There are school papers and toys and permission slips and awards and backpacks and treasures and art projects and…the list goes on and on.
Having to manage their stuff while they’re living under your roof is to be expected, but what about when they’re NOT living under your roof anymore? You now have an empty nest and a full house. What do you do with your adult child’s stuff that they haven’t taken with them?
We have five young adult children. Three are married, but they all live out on their own. At one point our nest was empty, but our attic was not! It was full of our adult kids’ memorabilia, awards, sports equipment, and even some furniture.
As you walk towards the clutter-free life, what do you do about the stuff that belongs to your adult kids? Here are nine strategies we’ve found helpful:
Identify their status: are they in transition or settled in?
When you have an adult child that’s in transition, you might choose to give a little grace until they are in a more settled place. Our second oldest daughter’s husband was in the Army for four years. She moved home twice during each of his year-long deployments, so we gave some grace on keeping some of their items in our home until he left the Army and settled down. One of our sons is currently living abroad. He has two small pieces of furniture he couldn’t take with him but he didn’t want to get rid of that he asked us to keep in the attic. We were okay saying yes to that.
Give a warning.
You’ve likely been thinking about this for a while, but your kids probably have not—out of sight, out of mind—right? Every child is different, but especially if you have a “saver,” it’s important to give them a heads up that you’re going to need them to deal with their stuff in the near future.
Set a realistic deadline.
Let them know that you’re renovating the bedroom/cleaning out the attic or garage/having a yard sale on a certain date. Ask them to come get what they want to keep or sell themselves by that date. Let them know that anything that’s theirs in your house after that date will be sold, donated, or disposed of on that date. (And you’ll be keeping the proceeds from any sales!) Then do exactly what you communicated you would do.
Be prepared for your own emotional responses.
It may be hard for you, but you have to keep your eye on the target—to live light, free, and not weighed down with stuff. Getting rid of things doesn’t get rid of the memories. You always have those with you, and you don’t need their things to remember.
Adjust your expectations.
The items you thought were important to save may not be important at all to your child. That has to be okay. You have to allow your child to have differing priorities than you do. They have to have the freedom to assign a different meaning to stuff than you do. Resist the urge to try to convince your child of why something should be important to them. He or she is different than you and that has to be okay.
Understand today’s young adults.
In general, millennials (born 1981 to 1996) and GenZ (born 1997 to today) are disposable generations. They are a generation or two away from a direct influence of the Great Depression where you learned to save everything and use it in some way. Many of today’s young adults are minimalists and not very attached to their stuff. One of our daughters and her husband have sold everything and traveled full time not once, but twice! They are not attached to things at all. While I treasure some of my great-grandmother’s antiques in my own home, I may be the last generation in our family to do so, and that’s got to be okay. We have to resist the urge to pressure our kids to value something because we value it.
Use your phone.
As you are decluttering, take photos of questionable items and text them to your kids for quick decisions. Accept their answers. Remember, however, there may be special items (NOT EVERYTHING!) none of the kids want (such as their Dad’s train set) that you might choose to keep because your adult kids may not be at the age or stage of life where they might use or appreciate them. You could wait on those few things until they are further down the road of life with children of their own.
Have a plan for sentimental baby items.
Maybe you brought each of your children home in the same outfit and you’re not sure what to do with something like that. Could you frame it and put it in a wall photo collage with each child’s baby pictures? Things in boxes aren’t enjoyed. Is there a way you can enjoy the things that mean the most to you?
Think about future generations.
We’ve gotten rid of many toys over the years, but I kept my kids’ Rescue Heroes, Little People, and Legos as well as some books and other small toys they all enjoyed. Now our grandchildren are enjoying those classic toys when they visit, and they are vastly different than the toys they have at home.
One of the best parts of the empty nest is being able to reclaim the use of your house in a way that fits your passions and interests. With a little bit of communication and effort, you can make sure you’re not tripping over the past on your way to the future you’re creating.
Jill Savage is the author of fourteen books including her newest book Empty Nest Full Life: God’s Best For Your Next. You can find out more information about Jill and her resources for empty nest or close-to-empty-nest moms at www.EmptyNestBook.com.
Kathi interviews mother of four Ashley Auerbach, our new favorite adventurer on the podcast this week. Ashley and her husband made the decision to move out of a house and into an RV and travel. Talk about the adventure of a lifetime! Ashley discusses how God led them to live small while giving them the most unexpected time of their life.
In this episode you will hear:
Inspiration to live small in God’s big plan for you
How following His lead can be the most intense and amazing journey you’ll ever want to have
Ideas on how to create a curated life within your 3000 or 300 square feet.
This fun video shows the small living lifestyle and we thought you guys would be interested in seeing it. Enjoy!
How to Avoid Distractions and Live Out Your God-Given Purpose
When it comes down to it, clutter is a distraction.
As I walk around my house, trying to get ready to host a group of five of my favorite women for three days, I can feel annoyance with myself starting to rise.
