonished to find that your home isn’t the only area that needs a thorough spring cleaning.  Your storage unit should also be on your list for a refresh and maybe some reorganization. When you made the decision to use storage, you were probably so relieved to get the stuff out of your house that you were a bit lax with labeling and organizing.  It’s easy to store your stuff, and forget about it…”out of sight, out of mind.” Well, they may be out of sight, but your belongings are still there, right where you left them.

Now that you’ve finally made up your mind to get this job done, keep it from becoming an overwhelming task. Here are a few tips to get your started (and hopefully, finished!)

  • Set a Deadline:  Pick a date, and stick to it.  This is kind of like making an appointment with yourself that you must keep and will help you to get motivated.
  • Invite Friends:  When other people have committed to help you, you’ll be that much more likely to be committed yourself.
  • Remove Everything:  Take everything out of your unit so that you can sweep and clean before re-organizing your space.  Chances are that everything will be dusty and may need to be re-positioned. It’s a good idea to refold stored textiles and linens to prevent creases from forming.
  • Start by Opening Boxes:  People generally lose track of the items they’ve stored.  If you haven’t visited your unit in a long time, you may be pleasantly surprised to find some family heirlooms or possessions you thought you’d lost.
  • Keep, Discard, Donate:  Go through the same process that you did when you decided what to store.  As you open your boxes and sort your belongings make “keep, discard, donate” piles.  If you haven’t retrieved something in more than a year, it’s probable that you’ll never need or use it. Maybe one of your helpers could use some of these items.
  • Consolidate:  Free up storage by consolidating.  There will be items that you never use but just can’t part with. Try to combine them in the same boxes and keep them in the back of the unit.
  • The “Wait and See Box:”  For those items that you not sure about, use a “wait and see box.”  You can review this box during your next spring cleaning; and, if you haven’t used these things in the past year, discard or donate them.
  • Label and Redistribute Weight: When you’ve finished re-packing, be sure to distribute weight evenly, with heavier items on the bottom.  Clearly label everything to make the next cleaning easier.
  • Reorganize With a Plan:  Create a written map or drawing of the unit to indicate where items can be found.  Items can be grouped in any way that is appropriate for your life. For example, you can group by person, room, or importance. Leave this plan on a clipboard hanging on the wall of your space for easy reference.  Store belongings that you don’t use regularly in the back of the unit. Save the front space for things you use more often and for seasonal items. Be sure that unused space in dresser drawers, cabinets, or freezers is filled with belongings.  If possible, leave aisles with room to move around and see all box labels. If you’re super organized, take photos with your phone so that you can check to see what’s in your space prior to making a trip.

The most important thing to take with you to your unit is a positive mindset.  Focus on the feeling of relief that comes from a good cleaning and reorganization.  Visualize yourself walking away with the knowledge of a job well done and a task crossed off your list.

If you don’t have a storage unit, and you need one for all of your extra stuff, check out our Choosing the Right Self-Storage Facility blog. You won’t have to clean it until next year!



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