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Cleaning Out When the Kids Are Grown


Childhood artwork circa 1990. Lego creations from the same era. Hockey trophies and baseball cards. Projects for which the grade was “A” and homework assignments that were deemed incomplete. Nintendo systems and Game Boys too and boxes and boxes of memorabilia, most tattered and scarcely recognizable.

Ask most parents and they will sigh and wearily admit to the heaps of stuff that they still have stored in their attics and basements well past the time when their kids have their own apartments. The common theme is while there is just too much stuff they can’t bring themselves to get rid of it.

And we’re not just talking about the attic and basement. Valuable space in closets and on shelves are also taken up with items that should be discarded. Sound familiar?

We know that when many young people move out for the first time they move into apartments that can’t accommodate all of their belongings; hence they leave it at their family home. Time goes by and those items left behind becomes less and less important and within a few months it is all but forgotten. Sure there is some sentimentality attached to these things but as for needing these items again, well that’s not going to happen. Yes, it’s time to clean out and take back your space.

Here are some home organizing tips from your NYC professional organizer on how to get started:

  • This is hard work, both physically and emotionally. It’s best to start with baby steps and not plan to tackle the entire job all at once. But baby-steps is one thing and letting the job drag on forever is another. Give yourself a reasonable deadline, schedule time in your calendar at regular intervals and stick to it.
  • Prioritize and start the clean out process with what bothers you the most. Is it that forlorn pile of clothes from college that are no longer in style and wouldn’t fit your kids anyway? How about the piles of notebooks from their school days? Artwork? Trophies? Start with items where there isn’t a strong attachment.
  • Be ruthless. Don’t stop and moan over each toy, obsolete piece of technology (ohhh, isn’t that the computer on which Tommy learned to play Sim City?) article of clothing or artwork. There’s no reason to hold on to all of this. The kids don’t want it, you don’t need it and just think about what you can do with the extra space (wherever that space may happen to be). If the idea of getting rid of everything is just too overwhelming you can select one item in each category and keep that for sentimental reasons.
  • There are many organizations to whom you can donate clothes, old technology and used furniture. Research these organizations BEFORE you start to clean out so you will know when you can get these items removed from your home. Many organizations will schedule a pickup at your convenience.
  • If you feel overwhelmed or need someone to help you get past the sentimentality attached to these items then it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you through the process. This is the type of work that professional organizers do each and every day and you can count on them to help you get through the process efficiently and with minimal stress.

What’s incredibly interesting is that in most situations the adult “kid” rarely wants to hold onto this “stuff.” In just a few months after moving out of their parent’s house they start to accumulate their own new “stuff” that fits their new grownup existence. Sure they may also be sentimental but rarely are they as interested as their parents in retaining all of these things.

Your NYC professional organizer reminds you to be strong and focused and get on with the job. You’ll find that you feel unbelievably relieved and happy once the “stuff” is gone.

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