If you are in that time of life where you have grown children and you know that downsizing is in the near future, then you will want to pay close attention to some tips that will not only help you, but also your children. It is a sad situation when the elderly wait too long to go through the things in their own house.
When this happens, there is usually a family member or a hired professional to sift through all their belongings trying to make the best decisions for all the stuff that was left. The real truth is that within every home there are things that are personal and significant. That is the reason we held onto them. What may seem like junk to others has a story behind it and unless we pass that story on to those who will one day be cleaning out our home for us, it will more than likely end up in a yard sale or a dumpster.
That is why it is important to tell the story to your kids…
Give them the opportunity to have the items if they want them, or at least document who gets those items after you are no longer in your house. Everyone deserves to know about the family history of things, so tell yours.
As I deal with the elderly, I like to communicate the following 2 principles with the elderly and their grown children.
- WHATEVER their parent offers them they are to take. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to keep it, but that they just remove it from parent’s home.
- The elderly parent should NEVER ask their grown children what they did with it. That topic is a closed conversation. All too often we want to give things to our children that we want them to have, but they don’t want them. As parents, you may have found it a wonderful thing that you still have their first pacifier, but your grown kids may not get into that kind of stuff. I tell people all the time that while it sounds morbid, the truth is as parents we are always setting our kids up in so many ways. We want to be sure after we are dead and gone that they are not left with a house full of STUFF to sift through.
As a side note, the reason why grown kids still have stuff left at their parent’s house is that they don’t want it. You may have thought that they didn’t have room for it when they moved out, but the harsh reality is, they just didn’t want it. If they have been gone from home for 10-20 years and still have their clothes from high school, their notebooks, trophies, annuals, and etc. still in their bedrooms, they were left behind because they didn’t care to take them. Parents hold onto these items because they want their children to hold onto them, but one day they will throw it all in a dumpster themselves.
Getting organized and purging takes on a whole new meaning when we think about how we will leave those we love the most. It’s never too early to start cleaning out closets, attics, garages and storage buildings.
Original photo credit: Simon Howden/freedigitalphotos.net
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