As a Professional Organizer since 2000 who describes herself as a Life Navigator, I’ve seen many no-longer-used or needed items in 80-year-old adults’ basements and garages that belonged to their own grown children along with things they kept themselves since their early teen years. We all need to grow up and be honest about where we are and which quarter we are now experiencing. Certainly, into our 60’s we need to be paying close attention to our accumulation of stuff. Personally, I want to be a blessing to my grown children and not burden them with a lot of stuff to wade through and determine where or to whom it should go. I know one family that was able to remove all their elder mother’s things the day following her death since editing what was needed and used continued to the last days of her life.
Inevitably the season or quarter of life [Second (26-50 yrs.) or Third (51-75yrs.)] arrives when the children as young adults move out, or at least part of them moves out. Teaching and helping them become successful adults, or adulting as it is now being referred to, remains in play. The job of the adult parent is to set the boundaries for how much and for how long their children’s stuff can continue to reside or be stored in your home’s garage, attic, or basement.
Have you experienced growing tired of your grown children’s stuff still in your garage? Consider if it is reasonable to keep their Cabbage Patch doll in your garage when the man-child is 39 years old and not yet married. Would he really want to show Miss Right his doll that is in his mom’s garage? Doubt if she would be impressed. Or what about the 36-year-old single woman with 7 storage units in various cities around the county. Would that excite Mr. Right? Can you imagine introducing him to each unit? The woman’s parents “guilted” her into hanging on to all the deceased relative’s things because she might need or want it one day and she made all the monthly payments.
Their stuff is their stuff, and they need to learn how to sort through what they want, will use, and feel they need in their home (even if an apartment). They may really want to hold onto something and determine if it is worth storing in a unit they pay for and are responsible for; that is what successful adults do. They are responsible for their stuff up until their own last breath. They can decide when to let go of it and bless others that may need what they no longer need or use, so resist storing their stuff for years or decades.
Like most of us, we tend to move a few times in our lives and there are things to do to help prepare for it and that is especially true with elder parents. Seek professional support to help … work through those challenging conversations.
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