Resolution Action: Spare Rooms, Residual Clutter from an Adult Child

One of the most popular sets of items in the spare rooms of many of my clients are the things left behind from the childhoods of their adult children. Sometimes, it's the parents that can't let go. Sometimes, it's the adult child that won't let go, but won't take it in either. Today, I'm going to address both situations. Parents -

First ask yourself, are  you hanging onto these things for you or for your child? If it's for you, think again to the goals set for this room. Does this clutter help support that goal or is it a hinderance on the space? Look through it. Does it really hold the sentimental value you think it does? I once had a client that had all of her son's baby clothes. He was 31. When she looked through it all, she realized most of it was stained and had no idea why she had hung onto it for so long.  If it is a hinderance and in the way, it needs to go. If you're holding on to things for the child, ask them if they want it. If so, give them a deadline to get it out of your house. Hold firm to the deadline. If they want it badly enough, they'll make it work. We all make work what we really want.

Adult Children -

If your items are cluttering up your parents' home and have reached the point that they are in the way and affecting their quality of life, you HAVE to do something about it. Tell them to donate whatever it is or take it in and make it work in your own home. Either way, deal with it now while it's easier. You may come into the position that your parents get ill, have to move into a nursing home or die. Cleaning out the possessions of a loved one is trying and emotional enough without having the added impact of something that could have already been taken care of. Granted, this isn't something we want to think about, but it's true. I once spoke with an adult child that won't let his parents get rid of his childhood collections, but he won't take them either. I asked what he was going to do when his parents passed and he had to deal with his things on top of selling the house, planning a funeral and all the other things that must be taken care of when we lose a loved one. His response was, "It won't matter. They'll be in a home by then." The truth is, we don't know what will happen to our parents as they age until they do. My 96 year old grandmother is still in her home. If your things are cluttering up your parents' home, suck it up and do something so that they can have a restful and organized space.

Now let's stop making excuses for each other and get it done! Tomorrow, we're putting your spare room back together.