3 Things That Make Downsizing Hard, and Tips for Getting Through It…

1. All those memories. 

Lots of people get stuck before they ever get started with downsizing, because the whole house is just so full of memories. Or so it seems.

But it’s not actually the house that holds the memories, it’s our minds–and our hearts. Often aided by pictures, letters, pieces of furniture, and so on.

You can keep the memories, and you can keep some of the pictures and letters too. You can even keep some of the furniture (though you may not want to keep it all). And you can still get rid of a lot of the things in the house, and even the house itself.

You’re not saying goodbye to the memories. You’re saying goodbye to some of the things in your house, so you can make room for other things, or just to free up some space. That’s not a bad thing. And there are ways to go about it that will actually help seal, preserve and celebrate the memories that are so important to you.

2. All those things.

Some of the things are (or may be) valuable. Some of them are clearly not (like chemicals under the sink and in the basement and garage), but you don’t know what to do with them.

People in the process of emptying a home that’s been lived in for a long time come up against a myriad of perplexing questions, many of which require expert knowledge that most people just don’t have. (Is this a valuable antique or a Goodwill donation? Can I throw this in the trash, or is there a better way to dispose of it? and so on…)

You can hire experts to take care of it all for you. Or you can do it yourself. (Or better yet, with the help of family and friends.) If you do the latter, you’ll need plenty of time to sort through it all. So start now! Do just a little bit every day. Or focus on it once a week.

Figure out a schedule that works for you, and then ignore the voice that keeps whispering (or shouting), “This is impossible!”

It’s not. You can do it!

3. Someone could use this…”

People make fun of this one, but they shouldn’t. It’s true that a lot of the things we don’t want anymore could be well used by someone else. Clothing, furniture, kitchen items, even old photographs and magazines.  Finding “new homes” for the things you’re discarding is not crazy, it’s admirable. Some things may help those in need. Other things may help preserve local history for the community, or provide materials for community groups of various kinds. Given enough time and thought there’s a way to find good new uses for many of the things cluttering up your home.

But you have to actually do it!

Our newly updated e-book has very specific advice for how to approach these three common obstacles to downsizing the home; helpful tips from others who have been through the process; and links to other resources that can help you find the expertise you lack as you work your way through this process.

Professional organizers and senior move managers, as well as lots of other people, have told us that our book helped them and their families or clients–we hope maybe it will help you or someone you know as well.

Janet Hulstrand is a writer/editor,  writing coachtravel blogger, and coauthor of Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home.

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