It happens to us all. It’s a day we dread. The day when the text arrives that we were sort of expecting… but also ignoring the possibility that it might happen. The day when the text arrives from the parent saying something along the lines of ‘can I book you for a day to clear out your bedroom?’.
No, it doesn’t mean our parent(s) love us any less, it just means they don’t understand quite why our crap is still taking up space in their house when we don’t live there anymore. Sometimes it means that they would really quite like to turn our childhood room into a swimming pool/gym/cinema/something (or in my Dad’s case, a spare room… maybe he needs to dream a little bigger).
A few weeks ago, the dreaded text appeared on my phone (in the form of a WhatsApp message – my Dad is very down with the kids…). After the initial ‘what does he mean?’, ‘my flat is tiny’, ‘where is my tent going to go’, ‘I can’t even remember what’s in there’, ‘AaAaAaRgHhhhHHhhh…’ etc., I decided to pop back there on Saturday and see what I could do. 6 charity shop bags, 8+ bags of recycled/binned stuff, a couple of boxes moved to York, some presents (largely in the form of black socks) gifted to my brothers, and the odd ‘I didn’t mean you had to move EVERYTHING out’ later, and my childhood bedroom is ready to be converted into a spare room.
Here are a few tips for when you, too, receive the dreaded text:
- You don’t need the jar of wool-ends you so carefully saved a few years ago. There is actually no use for them. Sure, they could help you fix that dodgy blanket you make when you first learned to crochet, but let’s be honest, that blanket is destined for the bottom of a cupboard until the day the central heating dies, and at that point, nobody is going to mind if one or two squares are breaking free.
- Nobody needs two santa constumes. You can’t wear two at once. If you’re desperate, keep one (and the elf costume/pirate costume/fluorescent tutu).
- That bag of ripped up t-shirts? Bin it. Let’s be honest, the rag run never really was much of a success, so you’re not likely to be making another one any time soon. Ditto any of the other random odds and ends you’ve collected during a fleeting period of ‘fill your home with things you’ve made and never buy anything’ optimism.
- Colour-code your bins! Have one for bin bin, one for tip bin, one for recycle bin and one for charity shop bin. Otherwise you spend ages running round in circles trying to work out what the heck is in which bin bag.
- For every object you remove from the room, your siblings will plonk two new objects back in there. It’s one of the lesser-known laws of physics.
- Becoming an emotionless robot is useful. Otherwise you will find yourself sat in the middle of the floor, four hours later, with mascara halfway down your face, and no clearing-out done.
- If you can’t chuck something, get someone else to do it. In our case this involved a text to my godmother saying something along the lines of ‘we can’t throw this out but also don’t want it so if you don’t want it, please throw it out for us’.
- Be ruthless! Not worn it in two years? Get rid. Wrong size? A charity shop will love it. Gathered dust on a shelf for five years? Not needed. Not read it since you were twelve? Recycle it. Just get rid of pretty much anything you don’t want in your new flat/life. If you can’t be bothered to move something, it’s probably not important enough to you to keep.
- You don’t have to remove everything (hopefully). Your parent(s) might be kind and let you continue to occupy a cupboard or two. This is particularly useful for things that are bulky and you rarely use, but don’t want to chuck (photography lights, sleeping bags, that one super posh dress your Mum bought you for your Y11 prom…).
When you receive the dreaded text, book out a weekend, whack on a playlist, and attack it. At some point, we’ve all got to move out of our childhood rooms, and the less rubbish you have to move from there to your new place, the easier it will be.