What comes to your mind when you think of downsizing? To some people it is loss, drudgery, an overwhelming task that one scarcely knows where or how to begin. Conversely, others might see downsizing as a feeling of freedom, simplicity, and even joy. No matter how you feel about downsizing, it is something that almost everyone has to do sooner or later for themselves, their parents, relatives, or friends. Some tips to help you take downsizing to the next level are outlined below. Note that downsizing is an art and what works best for you might not be the same as what works for the next person. Also, the amount of downsizing you need to do will depend on several factors including how much you have to begin with and whether you are staying in your current home or moving someplace smaller.
One way to look at downsizing is by category such as clothing, dishes, cookware, furniture, books, knickknacks, pictures, linens, etc. Assess your needs and take a good look at what you really use, wear, read and want to keep. Some people want to keep it all. This is not downsizing. Some people (albeit a much smaller number) want to get rid of almost everything. These are two extremes and your goal should be somewhere in the middle. Some “don’ts” of downsizing include: don’t keep clothes that don’t fit you and/or that you don’t wear. Don’t keep things just because they were a gift or inherited – if you don’t use them, like them, or want them let them go. Don’t keep things that are broken that you have never fixed even though you think you might do this “some day.” If that is true, make “some day” “today” or kiss it goodbye.
A few “do’s” to keep in mind include: do keep sets of matching linens, do keep the best things whether they are clothes, furniture, dishes, art, pictures, books, etc. Do keep the things you use and like the most. Keep the things that give you joy. Take pictures of belongings you plan to sell or donate if you need to have a visual memory of them. Take family pictures out of frames and put them in an album. Make an album of your favorite scenes and pictures from trips you have taken, the “best of” so to speak.
So let’s assume that you are making your way through this process and downsizing. What do you do with all of your stuff? If your family doesn’t want it, you can sell it or donate it, depending on what you would like to get rid of. Selling options include consignment stores, estate sales, on-line estate sales, e-Bay, Craig’s List, and garage sales. The approach you take depends on how much you have and what its value is. There are numerous charities where you can donate items; some will come to your home and pick items up (sometimes a fee is involved for this service). And, some things you eliminate might be more appropriately recycled; this includes household and yard chemicals, paper, metal, glass, and plastic. The last and final resort is the garbage. If no one can use it and it is not recyclable, put it in the trash!
When you have found your way through this process, take time to reflect and celebrate your accomplishment and enjoy your new, decluttered, fresh home!
Holly Hansen, Partner
EPPIA is a networking group whose members are committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. EPPIA members meet to learn, exchange information and discuss issues in the field of aging. For more information on EPPIA and local senior resources, please visit our website at www.edenprairieaging.org.