The kids are gone, off to college where they can gain an education, get a great high-paying job and take care of you in your old age. In the meantime, you’ve got some work to do. The nest is empty.
If this were a movie script, the argument would be over turning their vacant bedrooms into a sewing room, an exercise space or a place to meditate on the meaning of life. But before that debate can be settled, the rooms have to be cleaned. We’re not talking about running a vacuum, and it’s far more than just the bedrooms that need work.
Here’s a look at how to declutter five spaces throughout your home, and spruce up that empty nest.
The remnants of your children’s lives are scattered around your home. This is easy to say but difficult to do: Dump the junk. Toys they played with, books they read, clothes they wore, their games, bikes and sports gear.
These items were once important, but now those items only trigger memories. And while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, the clutter they create is.
Be sure to ask your kids whether there’s anything they want to hang on to before you start pitching items with abandon — but once you’ve handed those cherished few items off to them, don’t let your memories keep you from getting your home back in order.
There’s a good chance you have a box or two or 10 of old children’s toys, things that haven’t been played with in years. Maybe they’re tucked away in a corner of the basement or behind a pile of old clothes in a closet. You were going to save them for the grandkids, saying, “This is what mom and dad used to play with!”
Maybe there’s one or two worth saving — and that’s a big maybe. Donate them if they’re in good shape. If they’re scratched, broken or damaged in other ways, dump them.
Your budding Picasso’s artwork has likely been stuck on the fridge with brightly colored number and letter magnets for years. Choose your favorites and fill a small box with those treasured works of art. The rest should find their way to the circular file — your kids will understand!
Consider downsizing your kitchenware. Your teenage son (and his football team friends) are no longer invading your home and kitchen like they a gang of marauding Vikings. Your daughter and her clique no longer need every pillow in the house for their get-togethers. Consider getting rid of those pillows, and maybe even some furniture that is out of style. (Now is as good a time as any to reinvent your home’s style…freedom!)
Before you can turn the space they grew up into a man cave or rent it out to a border, it needs to be decluttered. If they didn’t take some clothes with them to school, those clothes aren’t important. If they’re in decent shape, donate them. If they’re not, dump them.
It might be worth hanging on to the bed. After all, there is a chance that they’ll return home during their breaks and maybe even for a short time after school, but that beanbag chair they begged for, for years? It can go.
All those participation ribbons and trophies, you know the ones every kid got just for showing up, those can go. The milk crates and wood plank repurposed as a makeshift desk. Those can go, too.
The problem with baseball cards and comic book collections, unless you were collecting before the 1970s, is that you’re not going to find too many worth the space they’re taking up.
That Beanie Baby collection, the dolls, the rock star and movie posters — they all need to go.
Over the years, the stuff piles up. The initial enthusiasm fades away until the only thing being collected is dust. New passions come along and with them new things that will one day join the other knickknacks on the shelves. Dump them.
The hardest part of any decluttering project is throwing away the first item. It helps to have an incentive.
Order a Bin There Dump That bin and have it delivered to your home. No matter what size you need, the bright green bin sitting on your driveway serves as a constant reminder of the work that needs to be accomplished.
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