Keep What You Love and Need. Five Downsizing Tips to Prepare for a Move

There are a lot of emotions tied up in downsizing. It’s a big life change. It’s not easy but simplifying your life can be one of the fantastic benefits of downsizing in retirement. With these downsizing tips for seniors, you’ll enjoy a smoother transition to your new home.

Downsizing Tip #1: Start Early

Our best piece of advice is to start early. Step back and acknowledge that it’s a big job. You’ve spent a lifetime accumulating your stuff, and you can’t expect to downsize it in a week.

Starting early gives you time to take baby steps. It allows you to break a big job down into smaller parts. With enough time, you could set a goal to only spend an hour a day cleaning out, so you don’t get exhausted or overwhelmed.

The reality is that most of us have emotional attachments to things. Purging can bring up some big emotions. Give yourself the time to get the job done while also dealing with your emotions. It’s okay to take a break if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Starting early will give you the freedom to do that.

Downsizing Tip #2: Track Usage

Sometimes, it’s hard to know which items to purge. Tracking how much you use an item is helpful. If you haven’t used something in the last three months, does it need to take up space in your new smaller home?

Here are a few ideas for tracking usage of various items:

The Box

For smaller items like kitchen utensils, place them in a box. Anything not used in a month is probably not necessary.

The Backward Hanger

Hang your clothes backward in your closet. Check back in a month. If a hanger isn’t turned around, you probably won’t miss it. According to the author of You Are What You Wear, most people only wear 20% of their closet 80% of the time! Do you need that 80% that you barely wear taking up space in your new downsized closet?

Sticky Notes

Place a sticky note on larger items. When you use them, remove the sticky note. If the item still has a sticky note on it after a few months, you probably don’t need it.

Downsizing Tip #3: You Probably Won’t Need it One Day

Even once you’ve tracked usage, you may still struggle to get rid of something, because in the back of your mind you’re thinking, “I might need this one day.”

We rarely use things years in the future if we aren’t using them now. And if we do need them, we often can’t find them when we do need them! Instead, think, “Is this an item I could borrow, rent, or buy if I need it in the future?” If it is, let it go!

Downsizing Tip #4: Sort as You Go

When you begin to tackle an area, get three big containers for sorting and label them:

  • Keep
  • Give Away
  • Trash

Any container works well: laundry baskets, garbage cans, or totes. Just make sure to label it clearly.

Downsizing Tip #5: Your Camera is Your Best Friend

When you are downsizing, you are probably leaving behind a home with many happy memories. Make sure to take pictures of each room before you begin cleaning out or packing. It’s always fun to go back and remember special places.

A camera can also help you let go of sentimental items. Just because you’re downsizing doesn’t mean you have to get rid of something you truly cherish. However, for some items, you could consider taking a photo of them and then letting them go.

You’ll still be able to remember the item without it taking up space. This is a great option for old children’s artwork, heirloom furniture that won’t fit in your new space, or knick-knacks that may remind you of someone.

The Benefits of Downsizing in Retirement

We hope you’ve found these decluttering tips for seniors helpful. With less to take care of, seniors often feel less stress and have more free time. We hope with these tips you find the freedom and joy of a simplified life.

If you have any questions whatsoever about independent living at Menno Haven, please contact us today! Our team members are ready to help you make the transition as smooth as possible.