Admit it, you have that pile of things that need to be mailed or dropped off to a family or a friend. The pile always grows and never seems to disappear. It may be an article in the newspaper that you thought they might like. Or it may be your son’s hand-me-down jeans that you are giving to a friend. We all have that pile. For some of us the pile is small, for others the pile is large and can even be all the contents of your house.

If your pile is small and you get the items to people on a consistent basis, chances are you don’t have a problem. But if you are holding onto things for much longer and the items are much larger, you may need an intervention. Here are some things that I have encountered in my role as a professional organizer and as a mother who holds onto things for her kids.

  • My son may need these dishes when he moves into his first apartment. Yes, I have the dishes in my basement. Son No. 1 has said he doesn’t want them, but why wouldn’t he? They are perfectly good bowls.
  • This set of furniture will be perfect for my niece’s new house. I know that she will be in need of furniture, so I should just hold onto them for her.
  • My daughter will love this family heirloom china someday! The sad reality is someday may never come. I have a beautiful set of china that I registered for when I got married. It really was the only gift that I registered for. I don’t use the china, and in fact, I started using my butter dish as a soap holder in the bathroom just so I could say I use my china. My china’s days are numbered as they will be leaving the house soon to go to someone else’s home to be loved.
  • My grandchildren will love these Precious Moments figurines when I die. Chances are the answer is no. However, my grandmother did have a set of tiny porcelain animals that were on the top of her door frame in her living room, and I would have loved to have gotten those when she passed.

So my advice is if you are holding onto something to pass on, ask yourself a few simple questions:

1. Have they expressed interest in the item? This does not mean a passing comment like “this is a comfy couch.” They should say things like “I love this! When you are tired of it, I would love to take it off your hands!”

2. Have you asked? If you are not sure of the answer to question No. 1, simply ask.

3. Accept the answer. This is an important piece of advice you need to take to heart – don’t let your feelings get hurt. Remember, it is just stuff. Their memories with the stuff may not be the same, so there may not be the same attachment to the item.

I see my grandmother’s hands when I use the pepper grinder she used. My children never met her, so they do not have the same memories. It means something to me and not to them, and I am OK with them not wanting the pepper grinder.

4. Do you have room to store the items? We don’t always have the space, and we could live a simpler life if we let go of those things we are storing for someone. Do you plan on downsizing and need to hold onto these items for someone? Or worse yet, do you have an offsite storage unit?

5. How fast can you get it out of your house? The sooner the better. I challenge people to call the niece who wants that couch and say, you have a week, come and get it or it is going to a donation site. When people have a deadline, you will see action. Without a deadline, people will take advantage of the situation and keep dragging their feet.

So I challenge you this week to look at what you are holding onto. Can you get these items out of your house and start to live a simpler life?

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