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Decluttering For Your Empty Nest Life

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Declutter your empty nest

This may be an unpopular opinion but so far I am really enjoying Empty Nest Life. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids! I miss their smiles, laughter and banter on a daily basis. And when their college breaks are approaching I get excited about a house full of family. But as it turns out, this transition to post-children life has been easier than I anticipated. I enjoy filling the time left by the kids’ absence with activities that are more self-centric. I am more present to enjoy the company of my husband. And I feel the freedom to transition our home out of the ‘Raising Kids’ era and into this new season of empty-nesting.

Any life transition is an opportunity to declutter. Moving out of the insanely busy and stressful season of raising kids into a more peaceful, slower-paced existence means that we need less stuff. My oldest just turned 24, that’s a lot of years of accumulation. Even though I’ve always been a proficient declutterer I still find things hanging around that nobody has touched in years. As I clear the clutter, bit by bit, I’m struck with new ideas for how to remake our home to fit our Empty Nest Life.

Seasonal Stuff

declutter the board games you don't play anymore

You may think ‘this isn’t for me, I donated all our toys and baby stuff years ago.’ Please read on! One concept that I use with clients all the time is the idea that everything we own has a season. There are, of course, some things that last throughout several seasons (furniture is a good example.) But acknowledging when something you own has passed its season makes decluttering so much easier (and faster!) Now, I acknowledge there are some things whose season has passed that you will choose to keep for sentimental reasons (topic for another post) but let’s put those aside for the moment.

I’m talking about things that were part of the landscape of your home for years. They were so ubiquitous that you don’t even notice them when you look around. But they definitely are now Out Of Season.

Sports equipment is a perfect example. Our 3 kids were active growing up. They played multiple sports, some adopted for years, some abandoned early.  They rode bikes, hopped on pogo sticks and jumped on a trampoline that my husband insisted on getting one Christmas.  As they got older, their focuses narrowed down, but the Sports equipment area in our mudroom never did. It was still full of bike helmets, baseball bats and those damn pogo sticks. The season for that stuff was definitely over, but I hadn’t noticed even though I passed by that area on a daily basis.

Another example is board games. For 24 years we accumulated board games. It didn’t seem like we went overboard but 24 years is a long time! The funny thing is we are not really a board game family. The kids liked ‘Sorry’ and our go-to game is Uno (which this organizer LOVES because it takes up no space!) So why exactly are we keeping all of these games that are past their season? No reason except that through this new filter I could see there was a better way to use the space those games were taking up.

Today’s Season

There is one exciting thing about recognizing all the things in your house that are off-season and not relevant to Empty Nest Life. It’s how much space letting go of them frees up for the things that are important today. When you shed the old season stuff the ideas really start flowing!

I am really into hosting holidays and I have a lot of entertaining-related things that were all literally stuffed into a console. Once I decluttered our board games and puzzles, as well as the huge collection of throw blankets we had amassed over the years, I had room to neatly organize my table linens and make them more accessible.

I am not really a collector of things with one exception: a huge collection of glassybabies. Glassybabies are beautiful hand-blown glass votives that serve as my seasonal decor and switch out several times a year. The colors that were out of rotation were scattered around the house until I decluttered a cabinet that had been the home for misc art supplies that were way past their season. I kept the sharpies and stamps that we use for making place cards. Then I ditched the boxes of crayons, colored pencils, glue sticks, kid scissors and markers. I then had a whole cabinet to house the out-of-rotation glassy babies which are very relevant to my empty-nest life today.

Hard Working to Relaxing

Decluttering brings a sense of freedom

When we are raising kids it’s important that our homes work hard for us because everything is so hectic, trying to keep your head above water is the priority. We made purchases swiftly because of urgency, it’s no wonder that the stuff piled up the way it did. Now that the kids are in the process of leaving the nest, the frantic pace of life that came with the job of raising them is no longer a factor. It allows for more intention in decision-making: what you buy, in what manner you use space, and how to create a relaxing home. Decluttering your empty nest is a huge piece of that transformation and will even inform the decisions you make.

If you are missing your kids and feeling ambivalent about Empty Nest Life, decluttering may be a path out of the rut. The cleansing feeling of a new beginning comes from letting go of the past, even as you cherish that season in your life. Like I said, I love and miss my kiddos but am embracing the virtual parenting that comes with the Empty Nest Life.

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