My mother took a week off from work recently and spent some of this free time cleaning out the closet in her home’s guest bedroom. The guest room used to be my childhood bedroom, and so I shouldn’t have been surprised to learn that some of my stuff was still cluttering up the closet. After a phone conversation with her about the best way to get rid of my forgotten items, we’re both fairly certain that all of my stuff is now out of the house.
What is awful about this situation, though, is that I haven’t lived with my parents since I went off to college 16 years ago. My unwanted stuff has been taking up space in someone else’s home for almost half of my life! Ack! Are you in the situation where you’re storing your child’s clutter when he or she hasn’t lived at home in 10, 15, or 20+ years?
The best case scenario for handling your adult child’s clutter in your home is to have her come in and clear the clutter herself. You should set a specific date and time for this project that takes you and your adult child’s schedules into consideration. Packing up the stuff and tossing it without any input from your daughter will likely create animosity, so it really is a good idea to have her be a part of the process.
If your child now lives half-way across the country and can’t clear the clutter himself or on a convenient schedule, I suggest a virtual clutter clearing. To take on this project, you’ll need a digital camera, a computer, a Flickr account, and some boxes. Photograph all of your child’s items as you place them into boxes. Then, upload all of the images to a Flickr account and send your child the URL. Your child can go through the pictures online and decide the fate of the stuff. I suggest that there only be two options for the stuff: “Send to me” and “Don’t send to me.” Let your child know that you will make the decision to donate, sell, or trash the things in the “don’t send to me” pile. I think that you’ll be surprised how few things your child chooses to have sent his way now that he has photographic images of all of the things he left. And, over the course of a few days, you’ll finally be free of the clutter.