At some point, most people have to clean out their parents' home. It might be that Mom or Dad is going to be moving in with another family member or relocating to a nursing home. Another possibility is that you have recently lost your parent. Whatever the case is, cleaning out a home that is bursting with decades of memories can be not only exhausting, but also emotionally difficult. Read on for some tips on getting through the process.
Don't think that you will be able to get through your parents' home all on your own. Even if your mother or father is still able to help, chances are good that you will need more strong adults to help move furniture. In addition, your parent might find it too difficult to make the decisions to let go of certain items; in this case, an impartial helper can help.
The obvious solution is to gather your siblings, cousins and others in the family who can help. You should also consider asking a friend or two to assist with the decision-making process. There are also professional organizers who specialize in relocating senior citizens or helping to clear out an estate after the death of its owner; consider reaching out for this type of help if you think you need it.
Consider the "4 Boxes" System
If you are clearing out the home with your parent, it's helpful to have a method in mind. Forbes.com recommends the "4 boxes" approach: You will need a collection of boxes, a permanent marker or stickers, and a place to store the boxes once they're full. You'll be separating items into four categories: heirlooms to keep and pass on later, items to keep for now, items to be appraised and sold, and items that can be donated.
Call a Thrift Shop
There will likely be many items that can be given away out of your parents' home. Instead of trying to cart it all to the appropriate charities, you may be able to call your area thrift shops for a pickup. Some will come only for certain items, and others will come for any quantity of belongings. Be sure to ask for a receipt so you or your parents can deduct the value of the items from your taxes at the end of the year.
Rent a Dumpster or Call Junk Removal Services
If you are cleaning out your late parents' home, you might find that they had saved many items that are well past their prime. If this is the case, renting a dumpster or calling in a junk removal service might ease a lot of your burden. If you rent a dumpster, you will need to find out which items can be safely and legally thrown away. This may depend on your state or town; some local laws may prohibit you from tossing a mattress, appliances or electronics into a dumpster, for example.
Usually a junk removal service will handle most or all items that you don't want. This can be a good way to go if you need to remove large, bulky items, or if you have a lot of old appliances and electronics that need to be taken away. You can discover more about junk removal services by following the link in this sentence.
When cleaning out a parent's home, whether because your parent is downsizing or because they have passed away, it's important to be gentle to both yourself and your other family members. It's an emotionally overwhelming process in many cases. If you are having trouble coping, calling in a professional to handle the bulk of the work may be the best course of action.