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How to Get Adult Kids to Stop Using Your House as a Storage Unit

Are you ready to declutter your home of your adult kids’ stuff? When the kids first move out, they usually are in a tiny dorm room or apartment, so it’s easy to say you’ll hold onto their stuff until they have the space for it. But what about when they’re a little older, with a larger apartment or even a house, and their stuff is still taking up space?

Your place can’t keep being the free storage unit for your adult kids. Just think of how great it will feel to finally get rid of all that clutter. You may even be holding off on converting their old bedroom into a guest room, an office, or a gym while you wait for them to collect their stuff. If you’re ready to take that next step, use these tips for getting your adult kids to stop using your house to store all their childhood stuff.

Get a Self-Storage Unit

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Image via Shutterstock

When kids move out, your home becomes the de facto storage unit for all the clothes, photos, and other odds and ends they leave behind. Once you start that pattern, it’s very tough to break out of it. That’s why one of the best solutions is to get a storage unit as soon as your kids move out. Move all their stuff to the unit together so that they play a part in seeing their stuff removed from your home. It’s also important to include your kid so that they can weed out the things they no longer want or care to hold on to.

You can help your child out by saying that you’ll pay for it at first, but make sure to set clear limits. Let them know that you’ll pay for the storage unit only until they graduate or move into their first real apartment. Once that happens, remind them of your agreement and give them a month to get everything out. If they really want that stuff after all, they’ll take the initiative to go collect it and store it in their own home.

Phase Out Old Items

If you’ve missed the window to move your adult kids’ stuff into storage, don’t worry. There are other ways to get rid of the items you don’t want. One of the biggest barriers to getting their belongings out of your house is that the project keeps getting put off again and again. You remind them that they need to go through their things and decide what they want to take with them, but the task seems daunting when they’re faced with an entire bedroom of old stuff.

The solution is to start small. Simply set things out little by little each time your adult kid comes over for a visit. Fill a box or two with odds and ends from their collection of stuff. Tell them that they need to sort through the selected items and take what they want. Whatever they leave behind will be donated or dumped in the trash. It might be a little frustrating to do it this way, but your kids will enjoy it more, and you can spend more time reminiscing over the most interesting finds at each visit.

Make a Surprise Drop-Off

If all else fails, you may just want to be a little sneaky about how to get your adult kids to move their stuff out. In fact, you might decide that you just don’t want to wait on them any longer. In this case, it’s time for a surprise visit to your adult kid’s home.

What you’ll need to do first is box up all of their stuff. If the situation has gotten a little out of control, you may even need to rent a moving van. Load up everything your kid has left behind and set out for their house.

If possible, it’s best to arrive when they are not home. This works well if your kid has given you a key to their home or the access code for their garage. Then, you can leave everything inside with a nice note telling them you thought they’d like to have all their stuff back. It can still work if your adult kid is at their house, though. Just let them know that you can no longer store this stuff, so you wanted to bring it to them. While you may be a bit annoyed at having to take things this far, you’ll finally be free of all that junk your kid left behind.

When it comes to adult kids using your house for storage, there’s only so much you can take — and that’s OK! When it’s time to clear out their things, give them a chance to take the initiative, but don’t be afraid to put your foot down if they procrastinate. It’s your home, after all, and if they no longer live there, there’s absolutely no reason you should have to store their things from the past for as long as they like.

About the author

The Storage Queens

We know a thing or two about moving. Together, we share the best tips in organizing, storage, navigating your city, and more!

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