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Empty Nest and the "kids" things

Q.We are empty-nesters now but I can't bring myself to get rid of the "kid's" things. They have moved on and don't want or need the items but it is comforting to look in at how their rooms used to be and remember the good times we all had. My husband thinks I am nuts. Maybe I am. What do you think?

Reply: There are no rights or wrongs when it comes to throwing things out. In a nutshell, if the clutter does not bother you or your housemates, no problem.

In your case, if your husband is annoyed, or worse, by your habits, you will need to negotiate a more comfortable level of keepsaking. Additionally, there are other issues to consider:

1. Do you have so much clutter that it creates a fire hazard? The answer is "yes, you have a fire hazard" if you can not see your floors or walk about freely without fear of slipping or tripping. Ditto if you have tall stacks of paper, magazines, clippings, books, etc. that encumber free passage throughout your home. Ask yourself how easily you would get out in case of an emergency.

2. What kind of a mess would you leave for your adult children and/or your husband if something unexpected and tragic were to happen to you? If your family would be frustrated and overwhelmed with scope of the clean-up job, it is time to do get rid of some things.

3. Do you know what is where, and whose it is? If not, you have too much stuff.

Keep in mind that your memories are in your heart, not in the clutter.

Also know that creating changes can free up physical and emotional room for lots of new experiences to enjoy; turning one kid's old bedroom into a reading or sewing or TV watching space gives you more than it takes away. Learn to take comfort from your family in new ways.

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Jill Ellen Shankar
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