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Give Away Old Prom Dresses, More

Has your home become a resting place for your adult children’s long lost term papers, prom dresses or old toys? If your children are grown -- meaning they have graduated from college, are employed or have their own home -- it might be time for them to get their stuff out of your home.


Unless you have decided to start a rental storage unit facility in your home for your adult child’s belongings, here are some tips to help your children get their stuff out of your attic, basement, or garage!


You will have to remind them that it is difficult for you to be the caretaker of their stuff. It is hard enough to take care of your own stuff, let alone old toys, long forgotten valentines and their high school letterman jacket 


Maybe you have plans for that spare bedroom or you just don’t want to shuffle their stuff anymore to get to your own. You did purchase your home several years ago and you get to decide what to do with the space. If you want your kid’s stuff clogging up the space, by all means keep it! If not, let go of it.


Let them know that you are planning on moving sometime in the near future and your moving costs will increase due to paying to move their stuff. You may want to consider having your adult child pay to move his or her belongings if they won’t pick them up.


If you make the decision to reclaim your space and let go of their accumulated stuff, let your children know. Give them a reasonable deadline to come get their things and stick to it. I have worked with several seniors who will not stick to a deadline when it comes to adult children picking up their stuff. The usual excuses are:


  • “My daughter Marsha is too busy to get her things out of my house.”


  • “Sally lives in a small place and really doesn’t have room. She’s only 39 years old.”


  • “Debbie lives in California with her husband and three children and I don’t want to burden her with her things.”


If you give the adult child an excuse not to make decisions about their belongings, they won’t make a decision. Force them to make a decision by giving them a reasonable, inflexible deadline.


Respect your daughter or son’s decision about what they want to do with their stuff. If you give them the power to let go of their belongings, let them do that. Don’t try to talk them into keeping their stuff if they don’t want to. If they do decide they don’t want their items, suggest that you could donate it for them to a charity.


If they live far away and want their things, offer to ship them. You may want to pay for the shipping costs or ask your child to pay. Shipping old term papers, college books and old stuffed animals might not be as appealing to them once they see how much the fee is to ship them.


If they don’t make decisions or pick up by the imposed deadline, the items become yours to decide what to do with. You can donate them to charity, place them in a storage unit or toss them. Start with a small pile and let them know you are donating the pile in the next week to see if they respond. If they really want the stuff, they will come and get it.


If all else fails, give them a list of storage rental places and remind them there will be a monthly fee!


It can be difficult to get your attic, basement or spare bedroom cleared out of your adult child’s belongings, but it can be done. Letting your child know that you need your space back is sometimes enough to remind the child to get the stuff out of your home. In other cases an imposed deadline will usually do the trick!


By Vickie Dellaquila


Vickie Dellaquila is a Certified Professional Organizer and owner of Organization Rules, Inc, located in Pittsburgh, PA. Her company provides senior downsizing, relocation and residential organizing services. She is also the author of the book  Don’t Toss My Memories in the Trash - A Step-by-Step Guide to Helping Seniors Downsize, Organize, and Move and the Moving Workbook. For more information, visit www.OrganizationRules.com or call 412-913-0554.



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