baby boomer stuff

baby boomer stuff

Here’s a stark reality. Your kids don’t want your stuff. Millennials and GenXers are different than us Boomers. So, my advice. Get rid of it!

Millennials Don’t Want Parents Stuff

I usually don’t even make New Years’ resolutions because one,  I don’t think they work and, two, I usually work on things in my life as they crop up.  But, this year is different, I’m making a resolution for 2013, and it’s spurred by the fact that sometimes you just get slammed in the face with reality. Kids don’t want baby boomer stuff.

Letting Go of Stuff

Maybe it’s the fact that I’m in my 3rd chapter of life.  For all you young mothers, listen up because it’s very likely that you, too, will be facing this reality sometime in your child’s future.  It’s really simple. Your kids are not you!  Simple concept, but how do you really know it.

Parents of Millennials

Oh, yeah, for a while you can influence your kids’ likes and dislikes, their personalities, their emotions, their lives, but if you’re parental goal has been to raise independent, self-thinking, responsible, tax-paying, income-producing, emotionally healthy adult children, like most Mamas and Daddies want to do, then your kid, as a 20+ something year old or sooner, will be him or herself.  It happens when they’re officially off your payroll.  

Millennials Don’t Want Stuff

And, that has consequences for you.  It means they may not follow in your footsteps, like what you like, carry on traditions exactly like you have established among many other things. They’ll alter traditions to their own liking, decorate their nests the way they like it, create their worlds according to their adult minds. You catch my drift, right?  And, you know what else that means?

I urge you first to sit down, take a deep breath, stay calm. Here’s the reality. Ready?  They probably won’t want all the #*%@*#&(@& that you’ve saved over the years that’s stashed in attics, basements, garages,  in boxes, trunks, plastic bins, and God knows where else!  


Baby Boomer Stuff

Maybe some of you have even rented storage units–omg, that could be some serious wasted cash!  They may not want all the doilies, grandma’s treasured cast iron skillet, the family china, your furniture/gadgets/accessories  (unless they’re rare antiques or have some monetary value!) or all the little toys, books, stuffed animals, schoolwork, drawings, paintings, Little League trophies, dance recital photographs, family photos and ‘stuff’ you’ve saved because of your sentimentality barometer.

Generation X Characteristics

So, my New Year’s resolution is to continue to  ‘de-clutter’ and scale down. I studied these Generation X and Millennial characteristics. I started this Christmas with making for my three boys, otherwise known as 30-something men, ‘legacy boxes.’  For months, I spent hours going through crap that was stored everywhere even at my office in an empty room!  

Sentimental Box

Yes, there was everything there from the first grade hand prints, the pencil holder made by the oldest in pre-school, scores of Olan Mills’ school photos from every grade, yearbooks, yes, starting in elementary school to boxes of old Legos, Tonka trucks (I mean these are keepsakes!), baby blankets (yes, the ones I delightfully and dutifully made  from fabric scraps).  

baby boomer stuff

What to do with Family Heirlooms

I knew I had to be selective because my boys don’t place the same value on this type of ‘sentimentality’ that I do. Nor do they relish family heirlooms.  That doesn’t make them ‘bad’ and me ‘good’…it just means they are themselves, and they ‘store’ their sentimentality differently from mine. My kids are not me! So, everything I touched, I asked myself, “Would one of my boys want this?” I was sweatin’ bullets.

My soft side would say, ‘Oh, Ally, yes, look how adorable, remember when blah blah blah…’  Then my hard core voice would laugh and say, ‘Are you nuts?  I mean if you’re gonna not get rid of this then build ’em each a freakin conditioned shed cuz they ain’t gonna clutter their houses!’  That was the jolt I needed.  My strategy was simple. If there was even a thread of doubt, I trashed it.  Everything I put in those boxes had to have a resounding YES.

Why do Baby Boomers Have so Much

I must say that when each opened their legacy boxes on Christmas morning, everything inside well organized, labeled, cataloged and identified…that’s important because it means it’s no longer ‘junk’, there was a sense of awe.  But, I know secretly in their heads they were saying, why in sam hill do baby boomers have so much, save so much, not throw anything away!

