Is it just me or does “Downsizing” just sound intimidating?!
A few weeks ago, we held an “Upsize Your Life by Downsizing” event at our Summerset Model Home. We shared tips and tricks with those considering a smaller home to help sooth the intimidation factor that is usually associated with downsizing. This article is a recap of what we discussed. Hopefully, these ideas will help make downsizing a little easier and not so intimidating!
Downsizing does not have to be a negative experience! With a little planning and organization, moving to a smaller home can be a very pleasant process, and yes, even enjoyable!
Through the years, you’ve accumulated a lifetime of memories. You’ve also accumulated a lifetime of STUFF! How do you know what to keep, what to donate, and what to pitch? Where do you start?!
The most important thing to do is to start small. Rome wasn’t built in a day and your sorting and packing won’t be done in a day either!
Pick one spot to start – I like to start in the bathroom linen closet for a few reasons. First, it’s probably one of your smallest closets. Second, and most importantly, you won’t find much of anything sentimental there!
Start by telling yourself that you’ll tackle just one shelf. Then, see how you feel? Are you tired or worn-out? Stop and take a break! Getting burned out on your first attempt is a recipe for disaster!
It’s likely you’ll feel energized by getting started. So, keep going if you’re up for it! Before you know it, you’ll have your first closet done!
SAVE THE KEEPSAKES FOR LAST
Again, this is why we start in the bathroom linen closet! It’s an easy spot because rarely are there sentimental items there – just a lot of expired medication and toilet paper! After you’re done here, maybe move to the garage or the junk drawer.
By saving the more emotional things for later, you’ll get in the rhythm of sorting and purging and will do it more quickly. Then, you can take your time when you get to those more sentimental items.
When tackling an area, gather three (maybe four) boxes and a trash bag. Label the boxes – KEEP, DONATE, and NOT SURE. The fourth box may be labeled SELL if you have more valuable items you wish to sell or consign. The trash bag is for PITCH! If clearing out areas with sensitive documents, you may want a second trash bag for SHRED.
Make the easy decisions first! Throw away expired food, medications (SAFELY DISPOSE OF THESE!), ripped, torn, or stained clothing, magazines and newspapers. Hint: Take a photo of recipes or other interesting articles that maybe you’re not quite ready to pitch yet!
When considering what to keep, ask yourself a few questions…
Do I love it? Does it bring me joy? No one is telling you to get rid of your favorite things! Do you have a favorite vase? Keep it! But, maybe consider donating the other 6 vases in your closet.
Do I use it? If I got rid of it, could I borrow it?
Does it fit? If I saw this on the rack today, would I buy it again?
Is there space for it in my new home? Don’t pay movers to move things you’ll later need to donate or throw away!
Are you moving to Summerset? Donate or Sell lawn equipment and snow shovels! Dispose of fertilizer and other chemicals safely.
Not sure? Stick it in the NOT SURE box! Don’t spend too much time on any one item. That’s why the NOT SURE box is there!
DONATE IT OR SELL IT
As you look at items, ask yourself if someone else will get more joy out it by using it rather than sitting in your closet? After our kids were into regular beds, my mom asked me this question when considering what to do with our crib. I wasn’t quite ready to get rid of it, but when I thought about the new mom who could get a great price on the crib at the Hope House, it was easier to donate it.
Would this item be a blessing to others? My grandparents moved to a low maintenance community just when Tom and I were moving into our first home, so we were given all of their lawn equipment. Not only did we not have to spend a fortune on lawn equipment and tools, but now we have a collection of my grandpa’s tools which is a great family heirloom.
There are multiple ways to sell items – consignment, an auction, or a garage sale. If you go with a traditional garage sale, just be sure to have a plan for everything you have left over after the sale!
This is probably your most important box! The key to downsizing is to keep moving. Don’t get stuck on any one item – stick it in this box!
The NOT SURE box is particularly great for sentimental items – remember we’re saving these for the end! Sometimes, you’ll find multiple similar items end up in this box. That may help your decision once you come back around to this box!
When you’re ready to tackle the NOT SURE box, revisit the questions you asked under KEEP and DONATE. Does it bring you joy? Could it be a blessing to others? Could you borrow it?
If you’ve always intended on giving an item to a specific person (esfamily Bibles, furniture, heirlooms) consider doing that now instead of later – then you can enjoy it at their house!
Is this item something that you could capture in a photo (report cards, newspaper articles, etc.)? If so, a digital copy is just as good if not better and will last longer!
If you’re still unsure, order pizza and call a family meeting to help decide what items can be moved to your new home and what to do with the other items. This can be both emotional and therapeutic. It is also an opportunity to ‘gift’ some valuables to family members and see them enjoy them!
Start small. Keep the sentimental items for last. Stay organized.
This graphic is a good reference to use when you’re sorting items. Keep it at the ready!
Doing these things will help make your downsizing process a lot more manageable and a more pleasant experience. As the saying goes, “It may not be easy, but it will be worth it!” Once you’ve settled into your new home, with your favorite things still surrounding you, you will be so happy you worked so hard to make it happen!