Why my children don't want my stuff

Nup, your kids probably don't want your kitschy dog figurines.

One of the humbling things about having children is realising just how little they are interested in the life I had before them. I guess I kind of expected they’d be hanging on every word of every story I told them about my own growing up years, but their reaction is more along the lines of, “Oh Mum, you’ve told us that story before,” followed by a yawn. I’m exaggerating a little bit, but the point is made: my kids are more interested in living their own lives than reliving mine.

The same applies to clutter. With the exception of a (very) few selected objects, my children are not going to be interested in keeping my stuff when I die or move into a smaller home. The things I think I could be saving for them or for my potential grandchildren just aren’t going to be loved like I love them.

Lots of people keep clutter because they feel sentimental towards it. It reminds them of a family member or a special occasion in their lives. They imagine that future generations may also feel sentimental towards it, but I would imagine that in 90 per cent of cases they are wrong. Antique shops are full of stuff from deceased estate sales which surviving family members clearly didn’t want.

At a writers workshop last month I was telling someone that I write a column about decluttering. Another workshop member came over to listen.

“I’ve got too much stuff,” she said. “When we moved house we had to get one with a big enough garage for all my boxes of things.”

“Are you going to get rid of it?” I asked her.

“I’m attached to it,” she said. “But I can see that it will be a big pain for my children to clean up when I get old and pop off.”

For my own children, I think I’ll work on a book. I’ll take pictures of the things I love and write down the memories of the special times in my life and in our family. They can each have a copy – one item to sit on their shelves. Then I’ll keep decluttering so that when my time here comes to an end, the sorting of possessions will not be such a burden for the ones I leave behind.