Closed September 2017

Are You Keeping It For the Kids? | Clutter Video Tip

I want you to take a minute and think about Mother Nature and the family units in the wild. Elephants keep their calves close for a very long time, while fish leave their fry as soon as they hatch. One thing they all have in common is going into the world with nothing but the skin (or scales) on their backs. Watch this video to see strategies for managing your legacy. Now, think about what birds do with their unencumbered chicks- they soar!

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Hi. I’m Lorie Marrero, creator of the Clutter Diet book and on-line program, and today we’re going to talk about whether you are keeping things for your kids. I have run into this in my practice as a professional organizer many times. People are keeping things for decades in their attic, their basement, or even in an off-site storage unit that they believe their kids will want some day. And I can tell you with almost 100% certainty that your kids are not going to want about 80% of that stuff. So, here are a few things to think about with the stuff that you are stockpiling for them.

Remember, it is just stuff. What you have an emotional reaction to are the memories associated with that stuff. So, someone else is going to look at this stuff and say, “Hey, this is just an old boot,” or, “This is just an old cookbook,” and you’re saying, “No, there’s a story about that boot,” and, “There’s a story about that cookbook,” but unless someone else knows what that story is, that is just a piece of junk to someone else. So, if you can provide context to that by writing out the story – maybe you can put a note inside the boot or inside the cookbook – and let people understand the significance so that if you were to get hit by a bus, someone will come along and understand why you’re keeping that. That will be much more helpful to your family. And if you offer the stuff to your children, please accept their disinterest when they say no. Hear them say no; don’t disrespect their wishes, because this can be a huge burden, and it can even be a financial hardship on your children to take on all this stuff that you’ve been collecting for them. So the shipping, the storage, I mean, they have their own families now, their own homes, their own work, they’ve got their own stuff in their own homes. They most likely are going to have a hard time juggling all of that and assimilating it into their lives.

So if you can, preserve the memories a different way. Maybe you can take a photograph of some of the stuff. Maybe you can make a little shadow box of some of the smaller items. Or maybe you can take some fabric, like old T-shirts or old dresses and you can repurpose that fabric to make something like a quilt. You know, taking these memories and making them into a form in which they can be honored and displayed and even used in a home instead of kept in a box somewhere.

Also, you may want to donate some of this stuff, and you may want to sell some of it. And a good idea is to take the earnings from the sales of these items– maybe you have some larger furniture pieces or something – and use those for your favorite charity or use those earnings to convert your memorabilia to a different format. So, you may have a bunch of slides that you need to convert over to digital photos, or you may have some Super 8 movies that you want to put on DVD. So use the sale of those items to pay for that. That’s a great idea.

Also, you might want to make some gifts out of these items. So instead of just handing them boxes of stuff, why don’t you take something like a bag full of old doilies that your grandmother crocheted and instead of handing that over to your children, take one of those doilies, have it pressed and have it framed and give that your children. Then they can use it and display it and have some pride about it in their home.

Also, think that there are other family members that might want some of this stuff. So, it may not be your children, but it might be their cousins, it might your brothers or sisters who are interested in having some of this. So use e-mail and digital photos to send the pictures of this stuff around and find out who really wants it, and then you’ll be able to have a little bit more of a way to dispose of these things the right way and not have to just guess.

Also, I want to leave you with one final reminder that is super important that may be very motivating to you. You want to do this, you want to tackle the stuff, assign significance and stories to it, and go through it, and make decisions about it, before your kids have to do it for you. So, think about that. You don’t want to burden them. Don’t make them have a bigger problem once you’ve passed away of trying to decide what you meant for them to do with all of this stuff. So tackle that now, make those decisions. And if you are a child who you know your parent is keeping this stuff for you, you might want to share this video with them to give them this perspective in a gentle way. I hope this is helpful to you. And if you need help going through all of this stuff, you can get a lot of help with our virtual consulting in our on-line program. You can check us out at

See you next time, and may you always be happy and grateful for having more than enough.

You may have been searching for how to let go of sentimental items or how much should I keep for my children?

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