Moving On… Packing Up The Memories

Senior Couple DownsizingYou have decided to downsize.  You no longer want the responsibility, expense or maintenance of a family home; it is too big now that the kids are gone and you want to start relaxing.  You have found the perfect spot.  It is smaller, but you don’t need as much space.  You don’t need to maintain all the bedrooms as a shrine to each of your adult children.  You will have your own room, a spare for guests, enough room to entertain, and space to relax.  There are no more driveways to shovel, no more stairs to climb and it is as easy as locking the door and leaving the next time you go on vacation.

But how is all of your stuff ever going to fit into the new place?

The family home has a lifetime of memories.  You’ve watched your children grow; you’ve taken the time to fill each room with the perfect furnishings, collecting great accessories and art finding just the right spot for each precious gift you received.  You have closets full of clothes, some in style and some pulled out and quickly put back with an “oh my, what was I thinking”.  The kids’ rooms are full of childhood toys & teddy bears propped up on pillows, not used any more since they left for college, got married or just went off to set up on their own.  Things that once seemed so important to someone are stored in every closet, every drawer, and every room.  The basement and garage are overrun with stuff. The stuff kids insist on keeping; the stuff you no longer use but can’t bear to part with.

So how do you sell your home and fit all your treasures into the new place?  You don’t….

It is time to have the kids have a look at their treasures.  Prepare to be a bit ruthless with them – and yourself – and get ready to stomach the truth. All that stuff is just stuff.  Some of it has got to go. It is easier to deal with what is not yours first.  Move the kids stuff out in one area and have them over to make decisions.  Let them know your home is not a storage facility and that you are moving on. Just as the kids will have to accept that your home isn’t their storage facility, you have to accept that they don’t want your old stuff.  Don’t hang onto things you think they will want.  Ask them once and then make your own decisions. The kids want their own identity; they want their own stuff.  This is a generation that is very independent.  You shouldn’t make them feel obliged to take your stuff just as you shouldn’t feel obliged to keep theirs.

Depending on when you decide to downsize, kids may be more or less open to taking your cast-offs. Young adult children may be trying to establish their first home and be happy to take anything from towels to sofas, or they may be too transient or not have the space to take things.  Older children may be too established to want old possessions, but may also have their heart set on a specific piece which fits into their home.  Communicate.  Give them what they want or need but get rid of the rest.  If appropriate or necessary, have an auction house come in – enjoy the liberty of taking some of that reclaimed cash and spending it on something new.

A lot of people want to make a storage facility their easy answer. It may be easy, but it might not be the best solution.  Storage facilities are one of the fastest growing industries.  This trend shows how willing we are to clutter up our lives.  Many things have sentimental value, but if you are just storing things for the future, think about it. Monthly fees multiplied by the number of years in storage may be overwhelming and financially irresponsible.  The amount of money you spend may actually be greater than the value of the items being stored.  If so, sell and buy again when needed.

There exists a mentality that stuff makes us feel we are rich. The more you have, the better off you are.  However, on the contrary, if you’re not being drowned by clutter you will have a better perspective.  Start fresh.  Keep things that are meaningful.  A general rule is that, if you haven’t used it in six months or a year, you don’t need it.

You will also have to make some decisions about how to decorate your new place.  Do you want a scaled-down version of your home, or do you want to start fresh?  In order to create a fresher version of your familiar space, try to coordinate old and new pieces. This decorating technique will provide comfort but will also offer a welcome degree of change.

All of this can amount to an emotional process.  Try to bring in an unbiased third party to help you through the process.  Whether it is all up to you or requires the kids to get their stuff out, it all has to be done.  Though it is hard to let go, you shouldn’t have any regrets once it is done.  Your memories are in your heart – not in your stuff.  You should feel lighter.  The better you purge, the more uncluttered your new home will be to start the new chapter in your life.

Downsizing gives you the opportunity to let go of the things that are getting in the way of your life. At this point you deserve fewer responsibilities and more time to devote to yourself.  This is the time to focus on your health and well being and to live the rest of your life as fully as possible.

The following words of wisdom are intended for those who wish to move on and pack up the memories….

The more I have, the more I want…

The more I want, the less I have…

The less I have, the less I want…

The less I want, the more I have.

Click here for more information about downsizing and organizing.