De-Stress Your Downsizing and Moving

We seem to always be going through cycles of nesting and purging. These cycles begin with our first attempts at personalizing our childhood space, usually our bedroom, in the family home. Over the years, nesting takes on a new meaning as we move to our own home, get married, have children, and expand our living space. Our purging is also evident throughout our lives as we shed items that are no longer functional, necessary or stylish. We purge when we move from one home to another, when children leave to begin their own nesting, and when we begin to downsize. Ultimately, we realize that while we may have removed some items over the years, we have still managed to accumulate much more “stuff” than we actually eliminated.

Many people begin to downsize into smaller living spaces when they no longer need a large home to accommodate a growing family. Others wait until they are ready to move into retirement and assisted living communities. Others never go through the purging process at all and, upon their emergency relocation, or even death, leave large amounts of accumulated “stuff” for their families to sort through and deal with.

If you are considering a move to a smaller domicile, a retirement community, continuing care community, or just want to reduce your clutter, here are a few tips that will make your downsizing or moving experience a little easier, less stressful, and much more pleasant:

Plan Ahead. When possible, allow at least six months to prepare for a move. Creating a “to do” list will help you stay organized and ensure that you complete all your tasks. Check off each task on your list as you complete it. If you have a move date in mind, it is imperative that you begin this process early!

  1. Create a Floor Plan for your new location. Most likely, all of your belongings will not fit into your new space. Measure the pieces of furniture you will need as well as those you would like to take with you to be sure they will fit. Be prepared to make choices.
  2. Inventory and Photograph Your Belongings, particularly your valuables, so you know what you have, how much it is worth, and where it is going.
  3. Choose What You Will Need. Select what you will need in accordance with your floor plan. Also, ask your family if there are items that they would like to have. To avoid clutter, have them remove the items they’ve selected so you can sort the rest.
  4. Organize Your Remaining Belongings according to what you plan to keep, what you are donating to charity, and what will be sold, recycled, or disposed of. Make sure others know the destination of each item so they are not mixed together.
  5. Stay Focused. Concentrate your efforts on one room at a time. As you pack your boxes, be sure to label them (“kitchen,” “living room,” “bedroom,” etc.) so you can easily find things after your move. Pack things last that you will need up until your move, like kitchen utensils, personal items, etc.
  6. Preserve Items that Hold Precious Memories. Be creative. A shadow box could hold items related to a special time in your life, or a collection of small items. A quilt could be made from clothing or other items that once belonged to you or your children. Pillows can be made from photos printed on fabric. Scrap books are great for keeping memories alive. Your family members may enjoy helping you with this, especially as you reminisce.
  7. Ask for Help When You Need It. Be careful to avoid overdoing or lifting heavy things. Pack boxes so they can be easily moved. When you need help, ask for it!