Ready to move but feel bogged down with all the family’s “stuff” collected over the years? Not sure how to pick and chose, which items will come with you, and which will find new homes? Here are some tips on how to weed out the junk, conserve the valuables (sentimental and monetary) and make your move more efficient. Let’s start first with the kids’ bedrooms.
If you have grown children who have never truly cleaned out their rooms from childhood, you aren’t alone. The trophies, stuffed animals, school artwork, music CDs, and wall hangings all had such significant meaning at some point in your child’s life. Hopefully, some of that sentimentality has waned, and parting with these items can be mutually liberating. The first thing to do is to enlist the help of your child in sorting through their possessions. If the kids live nearby, try to schedule one day for each child’s room with their active participation. You should be able to complete the room in one day if you stay focused. Have your sorting containers ready — one to pack and move, one to give away or consign, one to throw away. Touch each item only once and place it in the appropriate box. Hopefully they will take their packed box(es) home with them. If not, you should have at least reduced their possessions by about 2/3.
Some adult children will allow you to do this by yourself, especially if they live far away. Begin by asking them their expectations for what to do with their possessions. If they are amenable to getting rid of a great deal, then you can start the job without them. Sort through and remove as much junk as possible, sort toys and stuffed animals for giving away to a local donation center, and collect diplomas, photos, scrapbooks and other important papers for preserving. Once you have made progress on the above items, focus on things that you think they may want to keep.
Using your smart phone, send individual pictures of the items. Have them tell you what to do with each item. Again, do this at a scheduled time when you know they aren’t busy so that your photos aren’t interruptions and you can quickly go from item to item. As with anything that can’t be decided immediately, it is better to pack and move it than to discard and regret your decision (provided you aren’t doing this with every item).
The kids’ rooms can be the first to get cleaned out, even before you decide to move or if you are an empty nester trying to create more room for yourself. The process, and the emotions that go along with clearing out decades of memories are the same. Prepare for it; embrace a new, clutter-less life, remembering the joys of the past, but not all the mess. The Canadian photographer Dona Schwartz has a short photo essay of empty nesters and what they have done with their kids’ rooms. Check it out at http://www.donaschwartz.com/nestImagesEmpty.html. I only hope that you can go further in your ability to clear out or re-invent these spaces! Good luck and don’t forget to have fun!