Decluttering the Empty Nest

Services for Real Estate Pros with Aim 4 Order LLC
So how long do you have to keep your kids' stuff?
This is a question that I'm asked by those brave enough to ask it. Some people WANT to hold on to their children's's fun to relive life's special times by seeing old momentos of younger days. And then there are the parents who want their children to take everything with them or toss it. There is no right or wrong here, it is really a matter of space and needs for the space. 
This blog is directed to those parents who want to take advantage of the new space that has opened up. 
Look at the space that has been vacated. How do you feel when you walk in there? 
  • If you're overwhelmed by the volume of stuff that's been accumulating over the years, then that's your clue that you can take decisive action to downsize and declutter the contents. 
  • If you smile lovingly at how the room looks and know that you can use it as a guest room in a pinch or that your child can still sleep there when they're in town, your work is done. Go read a book.
Back to the overwhelmed folks - 
  • Is there any trash in the room that you can easily pitch?
  • Are there any clothes from early childhood that you know you can give away?
  • Are there old magazines and books that you can bravely recycle or give away?
  • Are there old photographs that you can gather in a box and put on the top shelf of the closet?
  • Are you WILLING to text your child and ask permission to get rid of whatever you find annoying?
And yes, in a perfect world, your child would have gone through all of their worldly possessions BEFORE they moved out, but that doesn't always happen.
Without overwhelming you further, try doing 1 of the above mentioned suggestions and see how you feel. WARNING - the only mistake you can make is renting a storage space to store your children's things for 'someday.' The cost of storing their stuff for years on end is much more than the cost of buying new when the time comes. Being overly sentimental is costly! I am not suggesting that you toss EVERYTHING, but honestly evaluate the most precious items so you're not transferring the overwhelm to the next generation.
Aim 4 Order is more than happy to provide hands-on help to those wanting to transform a child's room into a useful productive space. And, in case you're daughter's room is now being used to store eBay merchandise (definitely not what I had in mind) and my son's room is my full time office now that he took his bed with him. One out of two ain't bad!

Comments (10)

Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, KW Diversified - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

Hi Cindy,  Thanks for sharing these pointers on de-cluttering our empty nest.  Helpful information to make an unpleasant job better.

Dec 29, 2019 03:14 PM
Cindy Bernstein

Hope it's more pleasant than you imagine, Bob!

Dec 30, 2019 07:47 AM
June Piper-Brandon
Coldwell Banker Realty - Columbia, MD
Creating Generational Wealth Through Homeownership

This is excellent advice.  I am in the process of decluttering myself and making space in my life.  It is no easy task.

Dec 29, 2019 04:02 PM
Cindy Bernstein

You can do this, June Piper-Brandon - just take a small trash or recycle bag and spend 5 minutes filling the bag(s). Easy does it wins the race.

Dec 30, 2019 07:49 AM
Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

Cindy Bernstein Another post with great suggestions for the empty nesters! How long do you keep the kids' stuff...good question?

Dec 29, 2019 07:36 PM
Cindy Bernstein

Thanks, Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland !

Dec 30, 2019 07:49 AM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Cindy. After years of carrying things around, we had a smile on our faces as the truck pulled away with all of it having new ownership! Enjoy your day!

Dec 30, 2019 05:19 AM
Cindy Bernstein

What a great feeling of accomplishment, Wayne Martin !

Dec 30, 2019 07:50 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Thankfully, we have had no children in our homes for over 35 years... so not an issue we need to think about. With all the moves we've made in the last 35 years, internationally and nationally, we learned not to hoard. Too much trouble to pack and unpack.

Dec 30, 2019 05:34 AM
Cindy Bernstein

The amount of time and energy involved in packing and unpacking multiple times surely helps to limit the volume. Great Job, Nina!

Dec 30, 2019 07:51 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hi Cindy - my Mom is pretty good at both decluttering as well as saving the important childhood memories.  A good balance.  Later in adulthood, I have received packages of photos, report cards, papers and such collected over the years so she can live a less cluttered life.  More power to her.  I don't know how my brother and sister are dealing with their own "neat packages" maybe you could address that in a future post.    I could forward it to them as an after-holiday gift.  

Dec 30, 2019 05:54 AM
Cindy Bernstein

Kudos to your mom, Michael! The quickest way to deal with report cards, etc. is to take a picture with your phone so you can satisfy the need to 'keep' it but not have the clutter. Thanks for your idea of a future blog - will do!

Dec 30, 2019 07:52 AM
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hello Cindy,  Great information and everyone can decluter for sure.  My wife goal for 2020 is to give away lots.


Dec 30, 2019 08:03 AM
Laura T. Perry
Keller Williams Elite - Lancaster, PA
CRP, GMS, Award Winning Relocation Specialist

Moving forces many to finally get rid of stuff. The key is doing it pre-listing 

Dec 30, 2019 08:15 AM
Cindy Bernstein

That is indeed the goal, but many folks don't have/make the time and instead box and store it until.........

Dec 30, 2019 02:40 PM
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
Retired New Hampshire Home Stager

Excellent tips!

I know from first hand experience just how costly a mistake a storage rental can be. Before my wiser "stager" years I wasted money storing stuff that ended up mostly in the trash many years after paying to store it.


Jan 01, 2020 09:03 AM
Cindy Bernstein

It's powerful advice coming from a former-storage-user!!

Jan 02, 2020 06:12 AM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Thank you very much for sharing your experience and your advice.

Jan 01, 2020 10:15 AM