As I’ve mentioned before, I helped my mom and other relatives downsize my grandparents. Even though they kept a normal amount of stuff in their house and had organized it relatively well, the process was still overwhelming and difficult. I remember being completely worn out when we were finished – and I was only 17 at the time and not doing the bulk of the work!
This article by Ashlea Ebeling is now almost five years old, but remains the best collection I’ve seen yet of tips on how to handle downsizing: Going, Going, Gone. She offers plenty of great, detailed advice, but I think the most compelling take away from her article is simple: downsizing is A LOT of work.
What does that mean for you?
1) Start the process sooner rather than later.
As I outlined here, Boomers who decide not to pare down their belongings themselves place a huge, and one might even say cruel, burden on the adult children they leave behind. The decision to downsize, and when, is not necessarily easy, but waiting too long makes it harder on everyone involved.
If you’re a member of the younger generation, get realistic with yourself about how much time and effort downsizing is going to take. Dealing with an entire home of belongings and memories cannot be done effectively in a single day – especially if you want your family relationships to remain intact!
2) Call in the experts!
Ebeling mentions several categories of experts that can be very helpful in the downsizing process, including professional organizers! In fact, an organizer can be the one to search for and coordinate these various service providers, removing much of the burden from your shoulders and letting you concentrate on the actual decisions to be made. As I’ve said before, there is no shame in hiring an expert, even if you could technically do it yourself – the time saved and better outcome achieved will undoubtedly be worth the cost.
Honestly, downsizing isn’t really fun. My grandmother was quite frankly pissed that she had to leave her house in Los Angeles for a retirement community in Santa Barbara – however cozy we made her new apartment and however close to family she was, she missed the flavors and colors and speed of the city she had called home her entire life. However, with a little advance planning and the right kind of help, you can make the process bearable and even unearth a few memories along the way.