The new year is a good time for a clean start, isn't it? I know the popular term is spring cleaning and usually done in…spring. But for those of us in the Sandwich Generation, any time we have a couple of free days and a willing helper, it's a perfect time to do some weeding and decluttering.
Thus, last week found me and a loved one at my storage unit working through box after box of photos, letters I've received over the years, copies of letters I sent over the years (a great way of keeping a "journal" of your life), dishes, home decoration, and old (really old) receipts. We spent hours, two days in a row, going through everything in the storage unit. Then I spent even more hours at home, weeding through the boxes and bags we brought home with us.
The end result was 15 boxes of unnecessary paperwork shredded, several boxes of items donated, two boxes of sweet memories to share with others and a few boxes of forgotten but important items to keep in my office.
It was a time full of laughter, a few tears, tons of fun memories and being reminded by God that "our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…" It was difficult, cathartic, and freeing – all at the same time. The nice thing was I got to be the one to do it, just as my folks had been able to do as well.
It was a gift to me AND a gift for my kids and grandkids. I really appreciated that same gift from my senior parents and I'm so glad I am passing that gift on to my own kids. (We won't mention my attic, which is the next project on my "Spring Cleaning" list.)
If your senior parents have a lot of memorabilia, bills, and other items stored, and are in good health, you might ask if they would like help de-weeding and de-cluttering. It's definitely easier and more fun with good company. But, of course, we have to be sensitive to their feelings. It took me years to be ready to do this. I've heard such sad stories of families who have gone in and totally weeded out items as a "surprise gift" for elderly parents – leaving many devastated hearts in the process. As with so many of the Sandwich Generation issues, this is another one that requires kid gloves and walking carefully on the tight wire balanced between helping and hurting our beloved seniors.
Even if you only weed out a couple of boxes, as my loved one and I did a couple of years ago, that's definite progress. Even just talking about it can be a "seed" planted for the future.
How about you and your aging parents? Have you ever decluttered together? How did it go?