Parents and Decluttering

decluttering concept, storage boxes to sort between objects

Want your parents to declutter?

This is my most asked question as a professional organiser!

Whenever someone discovers that I help people to declutter their home, usually their next response is “My parents need you. How do I get them to declutter?”

Here are some tips to help nudge your parents in a decluttering direction.

  1. Start with your own stuff. When I sorted through our home, I removed 250 black sacks worth of stuff! It was incredible. It changed our lives. Every room can be easily tidied and so mess is no longer a stress! My mum and mother-in-law come to visit every few months. At first my mother-in-law kept asking “Where have you put everything?” It took her a while to realise I had de-owned it all. But once they could see the tangible difference to our lives, they wanted to declutter too. So try starting with your own home, to enable others to see the benefit decluttering makes to your life.
  2. Talk to them about your concerns. Start by saying something positive to them such as:

 “I want you to be really comfortable in your home. Perhaps you would be more comfortable if we sorted through and organised some of your things.”

You could even take it up a notch by saying:

“I’m really concerned with how full the house is and when you are gone a great burden is going to fall on me.”

I know that might sound a bit dark, but most parents don’t want to be a burden on their children. Approaching it in those terms, might help them to realise that they do have a lot of possessions and the time to start sorting through them is now.

  • Be patient and understanding. It has literally taken them a lifetime to accumulate all of their things. So it will take them time to de-own their things too.  Celebrate the small wins. A bag of paraphernalia removed is still a bag removed! And remember that post war generation were raised to ‘make do and mend’. Nothing was thrown away. So be gentle and empathic, celebrating the small wins.
  • Ask what their dreams are for their home. Is there a space or room in the home that they wished to be different and how. Perhaps they have a spare room that has become a dumping ground and they what they really want is a craft room, a snug or a welcoming guest room. Then you can start to talk about making their dream a reality by decluttering.

Starting is always the hardest part, but try and keep persevering.

I really hope these tips help. Keep in mind that the older someone gets the harder it will be. I work with a lot of elderly people who are downsizing and most people, wish they had kept less and decluttered more.

Let me know your stories of parents, in-laws and decluttering.

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