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The Clutter Categories: THE PARENT (Empty Nest Edition)

Updated: Sep 19, 2023


Your clutter says a lot about what’s going on in your life, both externally and internally. While everyone’s situation is unique, I’ve found that most people with too much stuff fall into general categories: The Collector, The Inheritor, The Parent, The Shopper, The Scout, The Historian, or The Hostess.

THE PARENT -- Empty Nester Edition

“I don’t have room for that stuff – can’t you just keep it until I’m ready?”

“I don’t want any of that stuff, throw it away.”

“Go through it for me and pull out the good stuff…”

Many parents of adult children hit a roadblock when decluttering their now empty nest: the kids are gone but their stuff remains! As a parent with three adult children, two of which live at home for legitimate reasons, trying to figure out when you can have your space back can be tricky. While only you can decide when you’ve held on to your adult child’s things long enough, here are some tips to help facilitate the process.

First of all, make sure you’re only keeping the things they want. My general rule of “like things together” will help you prepare for the inevitable sorting process your child will have to do. Once you’ve gathered and separated the things that belong to each child, talk to your adult children and ask them to make time to go through their things and discard what they no longer want to keep. This process can be done in person, via pictures and text, or video chat.

While space may be a legitimate concern for younger adult children who live in small spaces, if they’ve been out of the house for a few years they need to at least pare down the amount of stuff you keep for them. If they have a house, spouse, and children this excuse doesn’t work anymore. They have a full load of adult responsibilities, so asking them to handle and store their own memorabilia is appropriate.

If they live far away, you might need to get creative and help them go through the items remotely. Don’t agree to go through the stuff without their input. Whether it’s toys, papers, old clothes, yearbooks, etc., they need to own the decision-making responsibilities. Let them know that they will need to deal with what’s left of their belongings, too. If items are ultimately shipped, that expense belongs

to your adult child, especially if you take on the job of packing and hauling boxes to the shipping center.

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