Help! I’m Drowning in Stuff!
There is a large generation in our country at a pivotal point in their lives – the Baby Boomers. They have the old “empty-nest syndrome” because their children have moved out and started their own lives. They also have elderly parents that are in need of care in nursing facilities. Family members in the boomer’s lives are moving and entering new phases of life. So where does that leave the boomer? With a whole lot of stuff! Children leave their stuff that they can’t cram into a 400 square foot starter apartment and boomers inherit furniture and collectibles from their parents. Uh oh! Now the boomer would like to downsize. What do they do with all of that stuff?!?
Ready, Set, Go
I recently wrote a blog post on how to declutter your home in 30 minutes. And while this is a great way of getting organized quickly, I think for the boomer’s who are downsizing and trying to sort out memories, a different strategy might be necessary. Amy Hoak wrote a wonderful article on this exact subject for Market Watch of the The Wall Street Journal. In the article, Ms. Hoak gives several ways to declutter when downsizing. Here are a few:
• Get some sleep – I like that she suggests the boomer’s get a good night’s sleep before beginning this possibly daunting task. This can be physically and emotionally straining on someone.
• Tackle the biggest mess first – This is important. When you see results from your efforts, you will probably begin to feel much better and can continue onto the smaller messes.
• Get rid of Junior’s junk – This is a very difficult task for most parents. The sentimental value alone makes parents want to hold onto items forever. But, the truth is that not every piece of paper they ever scribbled on is worth keeping. Pick what means the most to you and ask your kids to come pick what they want to keep. On the other hand, it is hard for Boomers to let go of their parent’s items as well. Susan Fay West, an organizing coach in Amherst N.H. and quoted by Ms. Hoak, suggests you “keep things that capture the ‘essence’ of the person.”
• Sometimes you can’t do it on your own – Sometimes it takes a good friend, family member, or even an organizing coach to be a sounding board and voice of reason.
It’s hard to declutter your home when you’re downsizing. It’s an exciting time in life. You are starting a new chapter with a world of possibilities open to you. But it may be time to get organized first and to let some things go. Be sure to remember that just because you are getting rid of some unnecessary items that have memories attached doesn’t mean that you are getting rid of the memories themselves. You aren’t boxing the memories away, donating them, or selling them on Craig’s List. You are just making space to make more memories in the future!
Do you have any decluttering tips for downsizing your home that you didn’t see on the list? Let us know about them in our comments section. We would love to hear from you!