Sentimental Objects

Each box was different because while all three grew up with the same Mom in the same house, each experienced their lives from their own lenses, their own emotions, and their own experiences. There was utter quietness as they unwrapped, opened, and leafed through their ‘treasures’.

Things that defined who they are, from whence they have come, the roads that each had traveled in their 30-something years.  Yes, there was a seriousness that covered each son’s face, a grin, a smile and there were even trickles of small tears.

Why Kids Don’t Want Your Stuff

Despite the seeming success and appreciation of the ‘legacy boxes’ I’m not going to push my luck! I know my boys don’t want all the things that I’ve saved for them, their children, their adult lives.  Nor do they particularly want to be the keeper of the ‘stuff’ that has defined me, my life, our home.  

So, that leads me to making a 2013 resolution. I’m getting rid of more stuff, little by little, de-cluttering, simplifying, scaling back my life starting with some big ticket items here in the house.

Aging Parents with Lots of Stuff and Kids Who Don’t Want It

I’m going to sell some of the furniture in the house that’s big and bulky and that we don’t need anymore (the ‘sentimental’ stuff from my other life). One must move on, the highboy in our bedroom, the antique oak chest of drawers,  the the glass display/china cabinet that held my extensive doll collection (which I’m now giving away, too, to special little girls), the big, albeit beautiful, TV cabinet/armoire (the old fashioned ones that hid those dinosaur TVs of pre-flat screen era) that’s now become a storage depository for office supplies.  

I’m also considering the rice bed, yes, the four-poster old Southern rice bed.  We no longer need two queen beds in one room, so get rid of one!  Then sometime in 2013 I’m gonna start on doo-dads, china, accessories, vases, lamps, books, pots, pans, silverware. I mean you only need one of each, and with multiples, I’ve got major clutter.

Nobody Wants Antiques Anymore

My boys, like many 30-something singles, couples and young families, live in the world of  Pottery Barn, IKEA and World Market.  They want streamline lives.  Many simply don’t want their parents’ ‘stuff’ if they have the choice of their own, and, of course, when paying with their own green they make the decisions as it should be.  Yes, we have grandkids who are in college, but why save for them…they have parents, our children, who are going to be doing the same thing I’m doing now with them sometime in the not so distant future.

How to get Rid of Stuff

I have huge rays of hope. Thank goodness for Craig’s List and eBay. And, of course, Salvation Army and GoodWill. And, just think with the right documentation, you may actually take a tax deduction. Yay! Some credit for your  decades of saving stuff!

Another ray of hope is that maybe somewhere there are adult kids who are clamoring to have all their parents’ stuff! Wishful thinking?? A big ol’ atta boy, you’ll be saving ol’ Mom and Dad a lotta work!  

Regardless, the moral to the story is that somewhere in perpetuity someone else will be using these things/this stuff and probably saving it for another generation they think will want it…the cycle of life and our lives continue through not only our DNA, but our stuff.

Get Rid of Clutter

FootNote: Here’s what an adult child, Tonya, shared with me about this post after reading it. It hit home for her!

Hi there! Just read your latest post (another one beautifully written) and can totally relate. Our mother is constantly giving us childhood “stuff” that she finds and wants to get rid of, but can’t bring herself to toss it. And when we do get it, there’s a lot of laughing, remembering and some tear shedding…but then comes that moment when we’re thinking, “So, what do we do with all this stuff now?”.

I came up with the perfect solution several months ago. Anything paper related I scan, and any “objects” I take pictures of. Now I have special folders on my computer named “Childhood Items” and “College Years”. Doesn’t take up any room and I can always pull up the folder quickly and look through everything if I want to travel back in time  The only objects I do have on display are my Grandmother’s old cameras, which only take up a small amount of shelf space. For furniture, the only thing I have is my Grandmother’s old school sewing machine (it’s turquoise!). It’s set in something that looks like a tall end table, so I just use it in my guest room as a night stand. If I ever get the desire to sew, I can just flip up the top and pull up the machine and it’s ready to go!

