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  • An Important Lesson

    “Throwers” relish clearing out and will empty a house quickly; “keepers” want to preserve special things as well as memories, and will linger over the process. People who balance these attributes have come to the realization that the most valuable thing in a house is the life that has been lived there. Read more about how “keepers” and “throwers” work together to downsize and declutter.
  • Press for our Book

    “…a downsizing bible” Oregon Home
    "...some items have special sentimental meaning... Huffington Post
    "clearing out the clutter...a wonderful gift to your family..."USA Today
    "sharing tips for getting the job done..."PBS’s Next Avenue
    "Downsizing: What to do with all that stuff?" Forbes
    “…discussions [help] avert misunderstandings…” The New York Times
    “…creative ways…of maintaining peace while dividing the family heirlooms” BloombergBusinessweek
    “practical suggestions for sorting through a lifetime of items…” The Washington Times
    “…about memories, feelings and people…” Chicago Tribune
    “tips on preserving relations and memories while sorting clutter...” The Salt Lake Tribune
    "lessons from two who have 'been there, done that'..."Your Organizing Business
    “…a useful resource...” Senior Living Institute
    “…help is on the way…” Illinois Public Media
    …the only book mentioned in the Comprehensive Checklist for Downsizing a Home Organize and Downsize

  • On Our Bookshelf

    Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home by Linda Hetzer and Janet Hulstrand
    Buried in Treasures by David F. Tolin, Randy O. Frost, and Gail Steketee
    Caring for Your Family Treasures by Jane S. Long and Richard W. Long
    Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern
    Organizing Plain and Simple by Donna Smallin
    Sell, Keep, or Toss? How to Downsize a Home... by Harry L. Rinker
    Who Gets Grandma's Yellow Pie Plate? by Marlene S. Strum

  • Our Favorite Blogs

Five Tips for Minimizing Stress and Maximizing Joy

Here are some of the lessons we learned, both through our own experience, and by talking with the people who interviewed for our book, Moving On.

1. Remember who’s in charge. Whenever possible, the people who are making the move should be the ones also making the decisions if that is their desire. Helpers, whether they are professionals or family members, should always keep in mind that there can be a fine line between offering help that is truly helpful, and simply being a nuisance.

2. Take your time. This is the one piece of advice we heard over and over again, from professionals as well as those who had been through the experience of downsizing a family home. Starting early means you’ll have plenty of time to talk things over as a family (for those who want to); plan ahead; and have some fun along the way. It also gives you the advantage of being able to back away from difficult decisions and approach them again later, which can be very helpful in defusing situations in which family harmony threatens to fall apart.

3. Communicate. Consider scheduling a family meeting—or at least a conference call or video chat—before you start actually getting rid of things. Be sure to discuss not only who will get what but who will do what. How can family members and others be helpful in this process? Who will do what, and when will they do it? Try to remember that this process is difficult for many people, and that no two people feel exactly the same way about it. Have respect for your individual differences, and sympathy for the feelings of others.

4. Get help. Downsizing a home can be daunting physically as well as emotionally. No one can do it alone, and no one should try. Enlist the help of family, friends, and professionals to help you with the biggest parts of the job. But don’t be afraid to let people know if you’re not yet ready for help, or if there are certain tasks you’d rather do by yourself, and privately.

5. Have fun! This can be a great time for capturing family stories, celebrating with friends and family one last time in a home you’ve loved, and sharing memories. Leave room in the schedule to have some fun along the way, so that when you close the door for the last time, you’ll carry some recent happy memories along with you to your new home.

Linda Hetzer is an editor and author of books on home designcrafts, and food. Janet Hulstrand is a writer/editor,  writing coach  and travel blogger. They are the coauthors of Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home.

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