Have you ever thought of involving your grandchildren in decluttering or downsizing? We all ‘collect’ stuff over the years. And sometimes, the more space we have, the more we hide away in unused spaces. Out of sight, out of mind! When it comes to moving or simply decluttering our spaces, we suddenly find things long forgotten. And while some items are no longer useful or don’t bring us joy, I have learnt that they may bring others happiness and provide a legacy for younger generations. It is wonderful to know that your children or grandchildren have value for the things you give them and will treasure them as you did at one time.
Case in point, I live in a two-storey house with a finished basement, 3 bedrooms, and a garage filled with boxes containing all kinds of things collected over my lifetime. All closets are brimming with all kinds of ‘retro’ clothing spanning decades. I call it retro because I have not fit into some of the clothes in those closets since the 1970s.
I have not parted with my old ‘treasures’ for several reasons. One is that I might fit into some of them again one day – I keep hoping those prized articles of clothing from my disco days will fit again and be back in style. Apparently, according to my granddaughter, one of those statements is true! Disco wear is back, and from her perspective, it doesn’t matter if it is a little too big.
On one particular weekend, I discovered that my grandchildren love the idea of old clothes because of the new ‘young’ trend of ‘thrifting’ that has become popular with teenagers and young adults, especially those concerned about our planet and sustainability. Many love the idea of finding something unique that no one else has and enjoy visiting their parents, or grandparents’ closets to uncover items from years gone by.
I wasn’t planning on decluttering my house, but I had my grandchildren over, one thing led to another, and a full-blown archeological expedition ensued.
My granddaughter decided to ‘dig for treasures' in an organized fashion, so she could ensure she missed nothing and had ‘first dibs’ on whatever she found of value. She decided to start from the top of the house and work her way down to the basement. She persuaded her brother to help her carry her stash.
She found sweaters, jackets (she and I both loved the leather jacket she unearthed - I was thinner then and have fond memories of wearing it), purses, and costume jewelry. The large hoop earrings were apparently a special find. My grandson found an old stamp collection (which I started when I was twelve years old), rock concert t-shirts, and other ‘cool’ items that his sister rejected. You would think that they found real treasures with all the laughter floating through the house.
Excitement grew as the day wore on, especially when they hit the jackpot. My grandson uncovered a record player and records (another thing that went out of style with tape recorders but came back in style now that we have digital music). This is quite amazing since those of us who grew up in that era value the fact that you don’t have to get up to flip sides every 6 songs! Both were excited and interested to know how to play the records.
The music was from decades gone by, and he even found a record I had forgotten I had by Marilyn Monroe. My grandson continued browsing and found a cassette player, a transistor radio and a rotary telephone. Treasures indeed, which may be in the Smithsonian one day if they aren’t already. (If I only kept my first Apple computer!) In the meantime, my granddaughter was looking at the boxes of old photographs focusing on ones of her mother as a young girl (kids never believe their parents were once their age) and other family pictures of people she hadn’t met but were part of her history.
A full day indeed – one that exhausted them but provided endless joy and a collection of my treasures, which were now theirs to take home.
This was a fantastic way to get rid of the things I no longer needed or wanted while making sure they went to the next generation that values them and will use them.
For those of you looking to downsize or pare down possessions, consider this: ask the kids for help. Offer them the opportunity to go through your treasures first, and then have a garage sale with what’s left and allow them to split the proceeds. It’s far better to allow them to choose their ‘gifts’ that they will use and remember you for, rather than giving them things they will never use and don’t want. Whatever they don’t want and you don’t need or want, allow them to make some money by running the sale. Whatever is left can go to an organization that accepts donations.
Another tip for gifting to loved ones: if there are things that are special to you, but you do not have room for or use for, and there are family members who want them, pass them along but take photos so you can ‘visit’ the items whenever you want. When you visit their homes, ask them to see the place of honour they have given their gift. It will make you feel good knowing your special things have a good home. When you gift them the items, take the time to share stories of why a certain item is special, when it was used, and how you got it. It’s a win for everyone and gives you special time with children and grandchildren, sharing information about your history that they can share with the next generation.
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