The Laureate Way

Articles to Help Families and Older Adults Manage the Challenges of Aging

How to Downsize When Moving

Downsizing

How did it all accumulate in your house? And what is in those boxes in the back bedroom that aren’t clearly labeled? Downsizing when moving often happens when crisis hits. And when that happens, feelings can get hurt over the decisions about what goes and what stays, what family member gets what, and who is in charge. Here is where you start.

It starts with your frame of mind 

How to downsize when moving starts with feeling loss over giving away things that mean so much, or paying it forward. If we’re giving our treasures to our children or those we love, it’s a little easier because frankly the possessions are almost still ours.

But face it. Most often our children don’t really want our things. Just like us, when we were younger, they have their own tastes and enjoy accumulating their own treasures. That means if we’re ever going to clear the clutter we’re going to have to find a place to go with it.

Enter the new mindset

You’ll always have the stories behind the gifts. Some of those things are important to you because you see their beauty or their usefulness. Other possessions are important because of the memory they stir in you each time you look at or think about them.

How can we possibly get rid of something when it stirs up such grand memories? The fact is that whether we have the item or not, the memory remains with us forever.

I’ve come to understand that the real joy of our accumulations is in the collecting. It’s less about the actual things and more about the moments, people, relationships and experiences we had as we gathered them.

Moving Forward

How can we part with our things, keep our memories, and move forward in life?

By remembering that instead of losing our things, we’re paying them forward to someone who can use them, who will value them, and this will not take away your memory of getting it but give you another memory of gifting it.

I was addressing a group of seniors on the subject of downsizing and one lovely lady asked me how she could possibly get rid of the doll collection she’d begun 50 years ago. I asked where she had these lovely dolls displayed.

She grinned and said, “Actually they’re in a box in the back bedroom.” 

What if she found an organization?

Perhaps she could find an organization that cared for battered women or for abused children? Take just two of her dolls to start with and give them to two children who were in the midst of dealing with trauma. How would she feel seeing a child’s eyes light up when she gave them a doll, something they would surely treasure? You’re not losing a memory, but gaining a new one.

Learn more about the obstacles many seniors face when deciding to move to a senior community.