Day Fourteen: 40 Bags in 40 Days Decluttering Challenge – Estate Clear Outs

Today is day fourteen of the 40 Bags in 40 Days Decluttering challenge.  What are you working on?

Yesterday, I got an email from one of our participants updating me on her family’s progress.  She shared with me that she had to put her goals aside to clean out her mother-in-laws house.  One of the lessons her husband learned over the past fourteen days is that they cannot move all of his mother’s items to their home.

Many of you who attended the workshop know that I addressed this very issue.  I challenged all of you to think about what you are leaving for your kids to deal with.   In addition, to think about what objects you need to preserve from a relatives home to really preserve their memories.

One of the most common calls for our services is to clear out a parents house to get it ready for the market.  We often see the overwhelm that families face as they process through decisions.  The shear volume of items can be difficult to sort through without a prolonged process. Sentimentality can derail the process quickly when decisions seem impossible.  In-fighting between family members can be even worse.  And at the end of the day there is usually a deadline looming to remove a lifetime of memories to new locations.

The most important thing you can do for your children is to clear large areas like your basement or attic now.  Identify the special items to everyone early on.  If there are a lot of family members to divvy items, try to make a plan now as to who you want to have the more special pieces.  If kids have already said they don’t want your items, don’t expect them to want them in the future.

Evaluate and get appraisals for things you actually think are worth money.  Most of the time what you think is valuable is not worth as much as you think.  Those cleaning out homes later on get crippled by what to do with items that need to be sold.  Or, they may donate or toss items without truly understanding their value.

If you are a loved one working hard to figure out what to let go remember these few tips.

  1. You are not throwing away a person’s life by deciding to let go of their objects.  The memories live on through those who love them, not their stuff.
  2. Keep items that are sentimental to you and fit in with your life.  Don’t rent a storage unit to keep items that don’t have a place in your house.  You will overpay for every item in that unit and you will procrastinate decisions to let go at a high price.
  3. Take pictures of items that mean a lot to you.  You don’t have to have the physical object to remember the memory associated with it.  In fact, it is likely that you already have pictures with many of the furniture, clothing etc. that your loved one cherished throughout the years.
  4. Don’t push your guilt of letting go of items on to someone else.  Forcing friends and family members to take items they do not need is not fair to them either.  Find a place where the items will be wanted and needed.

There is nothing easy about cleaning out a loved ones house.  It is an emotional and physical journey that can bring a family together or tear them apart.  I am happy to hear our participant is having a positive experience in their journey and not adding more items to their own home that do not meet their goals for simplicity.

Happy Organizing,


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