My name is Melissa Belliard, and I am one of the Professional Organizers at Living Peace. I have one child (well, young adult of 20) who moved out of the house 2 years ago, and one child on his way to college this fall, so I now qualify as an Empty-Nester in Progress. For those of you in this stage of life, you may be able to relate to the bittersweet feelings of having some of your own life back while trying to figure out what your new role as parent is supposed to be, and missing your child (but perhaps not the accompanying teenage angst/attitude!).
As I look around my emptying house, I see a space that once served as an oasis for my family. The sports equipment is piled up around my basement, the music paraphernalia (how did we get 2 keyboards?!) spread throughout the living and sleeping spaces, boxes of schoolwork, artwork, awards, concert and theater playbills tucked in the nooks and crannies. It’s organized in the sense that I know what and where it all is, but will I be needing some of it any longer, and how many art projects do I really need to hang on to? Sentimental clutter can be some of the most challenging items to part with, and despite my organizing background, I still struggle with it.
Over the next few months, I will be exploring ways for an empty nester to organize their home and time as they transition from full-time parent to part-time, and their children move out (and maybe return, as this seems to be a trend in the past decade, if not longer). I would love to hear from you if you are in this situation, and what challenges you might be facing (are you moving? Downsizing? How has meal planning changed? Can Caitlin’s old room double as a guest room now but still be welcoming to her on college breaks?).
One of my favorite organizing tips is not really a tip, but a question. I first heard this from Peter Walsh: “Are the best times with your children behind you, or ahead of you?” This powerful question is helping me to let go of the physical remembrances of my kids, and embrace what is to come. Please join me on my journey of exploration and freedom.
Image: Hotblack/ www.morguefile.com