Downsizing, de-cluttering, organizing, or whatever you want to call it, it is a necessary evil that we all need to face at some time in our lives. Probably we should do it periodically, but most of us procrastinate and let things accumulate in the basements, attics, garages, and sheds. There are various reasons to de-clutter; from moving into a smaller home, to stay safely in your home. You, your spouse or partner may be ill, disabled or have died or you cannot maintain your home any longer. These are all very important reasons to seriously think about downsizing and NOW is a good time to start! Whenever possible, family members should be involved in the process, because there may be items that they might want.
HOW DO I START?
- Set aside specific periods of time. Start off slowly, one to three hours a day is sufficient because of the physical and emotional strain involved. Take frequent breaks, to avoid becoming overwhelmed and dehydrated. If you decide to tackle the basement first, break it down in sections. Make sure that you dispose of all trash and take the items to be donated away (this eliminates second guessing!) Only leave items that you are keeping or planning on moving. When you complete that section STOP! You will feel good about what you have accomplished and schedule your next session.
- Develop a system for sorting. Start with large items (too large for cartons) first, by putting color stickers on these items: i.e.: Yellow = Donate, Blue = Keep, Green=Give Away, Pink=Undecided. Then determine how and where these items are going and write that on the stickers. Knick-knacks are smaller and stickers don’t stay put. Set up cartons and mark them KEEP, GIVE AWAY, DONATE, UNDECIDED. If you need make the phone calls for pickups right away and schedule it to happen! Don’t procrastinate — make the calls!
- Take time to remember: Don’t rush the sorting and downsizing. It will take time and if you start early, before the pressure is on, to finish by a certain deadline date. You can decide what you want to do and make sure you are comfortable with your decision. Take time to laugh or cry, reminisce, look through old papers, and to remember and grieve. You need this time and it will help you to let go.
- Take pictures or video items. In order to remember and pass the memories down to your family, take pictures or a video of the items. Recording your memories and recollections of an item and its connection to the family is particularly important if the items are family heirlooms. The younger family members may not aware of the history or special significance the piece(s) have to the family history. Your recorded recollections will bring added value to your family.
The earlier you start to prepare for a move, the better off you will be. Downsizing and moving is a very stressful time in a persons life, no matter how old they are. Doing this after years of living in the same home, and having accumulated a lot of “STUFF” is a lot of work. This only adds to your stress level.
In my next posting I will talk about the downsizing and how to get rid of the stuff we have all accumulated over the years. The pros and cons of moving sales, and why your items are not selling for what you know they are worth!
To all the Mothers, Grandmothers, and wannabe Mothers – HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!