There is a task on my long term “to do” list that has been carried over for a year now. What’s the task you ask? The answer is downsizing. Only one word but one that is often overwhelming. So I thought I would share some tips for downsizing your stuff!
A Little History
At only 53, some might wonder why downsizing is on my “to do” list. A little history will explain why. My mother grew up during the Great Depression and because of that, she had a tendency to hold onto everything. I believe that the items she held served to remind her of the precious memories and people that were attached to them.
When she passed away in 2016, I was tasked with going through all of her things and deciding what was to be kept, trashed or donated. My husband and youngest daughter helped with the task and it took two full days to separate everything.
I did not have the luxury of time with this task as I live in another state, so we worked hard to get it all done. As I sat and went through drawers and closets overflowing with stuff, I made a promise to myself not to do the same thing to my children.
Now that the nest has been empty for several years, conversations about downsizing our home have become more common. Whether you are planning to move into a smaller home or not, the empty nest is the perfect time to consider downsizing your stuff.
From my own personal experience, adult children often do not need or want many of the things you consider valuable. It is so important to have conversations with your children and grandchildren to find out if there are items of furniture or jewelry that they would like to keep.
The bonus to these conversations is that they may be able to take the items now. If not, make notes for the future so there’s no confusion.
I have kept important items from each school year for both of my daughters. These treasures take up quite a bit of attic space. However, I have faced the reality that they may not see them as treasures. And, that’s okay! I will let them decide if they want to keep them or not.
There’s a great article in Prime Women.com with more details on downsizing.
Downsizing your stuff all at once is an overwhelming thought. A better plan is to start small, perhaps one room at a time.
Whether it’s the kitchen, bathroom or family room, take a look at everything. Keep the things you use and toss or donate the rest. If you haven’t touched an item in years, then you probably don’t need it.
Everyone has different levels of sentimental value placed on items. Some people want to keep every gift, card or picture that they possess. This is simply not practical and creates clutter and large storage problems.
One solution is to keep a few significant items and take digital pictures of the rest. You can then toss the extra stuff yet still hold onto the memory digitally. This is an excellent idea for children’s school projects and awards. Then you won’t end up like me with an attic full of school papers in totes!
Clothing is probably one of the most common areas that gets “out of control”. As you go through your clothing, here are some guidelines to make it easier:
- Immediately get rid of stained or damaged items. Be honest with yourself! If you haven’t repaired it then you likely won’t in the future either. Let it go!
- If it doesn’t fit, let it go. We all tend to think maybe it will fit again. But, it won’t! You are far better served by investing in proper fitting clothes that you will actually wear.
- Remember that trends change as well as your personal style. If you haven’t worn an item in a year then donate it to a worthy charity. There are many underprivileged women who would love to wear your nice quality clothing. It may no longer be your style, but perhaps can benefit someone else.
- Once you have purged your closet, follow this rule: when you bring something new in, get rid of something old. This discipline will keep your closet neat and current.
We are not defined by the things we possess. Our stuff should be useful and enjoyed, not weighty and cluttered. When it no longer serves you, then it is time to move it on. There is something freeing about downsizing your stuff. It is a gift to yourself and your family to move forward in your golden years without all the “extra baggage”.
Never let your “stuff” stand between you and the life you want to be living!