Now rather than later!

One of the significant causes of clutter in our society today is the result of my generation collecting and saving items for the next generation – who have no interest. Perhaps it's because they saw how much effort it was for us to pay for it, store it, clean it, insure it, and worry about it. Perhaps it's because they are just more interested in experiences than material things. Whatever the reason, it's a fact in many families.

This reality causes another major problem. Many people of my generation are continuing to live in homes too big for our needs and too much to care for as we age, but that brings up the big question of "What do I do with all the "stuff" I have collected over the years that means so much to me?

As we often say at Productive Environment Institute, "Progress starts with the truth." Recently I heard a beautiful story of how one family faced with this truth solved the problem in a way that was a blessing to everyone.

I went to visit Diana and her husband, who had moved from a beautiful large home into a small two-bedroom apartment. Frankly, I was quite shocked, because I remembered all the beautiful collections they had in their previous home. My immediate question was, "How did you feel about leaving everything behind?"

"It was quite easy," Diana replied. "My daughter approached me with the question 'Mom, what are you going to do with all this stuff?' Well, I replied, "we'll keep it so that you and your children can have whatever you want when we are gone." "Mom," the daughter replied, "we don't want it, and we have an idea."

At first, Diana was taken aback, but she continued to listen to her daughter. "Why don't we help you get rid of everything you no longer want or need now, and you and dad can move into a smaller place which will be easier to care for, and you'll have more freedom to enjoy your lives? Here's how it could work: You choose the sentimental items that you want to keep -- as many as will fit in your master bedroom closet. Then you go to the beach for a week, and we'll sell everything and give you the money to buy new furniture you love for your new place."

Diana and her husband agreed. They found an apartment near the grocery store, which was something she had always wanted! She identified the things that she wanted to keep and selected furniture for their new apartment. Meanwhile, her daughters organized an estate sale.

When the time came, Diana and her husband went to the beach for a week, and when they returned, her daughter handed them a check to pay for the new furniture. "I couldn't have done it if I had had to sell my stuff myself," said Diana, "but the fact that they did it made it easy. And now all my friends want my daughters to do it for them!"

Have you discussed with your children how they feel about the stuff you have collected? As a long-time friend of mine put it so well, "Over-responsibility often becomes irresponsibility." If you are playing the "responsible role" with your stuff, you may be missing the opportunity of living a less-cluttered life and of giving a gift of less stress to your children when you leave this world.

To quote a question my husband often wisely suggests, "Why don't you ask?"

Author's Bio: 

In 1978, Barbara took out a $7 ad in a New York City newspaper to advertise her professional organizer business. For 20 years, she focused her business on organizing paper and physical clutter for home offices and organizations. Then the Internet Age came about, and she utilized her principles and expertise to help clients with digital clutter.

Over the past 40+ years Barbara has helped 1000's of companies, and became an icon and top expert in the industry. She has been featured on national media platforms such as Good Morning America, The Today Show and CNN Nightly News. She has also been showcased in publications including USA Today, New York Times, Fast Company, Reader’s Digest, Real Simple and Guideposts.

Barbara and her team teach business owners a 9-step system to go from overwhelmed to optimized. Step 1 is a free Assessment that can be found at