Planning to Get a Move On?

how to feel good about downsizing and opening the next chapter of your life

Connie Kees

The kids are gone, the big yard needs mowing, the snow needs removing, and you have too much stuff that used to serve a purpose. There is never enough time to just relax. You have fantasies about a nice condo in a warm climate or a small cabin on a lake. But as you think about all the work it would take to accomplish this, and where to even start, you sigh, grab a cup of coffee, and dream on.

Start decluttering your home now and save time in the overall process. Be prepared for the fact that your children will probably not want most of your stuff. They love you dearly, but new generations are more mobile and career-oriented, they prefer small spaces, and accumulate fewer items to clutter their lives.

Take heart! Help is available at every turn. There are hundreds of books, websites, articles, and YouTube videos on downsizing to lower your blood pressure and get your mind working. You can do this! Even better, talk to someone you know who has been through the process. Consult friends and relatives for help with sorting through the thousands of items in your home, and finding ways to get rid of things you no longer need or want. Another answer to this daunting task is to hire a professional organizer to walk you through reducing the amount of stuff and preparing for a move, saving months of anxiety and frustration.

There are many things to consider when you decide to downsize. Research today’s real estate market whether you plan to rent or buy. How long do you feel you might be living there? Do you anticipate moving to an assisted living residence in a few years? Understand that 2018 housing markets show rising prices, and interest rates are increasing. If you own your home, request a current appraisal. Moving to a smaller home does not necessarily mean spending much less on the new location. Are you planning to stay near your current home, or are you open to several new locations? Investigate costs of living in the areas you are considering and the costs associated with moving there. How much upkeep do you want to have to do yourself? Do you want to care for a yard, rake your own leaves, and be responsible for keeping the plumbing and heating working?

Start decluttering your home now and save time in the overall process. Be prepared for the fact that your children will probably not want most of your stuff. They love you dearly, but new generations are more mobile and career-oriented, they prefer small spaces, and accumulate fewer items to clutter their lives. Evidence of this is the glut of items being donated, auctioned off, sold online, or simply tossed. But do not feel hurt or depressed about this – feel liberated. Know that your things are going to a better place and enjoy the space.

A great read is a 2018 international best seller titled The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family From a Lifetime of Clutter by Margareta Magnusson. At first, I was appalled by the title. It sounded so morbid. But the book really has nothing to do with death. It is a small, delightful, insightful book written by a Swedish woman that says she is “somewhere between 80 and 100 years old.” Her message is often hilarious, full of wonderful ideas on downsizing, and her message always comes right from the heart. She even tacks on a few of her favorite recipes at the end.

Margaretta’s children are grown, and her husband is gone. She unloaded her house on the coast of Sweden, along with most of her possessions. She is living a vibrant life in a small apartment in Stockholm, and her children love to visit. The gist is that, in Sweden, it is considered the duty of parents to get rid of the things their children do not want before they leave this world. The number of hoarders in the U.S. is estimated to be 6 percent, but in Sweden it is 2 percent.

So where do you start? Imagine your dream and follow your heart. Enlist help from friends and loved ones, and from professionals as desired or required. Share your wonderful possessions with those in need. Pass on the items that your children and other people significant in your life would like to have, will make use of, and will cherish. Feel joyful as you move closer to your goal of changing from being buried in “treasures” to living a life of freedom and peace. Now sit back, pour that cup of coffee, and feel excited about the future.

Connie Kees of Eau Claire is owner of Consult an Organizer LLC. Learn more about her work at consultanorganizer.com.