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Empty Nesters: How to Avoid Becoming Your Adult Child’s Storage Unit

Date : Mar 11,2014
By : Marlena Stoddard

Go ahead and breathe that big sigh of relief that’s been waiting for release. Your last child has been packed off to college and you and your partner are officially empty-nesters. Finally, you can devote your time to new hobbies, traveling, or whatever else you’ve always wanted to do. Except–uh-oh–one of your children has dropped by or called asking a favor. “Mom, Dad, can I keep my car (or my laundry, or my other assorted stuff) at your place for a few days?” You say yes because grown or not, the supplicant is still your precious chickie. Except then a few days turns into a week, then a month, then six months, the stuff is still at your place, and your nest is cluttered again. There must be a way to teach the kids that once they’re out of your house, they can’t use it as a storage space, you think. Fortunately, there is.

Step 1: Help Them Learn to Budget

One reason an adult child may store his or her stuff at your house is because he or she has accumulated more things than anticipated. Before they leave, teach your children to budget. Many schools no longer teach basic money matters in math classes, so John and Jane will look to you. If you have good budgeting skills, it’s more likely your kids will do the same.

Step 2: Shop Around

Ask if you can come when your child shops for a bedroom suite, a kitchen table, or other items. Then make notes together on how much room their new place has. Suggest they make ample room for favorite items. For example, if your child is a big reader, suggest an investment in a big bookcase so you don’t end up with paperbacks on your floors.

Step 3: Encourage Them to Downsize

Yes, your son may be attached to his home gym equipment. But if you don’t have the space for it and neither does he, it might be time for him to get a gym membership or start biking around the neighborhood. Your daughter may want another kitten, but if she already has two and you know you’ll end up storing the food, dissuade her.

Step 4: Get the Rest Out of Your House

Your home might be a convenient place for your children to keep their belongings, but they need to find a better solution that doesn’t crowd up your spare rooms. If you show your child how to find a deal on a storage unit, you could save yourself some headache while teaching them responsibility. If your child is like most young adults they probably have student loans to pay off, and might not be able to afford a storage unit. To save some money you could just move all of their extra belongings into the back yard storage shed. Storage sheds in New York ( can be relatively inexpensive ways to store your extra stuff, and are still useful once your child finally does move all of their old things out of your home.

Your nest should always be a safe place for adult kids to fly back to. However, this doesn’t mean it has to hold all the worms, nuts, and seeds they’ve accumulated. These steps can help keep everyone de-cluttered and happy.