Patrick M. responds…A post of much wisdom Tonya. Life should be a process of gradual casting off…until the final great letting go of life itself. Everything and everyone are lent to us. That’ s the reality which we in the west deny. Eastern cultures are much more realistic about this.






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  1. Jill Bartholomew says:

    This is so True Ally! I just recently broke my Moms heart over something so similar. She has taken pride in collecting and keeping things passed along the family to give to me and my brother. And she is in the process of moving from 2 homes into one smaller one and wanted my brother and I to take her “treasures” she has collected and unfortunately neither of us want them. I know she has taken much pride in collecting these items….but you know how it is! I felt bad telling her I didn’t want them because I know how much they mean to her!

    1. Jill…this is so true, and I very much appreciate your sharing this b/c it’s good for all of us to know…nothing hurtful is intended…it’s just that we all have our preferences, likes, dislikes, etc, and many times they just don’t coincide w/our parents’. I have no idea what I was thinking when my boys were young and growing up, and I’d buy each year those Hallmark Christmas ornaments, you know, the ‘collectors’ series…I laugh now b/c it just so funny thinking that as grown men they’d want these things…oh, well, maybe some else can avoid some of these same missteps…you are a dear to share!! xo Ally

  2. I LOOOOVVVEEEE this post and it’s so true. I save a few things myself but after working 13 years for California Closets and creating a program for personal organizers, I have also learned to “cull down”. Like one of your readers mentioned above, we used to suggest taking pictures of items you want to remember and keep them off-site somewhere too. It’s a good way to cherish the memories without all of the clutter. Happy New Year my sweet Ally xoxo <3

    1. Carrie! That’s just the coolest comment…and, especially working for CA Closets you are an organizer buff!! Yes, Tonya’s tip on taking pictures and keeping things organized digitally is great! The big thing is to cull out…clutter is not going to bog down my life!! xox Thanks, sweet Carrie 🙂

  3. Last year I decided to “destash” all those childhood memories as well, so I came up with the idea of a “life” quilt for my sons. I have taken pics of the “important” momentos….my youngest son’s astronaut suit from Gr 2… elder son’s “collection” of rocks…etc etc etc and am putting the pics on quilted wall hangings for them. They can display as they see fit, but it will not take up much room. Plus it is something that my love and time will be in…and they love that!!!

    1. Beth…that is a FABULOUS idea! If I were more crafty and could sew I’d do something like that…I know your boys will cherish that quilt of memories, that is if they don’t wear it out using it! You’re one smart mama!! xo ally

      1. Nah I just know my boys lol they are “minimalistic” guys especially now that they are the ones cleaning their houses!! 😉

        1. Beth…my boys are very minimalist, too…they usually tell me I have way too much stuff in my house, but that’s the gypsy in me! Yes, I think it has something to do w/them cleaning their places themselves, too!! 🙂

  4. Ally, this really hit home for me. Yesterday my dog knocked over the Christmas tree and I declared that the entire thing must go. But as my 15yo son dragged it out the house I was on my hands and knees scrambling to pick up the keepsake handmade ornaments my children (I have four) made over the years. He finally tossed it in the trash area and came back inside. Then I realized the star was missing. I panicked! I said “Lamarr!!!! The star!!!! It’s outside! Please go get it!” He looked at me like I was nuts and said “why? It’s just a star”. I said “that’s the star we have had since your first Christmas! It’s been with us for 15 years. Doesn’t that sound like something you should want to keep?” He shrugged and went to find it but came back empty handed (it was dark and snowing). Here I had pictured this star being handed down to him when he got older and had his first Christmas with his own family.

    I myself made the star out to be more than it was. To me it was a symbol of what I had overcome and accomplished in the past 15 years. When I purchased that star, I was a 19yo single mom with with a newborn and no job. To me it was a symbol that each year would be better. I was proposed to under that star. I spent every Christmas Eve under that star wrapping gifts and creating wonderful memories for my family. I was really sad about it but I realize now that it was only sentimental to me.