Here are some thoughts that come to mind:
“Why do I have all these half-done projects lying around?”
“Why didn’t I finish unloading the dishwasher? Now I have to unload it before I load it.” (Because the dryer buzzer had gone off.)
“Why did I leave the pile of bills on the table instead of paying them?” (I wasn’t sure where the money was going to come from for an unexpected auto repair.)
“I wish I could finish half of what I start. Why is my normally mostly-put-together home suddenly way more out of control than normal?”
And then I think about my past week:
One of our grown children is in a career crisis.
Our contractor is two months behind on completing our renovation.
I’m stuck on a part of the book I’m writing and can’t seem to focus.
My husband is going through some significant health issues.
Clutter was only a symptom of a distracted mind.
When my heart is heavy, sad, or frustrated, my go-to move is to either let distractions take over my life, or to create distraction so I don’t have to pay attention to painful things.
In their new book, Shiny Things, Amanda Bacon and Anne-Renee Gumley talk about the areas of distraction—not when it comes to our homes, but to our families.
Moms have particular challenges regarding distractions when raising their children. When my kids were small, I remember being pulled in so many different directions. I didn’t always know what my priorities should be.
So as a mom, how do you focus on the important things?
Stop being a slave to your schedule.
Just because someone asks you do to something, doesn’t mean it has earned the right to be on your calendar. Learn to value your time like never before. When I was single, my only obligation was to myself. But when I became a mom, for some reason, I thought I should be able to do everything I had done before and still be able to raise tiny humans.
Understand your limitations.
I know when I’m over-tired, I self-distract with food and stupid TV. There is nothing wrong with watching the “Holiday Armadillo” episode of Friends (again), but when I know I’m using it as distraction because I’ve stayed up too late (again), it’s time to realize I can’t run with the same energy that I could if I didn’t have kids.
Find meaning in what matters.
When I’m neck deep in distraction, oftentimes it’s because I’m looking for “hits”—something that gets me approval from outside sources. When that happens, I realize I’m at a stage in marriage or parenting that’s hard, where the rewards are few. I feel not only unappreciated, but downright unlovable.
In those situations, it’s important to remind myself:
This is a season.
I’m doing hard work that does not have immediate rewards.
God sees my efforts, even when no one else does.
We’re all prone to chase shiny things, whatever that looks like in each stage of life.
Recognizing the reasons we are drawn to distractions helps us to focus on the purpose God created us for, especially as parents. Then we can give the best of ourselves to what matters most — loving God and our families.
The generous people over at Harvest House want to give our readers Amanda Bacon and Anne-Renee Gumley’s book, Shiny Things. Five people will win a copy and 1 grand prize winner will receive:
A copy ofShiny Things
Rustic Felt Letter Board 10×10
A Notebook Journal
18 Colored Felt Pens
Enter to win by commenting below. Are distractions keeping you from your highest priority? What shiny things are distracting you right now?
On today’s episode, Kathi welcomes friend and author KariAnne Wood to talk about her devotional; You’ve Got This! (Because God’s Got You). Kathi and KariAnne chat about how to find joy and stay encouraged even in the middle of tough places.
On today’s encouraging show you’ll learn:
What to do on the days when you just don’t feel like “you’ve got this”
Why sometimes we need to just press pause
How to give away “extra joy” and why it’s a blessing for all when we do
Enter to Win!
Enter to win a copy of KariAnne’s book!
Two lucky winners will win a copy of You’ve Got This (Because God’s Got You)
Enter by answering in the comments:
“Brag on yourself. Comment about a place where you KNOW you’ve got this.”
To help out the show: • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one. • Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe now.
Meet Our Guest
KariAnne Wood, writes the decorating and lifestyle blog Thistlewood Farms from her project-filled historic home in Dallas, Texas. She recently followed God’s call and jumped back “home” with her family from the middle of the country to the busy Dallas Metroplex where she lives with her husband and four children. Learn more
Spring isn’t the only time to tackle cleaning. As we face down holiday prep for the busy season ahead, tackling some of the things we do in our annual Spring Fling in the Clutter Free Academy Facebook group are a great idea. In this video from spring, Kathi’s talks about her famous 3 Questions that you need to ask to decide if something has earned the right to live in your space. There are a variety of reasons we hold onto things and with her usual grace-filled manner, Kathi talks about making the hard calls to live free. Let’s clear out some clutter and make way for the family fun and festive season we are about to enter. Watch now:
I have one job in this post – to convince you that creating your daily routine is possible.
Even if habits are not your thing.
Even if you are not a morning person.
Trust me. This is possible.
We’ve all tried to create habits that would make us be more efficient, keep our homes clean and clutter free, and would get us out the door in the morning and into bed at a reasonable time.
Here is the first thing I want you to know: I am the least “routine” person you’ve ever met. My approach to each day was fresh and new (read random and chaotic). So, if I can do this, your daily routine is totally within reach.
