My parents and grandmother had too much stuff, but I want to break the cycle when I move out. How do I get the balance right?

Our elder has some tips on what is, and isn’t, essential.

Dear EWC

I grew up with three hoarders. Both of my parents and my grandmother always held on to extra stuff. Now I’m trying to move out with my two kids and I have no idea what I actually need in our new home. Every time I start to make a game plan I feel like I’m either taking way too much or not enough. What would you say are the basics for a child-friendly home? Thank you in advance for whatever help you can give me.

Folk replies

It’s always hard to know what to take with you when you move to a new place, Anna. Most of us wind up taking along more than we should have — and often more than we have room for. My advice to you is to start with just the essentials and then add to these as necessary.

If you’ve ever given your kids a new toy and watched them play with the box it came in rather than the toy itself, you already know that kids think differently about “stuff” than we adults do. They like to use their imaginations and appreciate having space” for their games, projects, and activities. Kids like easy access to snacks, so a well-stocked healthy treat shelf in the refrigerator, in a cabinet, or in both is a good idea. Kids also like a snug, private “cozies” where they can be alone if they want to be and feel safe. And they like having someplace of their own (a drawer, a shelf, a closet, or even just a box) to keep their special treasures. Finally, depending on the ages of your kids, they may need either a play or a study area as well as a designated electronics area (computer, video games, etc.).

I raised eight children and moved many times over the years, so here is my own personal list of essentials:

KITCHEN: dishes, glasses, cups, silverware, sponges, dishrag, dish towels, cleaners, sharp knife, pizza cutter, cutting board, pots, pans, serving dishes, storage containers, small kitchen appliances (toaster, microwave, blender, coffee maker, slow cooker), fire extinguisher, flashlight and supply of batteries (all sizes).
EATING AREA: table, chairs
FAMILY ROOM: Sofa, comfy chairs, rug, tables, lamps (if needed for light), television, toy box, computer, computer and or gaming chairs, games, art supplies, family memorabilia (framed photos, awards, trophies).
BEDROOMS: Beds, mattresses, television, dressers, blankets, sheets, pillows.
BATHROOMS: Towels, toiletries, toilet paper, hamper, extra bedding.
STORAGE AREA: Shelves, bins, cleaning supplies, laundry supplies, vacuum, broom, mop, toolbox with basic tools.

I’d recommend keeping a two-to-four week supply of basic food items (such as peanut butter, jelly, bread, cereal, juice) on hand, as well as a supply of things you use all the time like paper towels, toilet paper, plastic wrap, etc.

I hope this helps get you started. Best of luck in your new home, and remember we are always here if you want to talk more about this or would like to ask any follow-up questions.

Letter #: 438408
Category: Children

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