At some point, most people start to consider downsizing their home. Your kids are grown and gone and maintaining a big house and a yard loses its appeal. How do you know when it’s time and what can you do to prepare for downsizing? Here are a few tips:
1. Start slow. With downsizing, it can be easier to work your way up to a smaller home. As your kids start to leave the nest, start the process by decluttering and consolidating your possessions. You don’t want your children to feel as if they don’t have a home but there’s no reason why you can’t turn their bedroom into a guest room/den or start going through the boxes of memories and slowly weeding out the unimportant. I see too many parents whose homes end up being storage compounds for children’s memories.
2. Consult with your children. Let your kids know that you’re in the process of downsizing and enlist their help. Go through a box or two each time they visit, donating the items they are sure they don’t want. Mark one box “must keep” and place the truly special items in that box. The goal should be to get their memories down to one or two boxes.
3. Consider giving away some of your heirlooms and special items now. That silver you use just once a year or those crystal goblets will get a lot more use if you give them to a loved one now. If something is too valuable to give away and too special to sell, why not share with your friends and family by gifting special items now? An added bonus is that you’ll get to experience the recipient’s pleasure at using the item.
4. Pare down holiday decorations. In my experience, the easiest thing to let go of is holiday decor. Give each child a box of their special Christmas decorations. Donate the bulk of other decorations from the other holidays. Keep just those special pieces that you know you’ll miss if you don’t see them each year. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much easier the holiday preparation is when you have just the most treasured decorations.
5. Dump the half-finished projects. Those yarn skeins and knitting needles sitting in your closet from five years ago? Dump ‘em! We all start projects we don’t have the desire or time to finish. Don’t let guilt entice you to keep the bits and pieces for years. Gather up all the pieces of the project in a box and donate it. Schools, senior centers, or a community art center will gladly accept those unfinished supplies.
Once you get started you’ll probably find that lightening your load is a really liberating project. Losing some of the weight in your home seems to shine a light on the truly special items you choose to keep and display. It can also be slightly addictive, you may find yourself relishing the chore once you see how much easier it is to live with less in a smaller space.