When I worked with my organizing clients in their homes, I would often hear them say, “I am saving that for my kids (or grandkids)” and I would always challenge them:
- Why are you saving it?
- Have you asked your kids if they really want it?
- Where are you going to keep it?
- How long are you willing to keep it?
One client in particular was saving boxes upon boxes of things for her son- when we finally asked the son (a teenager) if he wanted any of it he said, “NO and I keep telling her that.” First and foremost I would ask your kids, if they are old enough, if they want something special to be kept. (Now many of will argue that they don’t know what they will want and it is safer to keep it for them ‘just in case’. NO let them make that decision.)
Here is a great, real life example that happened to me just recently that showcases why it isn’t always a good idea to keep things with the plans of handing them down to kids/grandkids.
When I was in college (20 years ago) I was a pre-school teacher and had tons of great stuff for kids- music, books, games, play ideas. So I kept most of them for when I might have a child someday. Well., two things have happened.
- My daughter has different taste than I do so many of the things I kept she doesn’t like.
- The stuff I kept is ancient- super old, from the 80’s and so not useful!!!
I kept a ‘boom-box’ because I had several tape cassettes with children’s music on them. Yes for 20 years the boom-box sat in the top of the closet. When I finally had my child I grabbed it out excited to play music- only to have the thing not work (can’t imagine why!) Determined to still make the tape cassettes worth it- I bought ANOTHER boom-box with a tape player on amazon (proof you can find anything online.) It worked great and for several months- she listened to the music and was happy…. until……. the tape cassette broke (again, I wonder why a 20 year old cassette broke?!) So now I am back online looking to replace the tape (because she likes the music) and of course you can get it online in MP3 format or on a CD!
Here is the new boom box I purchased.
Here is the very old tape cassette I kept for 20+ years.
Here it is on Amazon in CD format.
It’s a very simple example, but a true one. Is it worth keeping something for so long for someone who may not want it or that it might not even work?! The tape and boom box were small so it didn’t inconvenience me to keep them, but when they didn’t work it cost me about $55 to replace them!
I am a bit of a hypocrite on this topic however:
My parent’s basement is full of boxes for my brother and I- old toys, clothes, furniture, papers- a jumble of things. [Some of these things are 40 years old. But my parents have always had the space to save them so it wasn’t a huge inconvenience.] When I adopted my daughter last year I did actually go through the boxes and see if there was anything she could use. I pulled out some toys and games and tossed what was gross or she would never use. But my brother (who has 2 older kids) has not been able to get home and to through his boxes so his stuff just sits there…. and sits there…. and sits there……..
Rules for keeping things for kids:
- Ask them if they want to keep it
- Understand it might not work later
- Determine the cost/inconvenience of keeping it for several years
- Don’t be mad if you keep it for years and your kids don’t want it after all
- Be realistic– are you keeping these things in true hopes of having them used by another generation, or are you unwilling to let go of memories and that fact that your children are growing up?
- Don’t save things in hopes they will be worth a fortune some day. Very few things actually become true collectibles that will increase dramatically in value.
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