    I still have the memories and will cherish them forever 😉

    1. Machelle, my darling friend, that is a perfect example anecdote of how the sentimental value of the star for Lamar is vastly different from yours…basically guys, I think, are less sentimental than we as females, but our kids growing up now, what are they the Gen X or Y or Z (lol!), may find our stuff, our memories more of clutter and stuff than special. If by chance the star is recovered, maybe put it in a box, write a story behind it, save it, and instruct the kids to put it in your casket!! lol! Yes, you have the memories, and those memories surrounging the ‘things’ don’t have the emotions attached to them for our kids…yes, I have those types of ornaments, too, Machelle, those Hallmark that I bought each year for each of the boys…alas, they’ll probably be part of my purging saga in 2013…maybe sell on eBay! Be strong little girl…you can cross that threshold of de-clutter!! xo 🙂 Ally

  5. LOVE this post! We’re in the middle of making plans to seriously remodel our home, and I’ve been looking around at all of our “stuff” thinking it’s time to scale back. Thanks for the inspiration. Legacy boxes are a great idea! Both of my girls have hope chests 🙂


    1. Perfect time, Meeeweeeeesah, to start the odyssey of scaling back and getting rid of stuff…mine is going to be a 2013 priority…once we do things like this, I think we feel so much better!! Thanks for swinging by, my sweet angel!! xo Ally

  6. I may not have kids, but I am one of those kids that tells my mom to save save save. Now whenever I go home she has a pile for me to take, and clean out of her basement basically. Now the stuff is piling up in my small storage space…..and I finally get it….it is too much…..but so special too! Your post was really wonderful, and the boys reaction to their legacy boxes was priceless! Sending hugs, Terra

    1. Had to chuckle, Terra! Yes, you are one of the ‘targets’ of the ‘stuff’!! Oh, yes, we as parents have great intentions, but I think for the recipient, like my boys, what they want to keep is vastly different…so glad to hear I’m not totally off base!! Thanks for giving me an Ally Attagirl!! xo Hugs!!

  7. Thanks for a great read…I especially like where you talk about placing the same value on sentimentality…just because we value things differently doesn’t make one of us bad and one of us good.

    My husband and I have tons of love letters to each other…we were both in the military and therefore went long long periods where we didn’t see each other and had little phone contact…hand written letters were very much a part of our lives.

    But now that we’re out of the military I have to ask myself, do I really want these letters floating around? The answer, for me, is “no”. Those are private, they’re our love story. I thought it would be romantic to make a big fire one night and read them one last time before burning them together. My husband had a better idea though (he is the one who hangs onto stuff in our relationship, I probably throw away to much). His idea is to find an airtight container and bury them on our farm. That way, they’re there. Technically still accessible. But, they’re not in our space and they’re not in a place where someone else could read them. A quite fitting solution!

    So that’s our New Years Resolution 🙂 Bury the love letters!

    1. Oh, my, Racheael! This sounds like a Nicholas Sparks novel in the making!! I’m so touched that you’ve shared that w/me…but, alas, you are probably right…you don’t want those floating around, albeit the reveal a romance and time that many young people will never know, hence, movie material! I think buring them is a fabulous idea…make sure the container is airtight…I’d hate for those things to disintegrate/rot…I’m already getting misty eyed just thinking about when you and your adoring husband do this…***clink clink*** toasting a beautiful New Years to you!! xoxo Ally

  8. Karen2check says:

    More words of wisdom from the wise :)I will make a note though…I’m hanging onto that Mink coat from my grandmother…hehe.

