In lieu of presents for Christmas 2012 my children each gave me five hours of labor. For weeks I stewed over the best way to use those precious hours. Then I asked myself this question: with empty-nestdom approaching, what could I do with that time to that would have the most impact on my new life. The answer was obvious.
Clean the attic.
Okay, that may not seem like an obvious win at first, but let me explain. The kids are leaving home. But they haven’t established permanent homes of their own yet. They live in shared spaces with an ever-changing parade of roommates. They want only what they need today, because like most college kids they live entirely in the present. That high school yearbook, those favorite novels and toys, mean nothing. When I talk about repurposing their old rooms, they say with absolute certainty, “I don’t care about that stuff anymore. Just throw it out.”
But one day they’ll settle down in homes of their own and they may feel differently. What then?
“Mom, I can’t believe you got rid of my baseball card collection!”
“Mom, how could you sell all my Legos? I wanted to pass those on to my kids.”
“Hey, Mom, whatever happened to my…”
You get the drift.
So I gathered my trio together and used my five hours of labor gift to clean the attic. Three van loads hauled off to the charity store and an embarrassing number of filled trash cans later, the attic was empty. What remained were five clearly labeled boxes per child of things I had a suspicion they might want again someday. We assigned each child their own corner of the attic. Finally, as insurance against any future exclamations of, “Oh Mom, you didn’t give that away, did you!” we made sure we had photo evidence of their presence during the process.
As time passes, hubby and I may eventually turn their rooms into a home gym, an office, or guest rooms. And we won’t need to wait for them to come and claim their stuff before we can do it. That stuff can simply join the stuff already in the appropriate attic corners. There it can sit, out of our way, patiently waiting for the day the kids have permanent homes of their own.
I can almost hear you thinking, “You’re delusional. That plan is doomed. Attics are catchalls and as time goes by those neatly labeled boxes in their separate corners will be lost beneath a jumble of new things added to storage.
Won’t happen. And I’ll tell you why. Next week.
In the meantime, do you find yourself storing things for people who no longer live with you and where do you put those things?