Kirsty McLuckie: When your empty nest is full of clutter
This week saw our last child move out to non-student accommodation, which means that he won’t necessarily ever live with us again as he has a year-round lease.
After a couple of false starts, our daughter moved out in the summer and now has a life in the city, so she is unlikely to boomerang back any time soon either.
This certainly engenders gloom about the house, particularly as the dog still bounces into their bedrooms in the morning only to be downcast at the silent emptiness.
We aren’t the only ones suffering such pangs, going by the evidence of friends our age on social media. Photos of departing teens weighed down with book bags and suitcases garner sympathy from all.
You could say of this time of year that not only does the turning of the leaves signify the end of summer, but the packing of bags for uni denotes the end of childhood.
Am I being over dramatic? Well of course. I wouldn’t want my offspring to live permanently with their parents, and the glee with which they left us – with just a cursory hug and without a backward glance – is probably a good thing.
Were I of a more emotional bent, I may be tempted to leave their bedrooms as they are, as small shrines to what once was, but in our case at least, that would present a health hazard.
The bombsite behind my son’s door was a shock, particularly as it took two cars to transport his belongings to his new place.
I was convinced that his home bedroom must have been stripped bare, but if anything it looks fuller now than when he was living here.
On the plus side, I have discovered where all the missing mugs are, even if they have to be run through the dishwasher several times to remove the mould.
But now there is an opportunity for us to re-purpose . Friends in the same circumstances have transformed their now unused rooms into gyms, home offices and, in one case, a disco space, practically before their beloved child had closed the front door.
We need to retain ours as bedrooms. In the past, weekend guests who have had the misfortune to be put up in our kids’ rooms, have had to sleep surrounded by rows of battered soft toys, piles of garish plastic, video game boxes, books and vinyl records strewn about, discarded musical instruments, and more recently by frankly offensive posters.
My son’s bedroom walls are currently a revolting dark blue – we baulked at the black that he had requested during a period of teen angst – while my daughter’s are still the lilac and custard combination she chose as a pre-teen to match a favourite princess duvet.
Every time I have suggested redecorating, there have been howls of anguish and a refusal to consider a more tasteful palette.
But the kids are away now and we can do what we like. I reckon I have an almost three-month window before they run out of food and money and return for Christmas.
The tester pots and fabric swatches have been ordered, I just need to work out if I can now ditch their clutter without starting anall-out inter-generational war.
- Kirsty McLuckie is Property Editor at The Scotsman