Packrat, Now Is Your Time To Shine

by Elizabeth Broadbent
Originally Published: 
Packrat, Now Is Your Time To Shine
Scary Mommy and twomeows/Getty

You know who you are. Your attic is full. You keep all the things. You hoard clothes in case you change sizes (why buy a new wardrobe each time?). You can’t bear to let go of old toys, outgrown books. You, my friend, are the person with the full set of encyclopedias and the piles of National Geographics. You keep the toilet paper rolls. You might need those milk jugs. Those flower pots could come in handy. Old boxes? You’re on it. If it arrived at your house, it probably stayed there. Some people have looked askance and made comments about the KonMari method. But you are a proud packrat.

And now, my packrat friends, now is your time to shine.

The Packrat Rules The Pandemic Art

You’re trapped in a small space, for an indefinite amount of time, with small or not-so-small children. You need help. You need amusement. You need … art supplies. And during a pandemic, all the things become possible art supplies. Those paints you bought on discount three years ago when the craft store went out of business are suddenly sent from heaven above. The toilet paper rolls become stamps. Old potato ends also become stamps. The ends of old glassware become stamps. You can stamp all the things.

You can also glitter, glitter, glitter, because you saved all that accursed glitter. It may be accursed, but it’s yours. And goddamn if you didn’t store it on a shelf. You can pour it over glue (you bought gallons of glue on sale during school supply season, didn’t you? Of course you did.). You can make sensory bottles. You can pour it into slime. You can make glitter-sand/dirt sensory bins. Oh, the magic of glitter! Only a packrat knows, and yes you’ll be finding glitter everywhere to infinity and beyond, but desperate times and all that.

Didn’t you inherit that bucket of buttons from your grandmother? Button art, bitchachos.

Remember all those old clothes? Cut out fabric scraps for collages. For doll clothes. For superhero capes. You don’t need special sewing for T-shirt fabric. It won’t unravel. Cut one-inch tabs, tie them to each other, and make enormous blankets.

Keep ’em busy. Keep ’em creating.

Packrat, You Rule The Yard

Dirt + anything = immediate fun. You can regrow plenty of vegetables using kitchen scraps. You have dirt. You have, presumably, wine glasses, unused vases, extra cups, unused mugs … the list goes on. You can even use those wine bottles you keep emptying. All those people who purged their lives? They got rid of those Things That Did Not Bring Them Joy. Well, they’re certainly bringing you joy now when your kids watch the veggies grow!

Got some old seeds? Stick ’em in the ground and see what happens. Who’s joyful now, packrat friends and neighbors?

Oh yeah, and you can paint all those sticks littering the yard, wrap them with all the yarn you swore you’d crochet into something miraculous one day, and hang shit from them. It’s called conceptual art. Maybe use some of those seashells you’ve been hoarding?

Reuse the camping equipment you haven’t touched since before you got married. Those old canoes become awesome imaginary toys, so drag ’em on out. Your kids don’t care if that old tent has some holes. Plus there’s some lightweight pots and pans in there, so you can either let them play with them in the yard, or add them to the play kitchen.

Use The Old Clothes For All The Things

You don’t want to take them to Goodwill. You never know what you’ll need them for. Bag them. Hoard them. Love them.

Cut them up for toilet paper if you run out. Cut them up for rags if you get sparse on paper towels. Better yet, cut them up, use your old canister of bleach wipes, and saturate. Now you have more bleach wipes. Make doll clothes. Make collages. Order a needle and thread and start quilting (you can do a straight stitch, right? You can totally do a straight stitch). Patch your kids’ clothes — it’s not like you can go to Target and buy more jeans, and no one cares if your kids’ clothes have patches.

You are saving the Earth. You’re also keeping busy. You are a champion packrat, friend.

Old Jugs Are Gold

Old jugs/plastic containers become all the things. Cut the tops off. They are now shovels the kids can use to dig up the backyard. Cut the tops off and poke holes in the bottom: they are now flower pots they can use to grow those aforementioned veggies. They become scoops for dog food. They can become measuring cups. You can let the littlest among you use them to scoop and dump, scoop and dump, because that’s what life is all about when you’re two years old. A packrat knows this. A packrat probably already has a stack of them in their garage.

Everything Is A Collage

If you’re a packrat, you’re down with the collage thing. Old bottle caps? Make a trash collage. Old magazines? Collage. All of the above? Found object collage. Old books? Word collage and/or fake ransom notes (if you ever want to see your iPad again …). Cut pictures from their old books, paste them to cardboard, and cut them out as nostalgia. Cut out pieces of their old baby clothes and make a collage of memories. The list goes on and on, and is limited only by your imagination and what you’ve happened to hoard.

You’ve got this, my packrat friend. You have the tools. You have the talent. Your house has been waiting for this moment, preparing, prepping for the day when it must become self-isolated and you must entertain small children on a shoestring (you have extra ones of those, right? Cat’s cradle, dude). Go forth, friends, and use what you’ve got. What brings you joy? All the things bring you joy. Trash is treasure. Old things are new. Reuse and recycle.

You are winning at stay-at-home life right now.

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