Sandwiched Between Stuff: 7 Ways to Help Parents Declutter to Rightsize

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After living in a home for decades, a home can become packed with items connected to memories, amazing moments, and life events. When you visit your parents, you are more likely to notice the accumulation of items from 30, 40 or 50 years ago while they may not notice it. It’s possible they have become “clutter blind” since these items are associated with memories and moments. You are sandwiched between their belongings and your own. 

If you want to help your parents let go of some of their clutter so they can leap into the next season of their lives, we have 7 steps to get you started.


1.       Discuss the need for decluttering and rightsizing into the right space.

  • Approach the subject with patience and respect.
  • Acknowledge the benefits of decluttering and rightsizing.
  • Decide what the goals will be for decluttering and the time it will take to complete the task. 

2.       Create a realistic timeline for completing your decluttering process

  • Talk to your parents about a schedule to minimize their belongings with you or your family’s help.
  • Walk through each room and decide if it is easier to declutter by category of items or room-by-room.
  • Come to an understanding that some items may be easy to declutter while other items will take more time, patience and thought.

3.       Create rules for what stays and what goes.

  • Always dispose of broken or outdated items that are no longer useful or functional.
  • Be willing to get rid of multiples and worn items.
  • Consider reducing their inventory of seasonal décor, especially if there are multiples of items.

4.       Identify items your parents need, want, and love.

  • Have an open discussion about what items are necessities for everyday life.
  • Decide which items are loved and should be kept after essential or needed items are identified.
  • From the list of “loved” items, decide which items are more of a want than love.

5.       Remove items from the home beginning with those attached to the least emotions.

  • Discard items like old bills, canceled or voided check, spoiled food, expired medications, torn or damaged clothes.
  • Reduce the amounts of linens and clothing that are multiples or the wrong size.
  • Sort through more emotional items last in the process with the patience to enjoy walks down memory lane. 

6.       Identify charities your family loves that will accept the items you decide to donate. Here’s a few ideas:

  • Homeless Shelters – Linens, toiletries, some clothing items
  • Shelters for battered women – linens, toiletries, clothing, toys, furniture
  • Animal Shelters – Towels, pet related items
  • Thrift Stores – Clothing, shoes, furniture, accessories
  • Food Pantry – Canned goods or boxed items (Great way to donate food from pantry’s of parents who no longer cook.)

In all of the cases above it’s important to know what your favorite charity needs and will accept. Be sure to contact them for a list as each charity’s need is different. 

7.       Use this time to bond and share history.

  • Take the task of decluttering one moment at a time since this may be an emotional process for your parent/parents.
  • Remember to use each moment as a way to share heritage and family history.
  • Share stories, laughter, and enjoy the company of your parents and family members. 

Need a few extra hands for the decluttering process? Contact us! We’d love to help you host an online estate sale.



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