This is a great article from the Boston Globe that I hope anyone who is planning on downsizing soon and has adult children will read.
I have helped a few clients start the process of decluttering years of possessions in order to sell the home where they raised their family. It’s not an easy process, usually, because there’s a very emotional component at play: keepsakes, heirlooms, collections and other items that mom and dad have been saving under the impression that their children will desire them one day.
What they’re finding out is that the kids might take a piece here and there, but they generally aren’t interested in their grandmother’s doll collection or tea service, or even their own memorabilia from grade/high school.
Blame people like me if you want…blame the minimalist movement in general, but men and women of my generation and younger don’t want as much “stuff”. Belongings that meant a great deal to our parents often don’t have the same level of emotional attachment for us.
Unfortunately, this leads to a lot of bafflement and hurt feelings on the part of the parents…
“I just can’t believe Jimmy doesn’t want all of his Cub Scout projects and memorabilia!”.
“My mother gave me her wedding china…it was so expensive. We never used it growing up. It’s antique, so beautiful. I can’t believe Susie doesn’t want to keep this!”.
I really feel for this generation, who has been living under the weight of all that stuff for all these years and now, when they believe they are about to bestow these gifts upon their children, they get met with a shake of the head and have to watch their treasures get carted off to the Salvation Army or the Goodwill.
I would strongly encourage you, if your kids are grown and you are thinking of downsizing, to please have an open and honest conversation with your kids about any items that they might want to take when you begin the decluttering process. Setting expectations ahead of time will help to mitigate hurt feelings and misunderstandings and may help you begin to disassociate memories and emotions from the belongings that have to go.
I would also encourage you to begin the decluttering process well ahead of time, to ease the discomfort and emotional toll it will take to let go of those items.