7 Tips to Declutter Mom and Dad’s House

7 Tips to Declutter Mom and Dad's House on NWISeniors.comDeclutter projects are time consuming and often stressful!  But decluttering someone else’s home, like your parents’, is often emotionally and physically exhausting.  If you need to declutter a home, read on for 7 tips to make your project easier, efficient, and less stressful!

When my parents passed away, I inherited their “stuff”.  Suddenly, my son and husband were moving in decades of pictures, dishes, furniture, old year books, and trinkets my parents held for years.  My basement and garage became a storage area for sentimental “stuff”.

Several years later, I have my parents’ stuff under control.  Granted, there are more decluttering opportunities that I will tackle in time.  But the open spaces are growing, and the dumpsters and donation trips have paid off.

Many adult children can’t afford or don’t want to pay someone to declutter their parents’ home.  Keep in mind, that a do-it-yourself home clean-out can take up to 9 months on average.  But it can be done.  All you need is a good plan.

7 Tips for Your Do-It-Yourself Declutter Plan

Tip #1.  Sort first and only once.  When my mother passed away in 2001, my father delayed sorting her items.  Understandably so, he was grieving the loss of his love of 49 years of marriage.  But when the day came to accept and move on, he recruited me to help.  We sorted mom’s items together and it helped with the grieving.

Tip #2.  Label as you sort.  The best tip here is to buy stickers or post-it notes in four different colors for sticky notes on desk, declutter, organizelabeling.  Use one color for keep items, one for donation items, one for sell items, and one for discards.

Tip #3.  Don’t let your parents help!  I know this is contrary to tip number one, but the story continues about helping my dad.  Once the sorting was done and we both agreed what to discard and donate, I got to work.  I sent my dad upstairs to rest and I started putting the discard items in heavy contractor bags.  I moved from room to room downsizing as we agreed.  Discard, donate, keep was my mantra!

Don't Let Parents Help with Declutter Projects, seniors, picturesAs I was almost done, I heard some noise in the main area of the basement.  To my surprise, my dad was taking items out of the discard bags and neatly arranging them on the shelves!  My dad was deaf since he was 2 so I tapped him on the shoulder and asked what he was doing.  He said, “she wanted me to keep these things”.  In my mind, I thought really?  Mom wanted you to keep this hot pink and lime green latch hook wall hanging that we made as kids?  Uh, no!  I took a deep breath and placed a smile on my face and signed to my father that he needed to go back upstairs and let me finish the task.  I gave him the latch hook wall hanging and sent him on his way.  The truth is that your decluttering work may take a lot longer than 9 months if you let your parents help!

Tip #4.  Recruit the right kind of help.  Depending on the amount of stuff you need to declutter, you may need to recruit some help.  But use caution that your helpers are as dedicated to decluttering and downsizing as you are.  Avoid asking anyone who cannot part with the memories.  Teenage sons are great for declutter projects!  They can lift heavy items and they’re usually not too emotionally attached to the “stuff”!

Tip #5.  Declutter in small chunks.  If you live near your parents’ home, schedule your project over time.  Avoid rushing the job or delaying it until you have to like when you must sell the home.  Life always presents challenges when you least expect it and completing the decluttering over time allows you to handle your responsibilities while completing the project.

Tip #6.  Schedule pickups at the onset of the project.  If you plan to donate items to local charities or churches, schedule pickups early.  Many nonprofit organizations use volunteers and have waiting lists for pickups.  Calling early ensures your pickup will be timely and may keep you accountable to stay on schedule with your decluttering project.

Tip #7.  Start when you are ready.  Decluttering and downsizing a home full of memories too soon may be counterproductive.  If you are angry or resentful, you may discard items of value, sentimental and monetary.  If you’re not ready, you may want to keep too much, and you’ll have to go through the process again.  Take time to manage your emotions before starting your project so you only need to do it once.

These 7 do-it-yourself declutter tips are based on years of personal and professional experience.  My hope is that you find these tips helpful to make your project easier and less stressful.  And that it doesn’t take you 9 months or longer!

If you’re selling a house in Northwest Indiana and need help with a declutter project, Collins Realty Group can help.  Call Georgene today at 219-315-6569.

For more tips on real estate, aging-in-place, and not outliving your money, request a copy of our free book, The Northwest Indiana Guide for Seniors.