When it comes to downsizing, either through want or necessity, the most challenging part is deciding what to do with all of the “belongings,” like furniture, knick-knacks, kitchenware, pictures (both those that hang on the walls and those that go in albums), and papers. And if these items belong to you, you probably want them to stay in the family. While your relatives may never want all of your belongings, there are things you can do to make the transition out of your house and potentially into theirs go more smoothly.
1. Don’t expect them to take everything of yours – Different people have different tastes, even if they are closely related. What may be incredibly valuable to you may hold no sentimental value to your relatives. No matter how many times you tell the story about a particular item, or how much they enjoy hearing the story, they still may not want it. Sometimes it’s a matter of physical space. If your only child has bought himself one of those tiny homes that are currently so popular, he won’t even take your teacup collection, let alone your baby grand piano. And that’s okay, it doesn’t mean he loves the story, the teacups, the piano, or you, any less.
2. Don’t expect them to take what is theirs – My friend’s mom has boxes full of things that once belonged to her and her siblings. Several of them hold a comic book collection that has yet to be moved in with its rightful owner, despite the fact he hasn’t lived at home for 25 years. Others hold stuffed animals and games their mother kept from their childhood. Contrary to what she thinks, the children are not going to take these items to their respective homes, even though they may have owned them at one point. If you are holding on to your children’s belongings with the assumption they will want them, don’t. Tell them what you have and on what date you will be getting rid of it. If they don’t come get it before then, they will never take it.
3. Pare down your belongings to what matters most to you – More than one child has heard the dreaded phrase, “I’m just going to leave this all for you to sort through.” When someone is faced with a home that is full from top to bottom, everything loses its value, financial or sentimental. They just want everything gone. If you want your loved ones to keep items that are valuable and special to you, clear out the rest of the clutter so they can focus on the important things and appreciate their worth.
4. Provide information about your mementos – Keeping a record of your special belongings may seem morbid, but it really isn’t. Writing down the sentimental or monetary values of certain items will ensure that they are appreciated to their fullest by others. Consider creating a book of your most valuable items with photos and information about each piece.
5. Keep track of who wants what – One of your kids may have expressed particular interest in something of yours even when they were still a child or young adult. Maybe it conjures up memories for them, or they just always found it unique. If you have verbally promised it to them, make it official by putting it in writing or including it in your will. That way they will be free to enjoy it without having potentially uncomfortable discussions with their siblings or other relatives.
Hopefully some of these tips will help your loved ones appreciate some of your belongings as much as you do, and help you realize that their love for you is not diminished if they don’t welcome everything you cherish into their homes.