Updated: Feb 12, 2019
My parents turned my bedroom into a guest room and they want me to get rid of my stuff but I live in a small apartment without much space and the stuff means a lot to me. What do I do?
First of all, that sucks and I’m sorry. I’m going to guess that most of the ‘stuff’ left in your parent’s home falls under the heading of ‘memorabilia.’ The tendency in this scenario is to come at the problem saying ‘my memorabilia means everything to me and I’m not getting rid of any of it!’ I get that but I’m going to push back against it.
Something I see often is grouping like items together in a category, when they’re actually only tangentially related. I’m going to guess that if you were honest about it, you like some of the memorabilia more than the category as a whole. If we looked at your stuff on a 10-point scale – 10 being the best piece of your childhood, A+ stuff, and a 1 being something you don’t know why you have, you’d realize that not everything in the memorabilia category is actually a 10.
I’m going to make the argument that if the memorabilia amounts to 5 boxes, and you focused on keeping only the very best, it would be reasonable to say that the stuff you love most could fit into 1 box. Parkinson’s Law states: "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." Similarly, stuff expands so as to fill the container available for its storage. If you physically have one box available to house your memorabilia, your memorabilia will take up one box. It’s a way to police yourself and it works. And for the items you like but can’t fit, take a photo and keep it as a memory.
Now let’s talk about your horrible parents. Kidding! A few years ago, I was told that next time I came home, I was to either take my stuff with me or donate it. And you know what? It was a valid request. I love my parents, they have done everything for me but their home is not my storage locker. Your parents deserve to use their space for themselves.
That being said, this is not a black and white issue and there are always compromises to be made. What do you think your parents would say if you asked for them to hold onto the 1 box of memorabilia you have created? Would that be more reasonable than the 5 you started with? While I have cleared out the vast majority of my stuff from my parent’s home, I have kept a box of memorabilia at the bottom of a closet, which doesn’t bother them and helps me out.
When it comes to parents storing items for their children, there are two very important questions that need to be answered: how long does it need to be stored (there should be an end date)? And what is it? Problems arise when a parent’s home is considered storage free for all and children use it for anything and everything.
I hope this was helpful! If you do the work to separate the good from the great, you’ll find that the stuff you can’t bear to part with will always have a place.
Tori the Organizer
Once a month I will be answering reader’s questions in my AMA (ask me anything) series. If you have a question you’d like answered, feel free to email me at email@example.com or comment on my any of my social media - @toritheorganizer
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