The second thing I need you to know: I have never been a morning person. My mom, when signing me up for kindergarten, told the teacher if I didn’t get into the “Late Birds” group, we would have to change schools. There would be no “Early Bird” class for little Kathi. She didn’t want to physically drag me out of bed every morning.
But as an adult, I realized that if I want to get stuff done in life, I need to get up before the rest of the world. (Or at least my kids.)
I really believe having a morning routine is one of the most powerful ways to not just change your day, but change your life, because we give ourselves more permission to go deeper in the morning than we do at any other time.
Having a morning routine means deciding in advance what you’re going to do, so you can spend your mental energy focusing on what’s really important for the day.
How to Create a Daily Routine for Mornings
Here are six steps to creating your morning daily routine.
Make a list of everything you do in the mornings.
Go into detail, and leave nothing out, no matter how small. Here’s an idea of some things you’ll want to include:
• Brushing teeth
• Making breakfast
• Finding car keys
• Getting kids ready
• Quiet time
• Making coffee
• Putting on makeup
• Getting dressed
• Eating breakfast
• Packing your computer bag
• Making lunches
Evaluate your list.
The next morning, if you remember things that aren’t on the list, write them down. I want you to get an accurate reflection of what you can accomplish and see where the stress is in the morning.
Are you a morning person? Awesome! Load up your mornings, but load it up with the most important stuff.
Are you a night owl? Do everything you can to prep the night before so you can get the rest you need. I will do a whole other blog post on having an evening routine, but the bottom line is…PREP, PREP, PREP.
If it’s not working, brainstorm ways to make it work. Maybe you need a longer prep list the night before, or you might even need to plan earlier in the week. Making a big pot of oats to heat up in the microwave or putting together your outfits for the week can make your mornings go more smoothly. I’m a big fan of a prep and plan day to set you up for success for the rest of the week.
Set Up a Staging Area
This is everything when you are trying to get out the door each morning. Staging is the act of having everything ready to go when you are. Putting everything by the door will save you tons of time and stress. You could even place a chair or table there for that purpose.
Items to place in your staging area:
School or work projects
Travel mug or water bottle
You can even have a list of the things you need to take in that area so you are sure not to forget a thing.
Complete Tasks By Location
This is one of those tiny tricks that will absolutely save your mornings.
As much as I need to get in the steps on my Fitbit, I was all over my house as I was getting ready in the morning. Going up and down the stairs a dozen times was taking up a huge chunk of my morning.
So now, I break up my morning by location.
When creating your daily routine, I want you to think about what rooms you use in the morning (kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, upstairs, downstairs, etc.) and figure out all the things that need to be done in that room.
Have quiet time
I’m a “go downstairs first thing” kinda girl, so I get all my kitchen stuff done, move to my bedroom, and then, if I’m leaving the house, move to the front door and prep to leave.
Time yourself to see how long things actually take.
We are time optimists.
We think it takes five minutes to put on makeup, but it really takes ten. Time yourself so you know where you can save time, and where to schedule more. You’ll have a realistic idea about how long your morning routine takes and reduce your stress level getting out the door.
Print out your list so it’s easy to follow.
Put it up in the kitchen, your bathroom, the bedroom, or wherever you’ll see it. Practice, practice, practice.
When I did this, I learned more efficient ways to get my list done faster. Since I normally eat oatmeal for breakfast, I got to where I could unload the dishwasher in the 3 minutes and 33 seconds it takes to cook in the microwave.
The first couple of weeks are discovery. After that, it’s execution.
Adjust as you go.
By sheer accident, I discovered that my oatmeal turns out just as good if I only cook it for 3 minutes, so I had to think of new strategies to unload the dishwasher 33 seconds faster.
Sometimes you’ll have to change your routine as circumstances change, like for a new job or school schedule. Keep adjusting your routine so that it continues to work for you.
One of the best things that will come out of this is you’ll continually be thinking about how to save time and make your daily routines more efficient. Here are some of my favorite tricks:
For the dishwasher, I learned that loading things in groups (plates, drinking glasses, knives, etc.) saves me time in unloading.
Set up your coffee the night before. I want to hug myself when I come downstairs and smell coffee.
I leave my walking shoes by the front door so when it’s time to exercise, I don’t need to go upstairs to get them.
I leave my computer charging downstairs so it’s ready to go in the morning (and fully charged.)
I make lunches the night before, and have bought these great salad containers so we can prep the night before (or even two nights before. They are that good.)
I have a hook in my bedroom where I hang the next day’s outfit.
I sleep in a cute pair of leggings, a tank top, and a sports bra, so I’m ready for exercise the next morning.
One More Tip
By the way, there’s one other thing that can keep us from a happy morning: Clutter! (You knew I had to go there on a Clutter Free Academy blog post.)
If you haven’t already joined our growing community on Facebook, click below to find an encouraging, shame-free place where you’ll get the support you need to get the clutter out of your house.