Whether you’re moving into a smaller home, moving to assisted living, or just looking to get rid of ‘stuff’, there are some simple ways to approach the daunting task of downsizing. For many of us, it’s many years of accumulation and memories attached to the items residing in space within our homes. Here are 10 simple ways to approach decluttering your home.
1. Do One Room at a Time
Don’t plan on tackling your entire home in a weekend. Most experts suggest starting one room at a time. For me, I like to suggest starting in the kitchen. This can give you one of the most impactful visuals of just how much you’ve decluttered when you find that you have more cabinets empty or not overflowing.
2. Don’t Rush It
What’s the saying? ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day?’, well the same goes for your home. There are most likely twenty plus years of things that have accumulated over time. Thinking that you can clean out your entire house in a weekend isn’t practical. Instead, consider spreading it out over time.
3. Create Piles
When you approach a room, create three piles. A keep pile, a donate pile, and a trash pile. If it’s broken or missing pieces, that goes in the trash. If it’s something you haven’t used in years, then put it in the donate pile. The keep pile is probably the hardest for most people because we’re prone to wanting to keep it all. Either we assign a sentiment to it or look at it and wonder ‘what if I need it later?’. Be honest with yourself. How often have you said if you need it later? Again, if you haven’t used it, looked at it, or touched it other than to move it in a year, then in the donate pile it goes. At the end of the day, your keep pile should be considerably smaller than your donate and trash piles.
4. One is Enough
Over time, we tend to accumulate multiples of many items. Eliminating the multiples of larger items is a great place to start. If you have two toasters, keep one. If you have two sets of dishes, eliminate one. If you are moving from a home that has a family room and a living room, pare down to living room set.
5. Pare down Collectibles
There are two benefits to paring down your collectibles. One is that it forces you to keep those that are the most valuable to you while creating additional space, but second is you have an opportunity to make some cash. Instead of boxing it up for storage, consider selling it to another collector.
6. Take Pictures
For most of us, the item isn’t what holds meaning but the memory behind it. Consider creating a scrap book of photos that hold your memories in it.
7. Invite in Some Help
Downsizing is a great time to ask your family and friends for help. It also gives you the opportunity to bond and to reminisce. Going through the treasures in your home, your children might come across their favorite stuffed toy growing up. Not only can you share stories about it, but you can send it home with them!
If your family can’t help or you’re finding yourself struggling to make decisions on what stays or goes, there are professionals out there who can help. If you are working with a Certified Senior Advisor, they might know of someone who can assist you.
8. Create New Opportunities.
If you have a large collection of baby clothes from your children or grandchildren, or perhaps your spouse has passed, and you’ve had a hard time donating his or her clothing, consider having a quilt made. Sure, you’re keeping some of the items, but you are putting it in a functional piece of art that you can use to enjoy the fond memories you shared.
9. Schedule a Pick-up
Reduce the risk of putting things back. Schedule a pick-up time with your local charity to get your donations. For those items that are in the toss pile, you can rent a dumpster. Don’t have enough to fill one? Get the neighborhood in on the action and rent a joint dumpster.
10. Hire Packers and Movers
Yes, this is an expense, but one worth the investment. Once you’ve downsized and are ready to move, consider hiring a reputable moving company to come in and carefully pack up all your belongings and move them to your new home. You’ve already gone through the stress of downsizing and you have unpacking to look forward to. Working with a mover keeps one less thing on your plate.
There are a lot of memories tied up into a home, but the blessing is that all those memories are movable. It just takes some creativity and some effort to pare down your belongings.