Empty nest declutteringI've just been on BBC Radio Sheffield's breakfast show to talk about a new survey. Huge numbers of empty nest parents get rid of their children's stuff as soon as they leave home, apparently.
My gut reaction is No! Please don't do it! Adult children need their own nest to come back to when life gets tough. Their old stuff is a kind of dependable comfort blanket. I'll never give away my son's old Tintins - much as I'd like the shelf space - because he always heads straight for them when he comes home. And I confess I've even got a battery-operated toy poodle from my own childhood.
The liberation of the empty nestIt took me a couple of years to clear out my kids' rooms. It didn't help that they weren't keen on the idea, and it felt wrong to chuck out stuff without them. In fact it became such a touchy subject that I used to spring it on them in a kind of 'While you're here would you mind …?' kind of way. That was a big mistake - I now know that I should have given them warning. The way I did it everyone just got tetchy.
But it still felt good. The time was right: I'd got through the initial sadness and nostalgia and was ready for the next stage. Now I love having my own workroom, with my own books on the shelves and no Bob Dylan posters on the walls. I love having a proper guest room where friends can be comfortable.
Straight down to Farrow & BallParents I interviewed for my book felt the same. One mother was itching to decorate her sitting room and buy a new sofa, but felt there was no point until her messy boomerang boys finally left. Her sense of frustration was palpable. As soon as they'd gone it was straight down to Farrow & Ball.
The important thing is that kids - however old they are, and even when they've got families of their own - feel there'll always be an emotional place for them at home.