Dealing With Kids’ Stuff Who’ve Left The Nest

Kid clutter may be one of the easiest category of excess stuff in your home to deal with, at least in my opinion. When kids no longer share your space the stuff they leave behind is just clutter for you.

When sharing living space with someone, be it a spouse, child or roomate, you’ve got to have some give and take, and compromise is often in order. However, if you don’t have room for someone’s stuff who doesn’t live there, you are not required to hold onto it any longer and have to make some difficult decisions.

Wait, don’t just start throwing it all out today though. You see, making decisions about someone else’s stuff, such as to trash or sell it, is a big no no. However, you can give your kids (or anyone else who is storing stuff in your home) a reasonable amount of notice to remove their stuff from your home, along with telling them what you’ll do with it if they don’t remove it by the deadline. This is a simple and fair way to deal with this type of stuff, which treats both your adult and independent kids and yourself with respect.

Dealing With Kid Clutterers

 The scenario changes, however, when your kids are still living with you, and they are the ones with the clutter. Whether they pay rent or not, you’ve chosen to share your space with them out of love and dedication, and you should consider their feelings and emotions when dealing with their stuff.

They are your kids though, so to an extent, you can dictate what they do. Perhaps some of you are laughing at this — it is true, you can only control anyone so much. However, you can’t argue that you have more control and authority over your kids than with just about anyone else.

That means, at least to a certain extent, you can tell your kids to go clean up their room and get rid of half of their stuff if you want to. However, I would urge you to temper your authority with compassion. Just like you, kids can often suffer from emotions chaining them to their clutter. In many cases those behaviors and emotions can be tied to me or lessons you’ve taught them, perhaps unconsciously.

Therefore, treat the decluttering process with your kid clutterer as a learning process. You can help them address the emotional aspects of decluttering, along with teaching them practical tips and tricks for organizing and purging items from your home. This addresses the clutter problem in your home, and also helps prepare your kids for their lives once they have their own homes to take care of.

Get Professional Help If You Need It

If you need help working through guilt that you might have to overcome as you establish these type of healthy compassionate boundaries, consider talking to a therapist who can help you realize that you are not an ogre. Or call us here at Art of Downsizing and we are happy to listen. Both Cindy and Michelle are trained counselors and have worked through these issues in our own lives.


Article by Michelle Munson.

For more information on downsizing contact Michelle at The Art of Downsizing 828-772-5959.