Do you have children going off to school for the first time? Do you have recent college grads who use your house as a storage locker? Do you have fully grown children who STILL use your house as a storage locker?

This can be some of the hardest organizing to tackle. Your children’s old belongings are special to you, and even if they haven’t opened those boxes in years, you can bet they will give you a hard time if you throw anything away!

Here are a few ideas about how to best sort through what is left behind!


If your child is about to leave for this first time, this can be a good way to spend quality time together. Disguised as a responsibility, sorting through old boxes together can be a lot of fun and cathartic for a young adult who is setting off for the first time. This is also a good reason to have your adult children over for an afternoon and share some memories while also getting things accomplished.

And most people I know don’t like to say ‘toss it’ with out at least taking a look, so unless they are there with you, chances are those boxes will remain where they are.

So pick a date and pull everything out!


18 years is a long time and we all have a lot of stuff. Chances are most of it can be thrown away, but personal attachment is the reason it was saved in the first place. So if you don’t want to get stuck in once place you need to have a system.

I like to use 3 bins. One bin for KEEP, one for DONATE and one for TRASH. Yes it is ok to keep things, just be limited and organized about it. If you aren’t ready to donate maybe you can have a yard sale!



I think that selling your belongings is a really great way to let go. For most it’s not even about the money, if your children have old clothes or toys that they loved but can get rid of, it helps to feel like they are going to a good home not just being dumped.

Yard sales are also really great for communities and the environment. Price things low, make some signs and invite your neighbors. You will be surprised how fun this can be!


If you and your kids find that you had a bunch of half organized boxes of the same types of things then make some labels.


If you have a designated location for these items, new ones will be less likely to get misplaced in the future.


There are so many great ways to repurpose your old belongings. It can be as simple as finally putting your photos into an album. There are many ways to turn these items into fun things that you see everyday instead of just sitting in storage.

Here are a few ways to repurpose old things:
-Make a quilt using old tee shirts or sweatshirts.
-Transfer your old home VHS movies into a digital form as gifts for the whole family.
-Make a creative scrap book for each of you children.
-Make decorations out of unexpected objects!
-Or make cute storage items.

For more ideas check out our repurposing page on Pinterest!

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