By Gilbert Carrasco, Executive Director
From the time you set up your first home, life is a steady stream of acquiring possessions. It starts with household goods, furniture and lawn tools. Then along comes kids, and all the gear that goes with every growth stage. Somewhere along the line, you receive items from your parents. And the next thing you know, you have a house overflowing with “stuff” …some of which you cherish, and some you don’t need, or even want.
So it’s no wonder that the thought of downsizing can seem a little (or a lot) overwhelming. The important thing to remember is that you don’t have to organize and downsize all at once. Quite the opposite. Instead, the idea is to get the ball rolling. That way, when you’re ready to consider a move to a smaller home or a senior living community, you’ve made progress on deciding what you want to take with you.
Here are a few tips to help you get started (and keep going) with your downsizing project:
- The “one-drawer-at-a-time” rule.
Instead of tackling your entire kitchen, set a goal to clean out one drawer or one shelf each day. For instance, start with the spice rack in the kitchen. Throw away old spices or items you never use. The same goes with the medicine cabinet. By dividing the tasks into small chunks, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and avoid burnout.
- Put your closet to the test.
Ask yourself, “When was the last time I wore this?” and “Will I realistically ever wear it again?” Be honest. If you have shirts, pants, coats or shoes you haven’t worn in a year or more, then it’s time to let those items go. Simply donate them to your favorite charity.
- Eliminate unnecessary paper.
Tackle your file cabinet—one drawer at a time. Start by checking out guidelines regarding how long to keep documents. For instance, you only need to keep tax records for seven years. And there’s no reason to keep records for cars, appliances or other property you sold years ago. Be sure to shred documents that show your Social Security number or bank account information.
- Get your family involved.
If you still have projects, photos and mementos from when your children were growing up, it’s time to pass those items along to the proper owners. Gather everything in a box for each child. Maybe wrap up the box and give it as a surprise holiday gift! Your children will enjoy the trip down memory lane. And you’ll enjoy shedding those boxes that haven’t been touched in years.
Also, are you saving boxes of china, silver or linens for the next generation? Now is the time to ask if your children or grandchildren really want those items. You might be surprised to discover that a teenager has a real appreciation for grandmother’s china. Giving family members these items now will bring you great pleasure and will make things simpler when you decide to move.
- Have fun!
Imagine running across long-forgotten photos, holiday decorations or family treasures. No doubt, you’ll have a few laughs along the way.
Overall, you’ll be surprised by how good it feels to “lighten your load” and eliminate some of the clutter in your home. You might even want to consider the idea of downsizing and enjoying a maintenance-free lifestyle at Aldersly. Call (415) 453-7425 to schedule a tour of our community.