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How to tell your adult kids their stuff needs to go!

If your adult children moved out of your house years ago, but their stuff never did, you may decide that it’s time for that stuff to go.

In addition to freeing up space for you, saying goodbye to your kids’ things can have other benefits: It can help you kickstart your own downsizing project. It can give you practice in letting go. And you may get to hear how ridiculous it sounds when people try to explain why they need to keep stuff they never use.

Ready to get started? Here’s how to let your kids know that while they’ll always have a place in your heart, they’re no longer welcome to take up room in your garage.

Tell them what you’re thinking. Let them know that you’re decluttering, and that you want to include them deciding what to do with their stuff. Make it clear that you’re not discussing if their stuff has to go – only when and how.

Give them a timeline. Give them enough time to come and get their stuff, but not enough to pretend they forgot you asked them to do it.  Since it’s your house, the burden is on you to follow through. If you say you’re going toss things by a certain day, do it!

Work together to make a plan. As you would do with your own things, you can suggest they take things in stages: Sort first. Then decide, pack, and donate. If they live far away, ask for clear guidelines on what they want to keep and toss, and how they want things shipped. (You may want to add that you cannot be held responsible if something they wanted to keep is mistakenly tossed.)

Remember whose stuff it is. Your kids may choose to let go of things that you’d expect they’d want to hold onto. Don’t complicate their decisions by questioning them. Their stuff, their choice. 

Take pictures.  A lot of kid memorabilia and paraphernalia – schoolwork, pictures, toys – are things that disintegrate with age. If your kids, or you, want to hold on to the memories taking pictures of those treasures can be just as good a way – or better – than keeping the thing itself.

Whether it’s your kids’ stuff or your own, letting go can be a challenging process. If you could use some help, or just need some ideas on clearing out the clutter in your home, ask us.