Monday, June 9, 2008

The Packrat Syndrome!

How to Survive Living With a Packrat

Packrats are also desperate to keep track of each and every item they've safely stored away for that potential future need. Clueless family members often don't even recognize these items as being salvage-worthy. It's hard to forget the impending doom that fills the house when the resident packrat asks, "Where's that (fill in the blank) that I was saving?" So, do you call the exterminator if there's a packrat living among you? Try these humane solutions instead.

1. Remember the Principle of My Space, Your Space, and Our Space. Everyone living in the home needs somewhere safe to store special belongings. Acknowledge your packrat's need to hoard and set aside an out-of-the-way spot to hold his pile, but protect your home's shared and common areas from growing clutter.

2. Contain the collection properly. Use sturdy boxes, all the same size, with lids. Purchase cardboard banker boxes from an office supply store, or use empty copy paper boxes. Plastic storage boxes with lids will also work (note: clothes might smell funny if kept enclosed in plastic boxes). They should be large enough to hold bulky items but small enough to lift when full. If they're all of similar size, they will easily stack in a closet, garage, or attic.

3. Label each box--the lid and all four sides--with a large, readable number; use a heavy black magic marker or stickers. Begin with one and continue consecutively as you add more boxes. Develop a coding system to distinguish certain boxes; for example, Christmas decorations could be kept in boxes C-1, C-2, C-3, and so on.

4. Record the contents and storage location of each box and file this list somewhere safe and convenient. This keeps your boxes neat, without scribbles of what's inside that are later scratched out. Also, you have an accessible inventory of your "warehoused" items. If you're building a Family Notebook, print off a Storage Inventory form. Or, you could use a separate index card per box number. Update your records as the contents change.

5. The next time your packrat wants to know what happened to his (whatever), check your records and direct him to the appropriate storage area and box.

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