Three Steps to Start Downsizing

Whether we embrace the idea of parting with our excess stuff or not, the fact remains that we cannot take it all with us when we pass on.  If we don’t take control of our belongings and where we want them to go someone else will be left with the mountainous task of deciding what to do with our stuff.

The first step is to, take pictures of your home just the way it is.  This is Home, this is where you lived for many years, document it with photographs or video.  Don’t forget to write down or comment on the video special family heirlooms that the family may not know or may have forgotten.  In my husband’s family we discovered a trunk in the attic that his mother, a British War Bride, had brought to the United States full of her belongings.  I am always curious about family stories and had fortunately asked my mother-in-law a few weeks before her stroke about her trip to the United States after WWII to marry my father-in-law.  She explained to me that everything she owned was in that trunk. Relatives in Wales had bestowed gifts of jewelry, dishes and even nylons, which were in very short supply, for her to wear at her wedding.  After arriving in the United States, she discovered her trunk had been opened and many of  her belongings were missing. She went on to explain one of the remaining items was a plate, which was proudly displayed in the living room on the end table.  None of us knew the history behind the trunk or the plate and we were very grateful to have those family details.

The second step is to start small and attack your bathrooms.  Clean out the medicine cabinet, the vanity drawers, and anywhere extra toiletries might be stashed.  Check with your pharmacy about disposing of expired medicine – DO NOT flush old meds down the toilet.  Old make up is toxic and needs to be disposed of at your local recycle center with other hazardous materials.  You’ll be surprised at how much stuff is taking up room that is out of date, you don’t like, or you just plain don’t use.  Many shelters will take health and beauty products that you purchased and later didn’t like.

The third step is to begin to look at the big items in your home; this would include your artwork, the furniture, area rugs, grandfather clock, etc.  If you are moving, will you have room for those pieces in the new home?  Do family members want them? Who would you like to give them too?  One system that is helpful is to use colored post it notes, assign a color to each family member and tag items that you would like to give to each person.  Take your time and think about your choices; you might even revise the decisions a few times.  If you are moving or not perhaps you can think about giving a few things away at Christmas or Birthdays and not purchasing gifts.  This will de-clutter your home and make life easier in that you won’t have so many things to dust and care for.  Keep the things that you love and that fit in the space you have available.

With these three steps you will have recorded memories, cleaned out the smallest rooms, and assessed your larger furniture. This will give you a start on the process and hopefully encourage you to go through your home room by room. Making decisions about your belongings and appreciating the extra space you are gaining.

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