Home Crossroads Tips For When a Parent Moves: Who Helps With Packing?

Tips For When a Parent Moves: Who Helps With Packing?

Who helps Mom through the sorting, packing and moving process? Everyone is well-meaning. Some Moms expect that their adult children will take four months’ leave from work to go through every box, glass, and cross-stitch, remembering back to when family did that for each other. Many of today’s adult children can’t imagine how they’d be able to take leave from their job, travel out of state, and pay for a flight to sort through decades of household items – they’re overwhelmed by that idea, and it causes tension in the relationship. Their perspective is that a professional downsizer could do that, as they’re often already handing their loved one’s paperwork and finances. Mom is stressed and feels she needs her children by her side during this challenging time and advocate for her – “what else could be more important than helping me through this major life event?” They feel hurt and abandoned when their child isn’t the one helping.



Some adult children want to help. Rebecca Bomann, the CEO of SASH Services, and Suzanne Newman provide their best advice: Don’t do it. Outsource it. Only do it if you want to throw a grenade into family relationships. Let professionals be the bad guy. Let them say you can’t take seven lamps to your new apartment, let them say your couch won’t fit in the new space, let them bring their strong backs and haul that china cabinet down the stairs.

This is an investment in the sale of the house, as an uncluttered house will sell for more money, and you’ll recoup the cost. Or the items could be sold to pay for movers and professionals.

How do you choose professionals for this process? Mom sees this as an overwhelming, scary, unknown process, so she wants people who will be nice to her, won’t judge her for the house’s condition, won’t scold her for not having kept up on the back yard maintenance, who are going to be kind and compassionate. So she decides based on comfort and familiarity, on how polite they are, even if those people are incompetent and don’t know how to pack glassware.

The pragmatic adult child — already the caregiver, bookkeeper, and overall emotional supporter — has a system. They ask friends for recommendations, get Google reviews, read websites, check social media, might call and ask prospective clients a list of questions. They take a clinical and systematic approach to finding someone competent and affordable to do the task.

Neither perspective is wrong – they’re both right. Rebecca recommends that adult children select a number of professionals, all of whom they’d be comfortable with hiring. Let Mom interview them and choose the one she likes best. This gives Mom dignity and agency — lets her own the decision — while helping her choosing from among the best candidates.