“I’m leaving it to my children.” Those words hit me right in my heart.
They are the words of people who don’t plan to clear their clutter before they die. Essentially they plan to leave their mess for their children to clean up.
Fortunately most people I work with in hands-on organizing, coaching, and when I speak, feel the opposite. They show up in my life because they want to do something about their clutter. They don’t want to leave behind a nightmare of stuff, most of which would be meaningless to their children.
I tell clients and participants in my speeches that decluttering and reducing the volume of their belongings is the best gift they can give their children. Those of us who have cleaned out a parent’s house know how painful that job is. However, when I make that statement to audiences and clients I often get looks of surprise, as if they hadn’t even considered the impact of that job on their children.
When I moved my mother into assisted living in 2013 and then prepared her house for sale, I had the opportunity to feel just how difficult it is to dismantle a parent’s beloved home. I felt like I was taking apart Mom’s life.
I was lucky because my mother and step-father were not savers. There were very few papers to go through and they had nothing in the attic! However, even with less volume of belongings in the house, the pain I felt as I systematically went from room to room evaluating and packing up everything was excruciating, so very deep. I cried my way through the process, motivated by a strong desire to finish the job in order to stop that deep pain.
Mom and John’s gift to me, however unconscious, was to leave behind far fewer belongings than I usually see in many homes. The volume was small enough that it took my husband and me just two days to go through everything, and one additional day to pack up trucks to take away things that would go to my house and to consignment. Granted, as a professional organizer I was probably able to make faster progress than most people. But, even so, it was such a blessing to get that painful task done in just two weekends.
Look at your home. What will you be leaving for your children? Don’t wait to clear out your clutter. Start now! Life is uncertain. An unexpected illness or injury could prevent you from decluttering if you wait until you are older. Plus, the older you get, the more difficult it will be to do because with age your strength and energy level will diminish.
If the thought of downsizing your stuff strikes terror in your heart because it is an enormous undertaking, don’t despair. There are ways to get the job done with support.
One option is to purchase my new book, From Cluttered to Clear in Just One Year: Your Room By Room Home Makeover, coming out in December. You will learn a highly effective clutter clearing process that combines traditional organizing principles and the wisdom of feng shui, specific clutter clearing challenges and solutions for each room, plus have a clutter clearing plan for every room in the house — attic to basement.
Be one of the first to get your copy of From Cluttered to Clear in Just One Year by pre-ordering your copy at a reduced rate. Until December 1 you can order the book for just $20.65 including shipping. That is a $2 savings! To order, please send a check to: Debbie Bowie, 7293 Jay Way, Mechanicsville, VA 23111.
The pain of losing a beloved parent is so very deep. Add to that your child’s or children’s obligation to settle your affairs and clear out your living space — a process that is usually overwhelming and stirs up more pain — and it can be an emotional burden beyond belief. From Cluttered to Clear in Just One Year can be your guide to get started and systematically downsize and declutter every part of your home. Start now!