The crap the kids left behind… and you can’t part with 188



View Profile

Ever felt like you really want to downsize but there is a house full of crap, memories and “special things” holding you back? And even worse, it’s not yours to throw out.

Perhaps your kids left home 10 years or more ago but there’s boxes piled up in the garage of their “special stuff”. Maybe your husband has collected things 30 years ago that he doesn’t care much about now except for the nostalgia.

You know the stuff – the things you don’t want in your house but you don’t want to throw out either. And there’s a point when all that stuff that isn’t yours becomes hard to look at, deal with and remove from your life but its holding you back. Have you had this experience?

Perhaps it’s your daughter’s old school diaries, full of teenage angst, her yearbooks and her little collectables from her teenage Disneyland or London trip before she moved into a share house and declared she was only taking the stuff she needed with her.

It could be a box of stuffed toys from when the kids were little that has gone musty and no one wants, except that they were given to them by their grandparents so they are full of “special” memories.

Maybe your daughter started collecting a glory box when she was 16. With no sign of getting married it’s now a box in your garage with a few mismatching plates and dreams, and all of you hope they get a home one day.

Your son, on the other had went through an awesome phase of collecting model cars which used to line the walls of his bedroom. He left them when he moved in with his mates of course. Frankly they’re more special to you because you bought them for him than they are to him, who is reminded of his awkward teenage years whenever you talk about them.

Your husband has a great collection of matchboxes from travelling the world when you were 35. You don’t smoke, don’t display them and don’t use them. So why are you keeping them? Ahhh it’s the memories again.

Kids are a terrific part of our memories, so are the finer years of our youth and at our age we know memories are special, even get nostalgic about things to the point where we can’t get rid of them.

So what should you do? There’s two schools of thought and we want to hear about your experience today.

My mum recently “called it”… that is, she said “enough is enough, I’m not storing any of my five children’s stuff in my garage anymore. You all have houses come and take it away or I’m taking it to the tip.”

I’m pretty sure each of us shrugged, nodded and smiled. We didn’t come and get that stuff, and she didn’t have the guts to throw it out. Yet she wants to downsize desperately and struggles with this. Should she just toss it?

On the other side of my family, when my in-laws downsized a couple of years ago. They turned up on my doorstep with all the things in their house that they didn’t want any more but they didn’t want to throw out. We called it “reverse teenaging”, that is, they dumped three boxes of things they didn’t want and said, “you must want these important things from our life don’t you?”. They brough porcelain dolls, doilies, even an electric typewriter that they thought my kids would like to look after because they didn’t want to throw them out. We weeded out a few things quickly, and gave them to charity, but three years on I now have a box in my garage with their stuff in and they live in a nice, crisply furnished unit without crap everywhere.

The big message is, you really have three paths to take when dealing with your kids stuff, your memories and the next steps in your life.

  1. Throw it out
  2. Pass it on
  3. Declare you’re never going to downsize

Which type of person are you… Tell us your story today.

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. Im downsizing and I’ve had huge throw outs from the garage, a lot of my neighbours have taken the man things which my husband collected and I’m not taking to my new house cause I’m nit gong to use electric saws drills etc, so my neighbours have had a ball, still more to go though, my kids stuff has started moving, I’m having a rubbish drive soon, what is not taken will go in the throw out, I’m sick if the sight of things and I’m not going to be a storage unit at my new place

    3 REPLY
    • That’s exactly what I did Vivienne, and the last bits and pieces went to the OP shop. It felt so good to start again without all the excess.

    • Be drastic Vivienne ,I was before I moved and I love my uncluttered home ,and just yesterday two bags of tops went to vinnies , if I see something and it’s not been used out it goes ,someone will be glad of it . Good luck with your move ,I’m sure it will go smoothly ,let us know 💐

  2. Mike here-funny that, yesrerday I posted this picture after cleaning out the top drawer from my desk, I rckon it’s been a few days since I did it. There were a few artefacts there which in a few yeaes woukd have puzzled all but the best archaeologists

    3 REPLY
    • Mike here-I also have paintings on my wall painted by my grand kids while they were in kindy the oldest grand is 20 & the youngest is 16. I baulk at tossing them

      1 REPLY
      • A few years back mom moved to live in a retirement Unit, and I was called to cull what she would take, toss, give away, sell. She had five children, and by then we were all over 40, married with children, and a couple of them deceased as well, so the amount of memories she had collected over 50 years ranged from letters to little shoes, negatives, drawings, two long cuts of breaded hair from my sister and mine, school paraphernalia to militaria. I separated the items by child on a nice shawl she had, photographed each group, then boxed them, and gave them to one niece on each family. As for my dead young brother’s, I gave those items to another brother to burn in a ceremony at the beach. When I came back home to Australia, I scanned the negatives and put all of it in a book with stories that I remembered from back then and gave each brother’s family one copy. It felt I was honouring mom’s memory and her own memories of her life.

    • JuneMike Denison maybe you should store them in an album or do as some of my friends did and make a collage of them.

    • Mike here-a good idea Nita, but I have an album plus the ones on the wall. Unfotunately were I to collage tgem I would need a wall from the art gallery to mount them. I got so many I’m beginning to believe that my son & daughter actively counselled their children to send them to Pa

  3. We down sized last year. The kids came and we culled, oh how we culled. We took photos of drawings and “special” projects I had hung onto for years. They have kids and I think this was a learning experience for them both. I’m now in the process of journaling the stories attached to the photos. I must admit, it was a terribly emotional process sorting and throwing, but emotion aside, very rewarding!

    2 REPLY

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *