Organizing Your Empty Nest

young adult with pile of clothes

Empty nests practically scream out for purging and organizing. After many years of collecting stuff – memorabilia, schoolwork, yearbooks, clothes, shoes, etc – your grown kids’ rooms are probably in need of a really good cleaning and sorting.

Organizing Tips for Your Adult Children

Not only are your kids’ rooms ready to be sorted out, but now that you have a bit more free time, it’s likely you will realize that your kitchen cabinets, closets, bathroom cabinets and more could use a good going-through. The positive news is that you don’t have to rush to get organizing done – in fact, taking your time is preferable.

First things first: when they come for a visit, give each of your young adult kids a large plastic bin and let them fill it up with whatever they want to keep. Then put those bins away – whether in a garage, a storage unit, a basement or attic – and start sorting the rest. You need 3 piles: donate, toss, keep. Be ruthless – you can be sure neither you or your kids will miss anything you toss. Chances are if you haven’t looked at it or touched in in a few years, it’s not much use to any of you.

As you are sorting, keep a list of supplies you need to get organized. For example, if you plan on holding on to years worth of your kids class photos, schoolwork, and report cards, an extra large binder and page protectors are a great way to save them. Slide each school year’s photo and report cards in a page protector and place precious mementos – awards, A+ papers, notes, etc – in page protectors also. Use dividers to keep things organized by school year.

An excellent solution to all of the team jerseys, school t-shirts and other logo items that your young adult can’t bear to part with is to have a quilt made. Campus Quilt does a beautiful job of creating a keepsake from those old and outgrown clothes. If you are crafty, you can make one yourself instead of paying someone to do it for you.

For smaller trinkets that are precious, create a memory box (or buy one) to keep on a dresser or bookshelf.

While most of our photos now live on our computers, there are probably printed images that you and your kids want to keep safe and sound. There are lots of options, but be sure to use acid free boxes and albums to preserve the integrity and quality of your photos.

Organizing for You in Your Empty Nest

As for you, it’s likely that your kitchen can use a thorough purging. Do you need all of those wooden spoons? How about the spices that have expiration dates prior to this decade? Or century? Take everything out of the cabinets, toss anything that’s expired, and make another list – this time, of supplies you need to replenish. If you have the room, OXO pop containers are great for storing dry goods and baking products. Use a label maker to identify what’s in each container – you don’t want to confuse the baking powder and baking soda.

Your closet could probably use a little thinning out as well. If you haven’t worn it in a year, toss it or donate it. Take items that don’t fit quite right to a tailor and you’ll wear them more often – get pants shortened, skirts hemmed. Shoes that aren’t comfortable need to go, too.

Go through your medicine cabinets and check expirations on all medications, over-the-counter and prescription. Dispose of any medications that are expired by finding a nearby location to drop off what you no longer can use or are no longer effective.

Making the transition to a happy empty nest includes making your home comfortable for you now that your kids are gone. Don’t be afraid to ask your young adult kids to take part in your purging and organizing – their belongings need to go with them to their new homes if possible, and most likely much of what they have stashed away doesn’t mean much to them anymore. All they need is a little nudge from you to get it done.



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