Is downsizing overwhelming you? Are you coaxing a loved one into moving to a smaller home? Reducing 30 years of clutter is daunting if you don’t know where to start. If this sounds familiar, you are not alone: 26% of senior homeowners say fear of downsizing is blocking a needed move. It’s understandable when you consider everything else they may be dealing with, like health issues, loss of a spouse, emotional attachments spanning decades, or scattered adult children. Rest assured that if tackled properly, downsizing is a positive experience. Follow a few simple rules, and look forward to a fresh start in the right-sized space for you:
Don’t bite off more than you can chew. We’re all human! Pick the easiest job first and break it up. Rather than a whole bedroom, tackle the closet. Reduce the task even further – first accessories, then shoes, ending with clothes. Make it fun by listening to your favorite music, watching TV, or eating a special snack at break time. Setting realistic goals that shrink your To Do list a bit everyday is uplifting. The first step is always the hardest, so be creative. Instead of buying Dad a Home Depot gift card for his birthday, give him your time: “4 Hours of Sorting” from you and the kids! Free printable gift certificate templates are on the Internet. If your schedules don’t line up, move management companies offer gift certificates. If you live in the Greater Washington area, Potomac Concierge can help.
Many hands make light work. Enlist the help of as many family members as possible and designate one patient person in the lead role. If your children’s time is limited or if they live too far away, ask a trusted friend or neighbor. Do NOT downsize your possessions alone! If need be, call a professional organizer to handle the logistics including decluttering, packing, arranging moving company, floor plan design, charity pickup/ trash disposal, etc. They also give you access to tried-and-true resources that are prescreened for quality and best pricing.
Do you really need all 12 place settings of your favorite china? Take 4. The family photographs are taking up half a closet, so digitize them so the whole family can enjoy the memories. Companies like Moto Photo in the Greater Washington area do a great job at a reasonable price. How can I part with my grandma’s buffet? Take good quality photos of the most treasured items you don’t have space for and make a digitized album.
Is a fear of change stopping you? 32% of senior homeowners say their reluctance to moving is from fear of changed surroundings. Luckily, you can do simple things to keep that homey feeling. Has your mom always kept her cereal in the cupboard next to the stove, or is your Dad used to his chair in the corner? Then replicate this in the new home. Take notes and pictures so you can recreate a similar setup with furniture arrangements, drawer and cupboard contents, and wall décor like family portraits.
Use it or lose it is the rule of thumb when sorting. Everyone gets attached to items and seniors are no exception. According to David Ekerdt (author and Director of Gerontology at Kansas U), 62% of seniors aged 70-79 have more things than they need and find it hard to give them up. Use your new closet dimensions and room sizes as a guide. Try to pass on family heirlooms and special items. Can a grandchild use them? What about your newly married niece? Perhaps a relative can store the prized grandfather clock for your still-single nephew? If not, does it make sense to sell? If a garage sale or Craiglist postings aren’t options, then make donations to local charities. Discard items in poor condition, or things that are no longer deemed safe like older model baby cribs or playpens. There are many trash disposal companies in the DC, MD, VA area including 1-800- Junk.
One size does not fit all with downsizing plans. How many helpers do you have, who will run the show, and how much time before the move? Does it make sense for out-of-town adult children to take vacation days or to pay for extra childcare while they manage your move, or do you need a personal organizer? Paring down your possessions for the smaller space is a given, but also remember that a de-cluttered house will sell for more. Does someone need to arrange for repairs before putting the house up for sale?
Potomac Concierge can help with all of the above – it is what we do! Contact us for assistance.