Decluttering to Downsize Series: Planning for Downsizing

Are you thinking about downsizing your home, or do you know a loved one who is considering it? If so, this blog series is for you.

Downsizing your home is a MAJOR life change that’s both extremely emotional and physically demanding. That’s why I’m addressing this as a series, to give you a deeper dive into each step in order to help remove some of the overwhelm surrounding downsizing. Having a plan in place, along with the right support will help you move forward in this process as smoothly as possible.

There are six steps for successful downsizing:

  1. Plan for this move.

  2. Declutter.

  3. Address your memorabilia.

  4. Pack.

  5. Move.

  6. Create supportive spaces in your new home.

This blog takes a deeper dive into step #1: Plan for this move.

Here are my tips for successful downsizing planning, which will help make this process easier on your body, your emotions, and the relationships in your life.

Identify stakeholders.

Communication with your family and friends in a timely and effective manner will help tremendously with downsizing. Stakeholders are the people in your circle who might have some kind of ownership over certain items in your home. For example, adult children who still have belongings in their childhood bedrooms. Or extended family members who are interested in family heirlooms.

Make a list of the stakeholders who need to be involved in this process.

Communicate with stakeholders.

It can be difficult to talk about downsizing, but it’s an important conversation that needs to happen sooner rather than later. You want to have this conversation before there’s an emergency, such as a medical event or a major life change.

Open up the lines of communication as soon as possible and talk to your stakeholders about your plans. Just get the conversation started. This is a discussion you might want to have in person. But when it comes to specifics (timelines, who can help with what, items people want, etc.), I highly suggest putting it in writing (email) so that you can easily refer back to it.

Assemble your support team and understand your physical limitations.

Downsizing is physically demanding. If you need help with lifting or pulling boxes out of the attic, then you need to enlist the help of people who can support you.

Your support might also include someone in the mental health field. Downsizing can be extremely emotional, and having a therapist to talk to while you’re going through this process can be helpful. It might also be helpful to have a physical therapist or a massage therapist to help support your body through this physically taxing process.

Simplify and stop the flow in.

It’s really important to stop the flow of stuff coming into your house while you’re planning for downsizing. If there’s stuff coming into your house, and stuff is not coming out of your house, then downsizing is not going to happen.

Commit to not bringing anything new into your house. Stop the flow in, and simplify your life as much as possible. Anything you can do to reduce your obligations, even for a temporary period of time, is going to help you find the time, space, and energy you need to successfully declutter to downsize.

Remove judgment from the equation.

Anytime we embark on big, life-changing events, we stir up big emotions.

Everyone reacts differently to change. Everyone reacts differently to downsizing. It’s very easy for us to sling judgment on others, especially close family members. If someone is reacting in a way that you don’t understand or that you feel is negative, try to take a deep breath and take a step back. It’s probably something they just don’t want to deal with and it makes them very uncomfortable. It doesn’t justify their behavior, but it doesn’t help if your reaction is negative as well. Do what you can to remove judgment from the situation to make the process move forward as smoothly as possible.

If you’re feeling frustrated because an adult child has left their things in your home for years, choose not to let that frustration overwhelm you right now. Come up with a plan of attack and stick to it. Let go of those lingering feelings to make room for productive solutions — it will be so helpful to everyone moving forward.

Proceed with love, empathy, and LOADS of patience.

I cannot stress this enough! Downsizing is complicated. Anything you can do to infuse this process with love, empathy, and loads of patience will benefit you in the long run.

Commit to a specific timeline.

Use those lines of communication with your stakeholders to help you with a timeline. If you’re planning on moving within the next 18 months, have a clear and concise timeline for when things need to happen.

Be realistic. It takes a long time to clear out a house. If you need family members to help you with this, put it in writing with clear deadlines for when things need to happen. This will give everyone involved a detailed idea of what needs to happen and when.

Email specific dates to avoid the vagueness that comes along when planning for a big event like this. You need commitments to keep moving forward, not “I’ll get to it next weekend/next month/in the future!”

Identify the sentimental and valuable items in your house and start a running list.

At the beginning of clearing out your house, deal with the easy things and easy decisions. As you come across sentimental items, family memorabilia, or things of high value, make a list of these items so that when the time comes, you have the information readily available. Then you can start to tackle that list when the time is right.

Consult experts.

If you need to talk to your lawyer, your doctor, your accountant, movers — now is the time to consult with these experts. Find out who these resources are and figure out who you need to talk to, and start that conversation early in the process because having these critical details taken care of can help you move forward in the downsizing process.

Everyone’s downsizing plan will look a little different, as you factor in your own needs and the things that are important to you. Having a solid plan will help you navigate through the downsizing process with a little more ease, so take the time to set yourself up for success!

If you’re looking for decluttering support to help you (or a loved one) with downsizing your home, please join Clutter Bootcamp. There is a whole community in the Priorizie Your Sanity group who are going through downsizing, and they’re ready to support you!

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Subscribe to my YouTube channel for my weekly podcast, “It’s All Clutter,” to follow more tips in my Downsizing series!

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