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Downsizing Your Home  – Part 2

Sorry about the delay, we’re back for Part 2 of Downsizing Your Home.  For Part 1, you have to go all the way back to October 18th!

We survived the kids fighting over your stuff in Part 1, now we need to tackle a common problem that often people forget – what about all that cherished kid stuff?  The trombone from marching band days back in high school.  The first stuffed animal or even a daughter’s wedding dress.

Maybe you’re only too happy to get rid of years of accumulated kid junk.  But your adult children have an emotional attachment to your home and the stuff they left in it perhaps decades ago.  They think of your old place as the museum of their youth.  They forget that while it may have been their room (long ago), it’s still your house.

But be sensitive to these issues.  For some, the home that’s being downsized holds cherished memories for adult kids.  Christmas isn’t Christmas unless it’s spent at the old family home.  You may need to gently explain why change is necessary and good.

Your kids may not have the space in their own home or apartment for the artifacts of their youth and they may have to go thru the same grieving process as you when the time comes to ultimately discard some of these items.  Finally, there may have to be a deadline date for the collection of items before the adult child must remove the items or relinquish any rights to them with the understanding that the parents will decide without regret their disposition.

Musical instruments may have value and can be sold – by either parent or child.  And that old wedding dress might find a buyer on Ebay, or

Once the kids stuff is dealt with, we need to address another difficult reality:  What do you do if your children don’t want your things?  Time to get creative:

  1. Are there other relatives that might want the items?
  2. What about close friends?
  3. Are the items hobby related? Perhaps the reason why your kids don’t want them is that they don’t share the same hobbies.  But maybe there is someone that shares the same interests as you that would love to have them and might even pay you something for them.  Which leads us to our next solution.
  4. Maybe if the kids don’t want your stuff, it can be sold. But be ready for another gut punch.  Often, the value of these items can be less than you thought.  Or perhaps there are no buyers to be found at any price.
  5. That brings us to our next solution – donation. Maybe your family is giving your stuff short shrift but someone else would cherish it.  And it doesn’t have to be a complete stranger.  What about someone at your church or social club that is in need?  And isn’t this what social media is for? When my parents downsized, they found a taker for their collection of coffee table books and even a new home for the beer can collection I had from when I was a kid!
  6. But there is one final destination that we need to discuss and that’s the garbage can. It can be hard to accept that there are some items that no one is going to want, no one is going to pay for them and no one will even take them if they’re free!  This too can be hard.

As if filling a trash dumpster weren’t bad enough, there is still more.  The process of packing and moving these items can be made even more difficult by the trick knee or the bad back.  It’s just another reminder of the joys of aging!  Again, the process of downsizing can foster a sense of loss or even depression.

That’s why we need to look at the solutions!

  1. Get the kids involved. Maybe nobody wants the boxes of still slides and the projector or the dozens of old family photo albums.  Have the kids digitize and catalog these.  Or send the items out to a contractor for the same process.  Either way, bulk become bytes.  So much easier to find and to share.
  2. Stay focused on what you’re gaining. Downsizing is about decreasing what you have.  But having less also frees you up to refresh.  Maybe some of your furnishings were looking tired or were out of date anyway.  Perhaps you can sell items that weren’t being used and generate enough cash for a new bedroom set customized to fit your new space.  The possibilities are endless.
  3. Learn the advantage of less being more. Give younger generations credit.  They seem to be more concerned with experiences versus collecting or accumulating.  And experiences and the memories that come from them are more likely to lead to happiness than an accumulation of stuff.
  4. Remember why you were doing this in the first place. Instead of being tied to a house and repairs, oceans of carpet to vacuum, snow to shovel and grass to mow, now you’re going to be free to enjoy hobbies or travel.  Or just more time with grandkids or friends.
  5. It’s just stuff. In the end, people matter, stuff does not.