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"How do I find the balance of saying YES and NO to my parents as they downsize their home and ask me to take items?”  This common question comes from adult children who are helping their parents right-size or downsize their homes. 

The adult child's question about a balance of YES and NO frequently follows a time of saying: “I can’t take any more of your stuff, Mom!” (See YOUR DOWNSIZING CAN’T BE MY UPSIZING)

Although “upsizing” was not their goal, two friends offer their wisdom about taking more-than-less as they help their parents downsize.

One person has been firm but polite with her father that she could not take more than a few of her Dad's items to her home and garage. Over and over again, the adult daughter repeated that neither she nor her children needed Dad's items. Eventually, the items went out the door earmarked for charity. Although the daughter achieved her goal of not upsizing her own home, she felt as though she had let her Dad down. It would have been a kindness that would have meant so much to her father had she taken more items. The daughter realized that the work of disposing of the items was less difficult than her own emotional regret of how she had handled this situation. Now she is quick to advise her friends to not be as hard-nosed as she had been.

Another person found that it was just easier to take some of his parents’ practical stuff such as extension cords, everyday glassware, small appliances and tools with a “Sure Mom, I can take that”. Those items that he did not need were dropped off at Habitat for Humanity or another charity on the son's way home from visits with his parents. None of these items were ones that his parents would look for when they came to visit him. His parents were products of the Depression and scarcity of the 1930s, and had a huge struggle to let go of practical items that they no long need. Their son decided one way to provide support during his parents’ stressful move was to say “Yes”. 

Food for thought in our spring cleaning and as we support older family members and friends in their downsizing.  Where is our heart as we find balance in saying YES and NO? Perhaps — sometimes — we just need to say “Yes” even if this means a little more work for us later!