    1. I say that qualifies as a keeper, too!! Hang on to it cuz it’s got that retro vintage huge appeal and flair, and no one sassier to wear than YOU!! xo

  9. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, dear Ally… the post, your thoughts, and YOU! You’re right on! It’s obvioius that I need to re-think some things too… Love you more than ever! xoxoxo

    1. Meeeshelll, my belle! You always make me smile when I see you here in my kitchen! I don’t mean to be a ‘negative nellie’ w/this at all…just opening up a new frontier that actually will face all of us as moms…Love you, too, angel!! xo Ally

  10. Sarah Wolfe says:

    Alice I loved reading your blog about your boys and their treasure boxes! It made me cry but it is so true! My oldest(Matthew-30) was married this summer and will be taking his bedroom furniture from his room to their new home in probably 4-5 months. I love your furniture shown in the photo’s and would definitely be interested in purchasing it if you haven’t already sold it! I love mahogany and it would be loved and taken care of! Let me know what you are selling and how much you would like for it! Thanks Sarah

    1. Sweet Sarah, thank you for those sweet words…yes, I teared up as I wrote it…it’s like a purging just writing about it. I wish my boys would have taken their bedrooms, but they didn’t…so good for Matthew getting it out of the house. I actually haven’t sold anything yet…let me email you privately, and we can talk more! xo

  11. Ally! Wow! This is dead on and brilliant!! Thanks for saving a sentimental mom, with young adult daughters, from the awkward process of learning that my “treasures” are most likely trash and need not take up the attics of three houses and one barn. LET IT GO! Great mantra! <3

    1. Oh, my dear Sue…by chance your girls may be in a very rare category…yes, years ago I crazily thought my boys would be gleeful and excited that Mom had weathered years of preserving their mementos that, at the time (the middle/h.s. and even college ceremonies, etc.) meant the world to them…alas, not so…yes a few things are fine, but the sheer volume of ‘stuff’…not cool now where they are in life…I’m o.k. w/it, just kinda bummed that I carted from house to house, moves, remodeling, etc. Maybe my journey will help free up space in your attics and barn!! Yes, space is a good thing!! love ya, girl! xo

  12. Great post, Ally! I am not a resolution-maker either, liking to address things on an on-going and as-needed basis! But you gotta start new phases and implement new ideas sometime and the New Year is a fresh beginning. My husband and I always joke how good it feels to purge and de-clutter…yet it can be hard to do. I am taking your lead and will release my grip on a few things someone else might just need more than I do! xoxo

    1. Oh, Anneee girl, yes, releasing your grip earlier than I did is one smart choice…keep only the MOST treasured…as hard as it is to let go (oh, they ‘may’ want this…not!), it’s a lot easier come adult time! xoxo Ally

  13. What’s up with moms and their ‘legacy boxes?’ We received ours about 10-15 years ago. It was pretty cool to see my old report cards, notes from teachers, photos and the balsa wood airplane given to me by a police officer. But, I too shed a few tears.

    1. Oh, Adam, yo’ mama and daddy were smarter letting the clutches go early! I say kudos to ’em, and I’m right behind ’em, only a decade or so later! Glad to see you had a littl’ tear crop up! xo Ally

  14. You are so right Ally! The past few days, I’ve been downsizing and getting rid of clutter. The hubby never throws anything away and even brings junk home that he finds at work. So we have mounds of clutter. I have a hope chest of things for my son and I’ll be doing the same things as you before long. (Hopefully, several years since he’s 15!) I have been through this with the step-kids that are older. They left things behind that my husband won’t throw away, thinking that they may want it someday. My step-mother is also going through this with her treasures for her kids. She realizing that they don’t want any of the ‘treasures’ of their past or the household items they’ve left or even stored in the attic. Only downside of all of this is that everyone is bringing everything to me! *SIGH*

    1. Oh, yes, Lynn like your hubby, I hung on to these things thinking ‘they might just want them’ someday…but when does that someday come? Probably nevvvahhhh! So, rather than our house being the storage place for the ‘stuff’ it’s best to let them decided…these ‘treasures’ we so love, are like ‘beauty’, it’s in the eye of the beholder…I think you need to design a big sign for your place saying ‘No Storage Allowed’!! lol!! ***giggles**** xo

      1. Giggle~Snort! Yep! Good idea Ally! 🙂

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