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As seen in the Dayton Daily News on September 14, 2019.

How many of you are empty nesters, but your adult children’s stuff is still in your home?

Have your children been living on their own in their clutter-free homes, while you’ve been storing all of their childhood things? It’s time to give their stuff the heave-ho.

Why should you do this now? Pairing down belongings in your home makes it easier to cope when surprises or emergencies arise.

For example, your basement could flood because of a sump failure or a broken water heater. Where are your children when everything needs to be carried outside to dry and brought back in?

Having more stuff than necessary in your storage areas makes it easier for insects and rodents to hide. Slow leaks that harbor mold and mildew can also be hidden from view.

You or your spouse could become ill and unable to deal with all the stuff. If this happens, you want your children to be health advocates at your bedside, not rummaging through stuff trying to find things necessary to run your household in your absence.

Finally, wouldn’t it just be nice to know your storage areas are clutter-free and organized? How many of you feel dread when you think of these spaces?

Let me explain how I have handled this. When my first child went off to college, her brother moved into her room. I gave her boxes to pack away anything that she was not taking with her. These boxes went into our basement with her name on them.

Over the next several years as she moved through adulthood and several apartments, I had her purge items from the boxes. She eventually got them down to six manageable boxes.

She recently got married, and they bought their first home. My husband and I offered to help her move. On move-in day, I packed the boxes in my car and placed them in her storage area. I didn’t ask or warn her they were coming. She said nothing as they were being brought in. Several weeks later, after she had a chance to look through them again, she told me she parted with many of the items.

She is 26 years old. The only thing she has in our home is a pair of pajamas and a toothbrush in our guest room.

My second daughter is living in an apartment out-of-state. Her room became the guest room, which meant all of the belongings she left behind needed to be taken out of the room. These items were boxed and taken to the basement.

When she visits, she never finds the time to pare them down. My plan is to visit her with all the boxes in tow. We’ll sort through what she wants to discard or keep at her apartment, and then decide what I can store for her in the meantime.  Now that she is older and has not seen these items for years, I know she can send me home with just a few boxes. Very manageable to store until she buys a home.

Once you make your children responsible for their own things, suddenly the majority of the stuff they didn’t take with them isn’t that important. And they let it go. Give them a deadline and watch your home become more clutter-free. Ahhhh, sweet relief!

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