As we get older, we often yearn for simplicity–a closet that’s less stuffed or maybe a small home with fewer things to dust.
It’s not surprising, at this stage in our lives, we have nothing to prove to anyone else and we gravitate towards doing activities with people we love. Downsizing and simplifying can be liberating. Give yourself the gift of enjoying your time by downsizing your space.
You may have heard about the Netflix show which features Marie Kondo. Her decluttering and organizing techniques put the zen right into lightening your material load. Whether you’re downsizing or removing clutter, both will free you up to do all the things on your list of things to do outside of the home. Spring cleaning clears the clutter and makes room for our lives get out there to enjoy a walk or have a leisurely patio lunch with friends.
Marie has lovely tips for those of us looking to downsize, some of my favorite tips inspired by Marie Kondo and the KonMari method.
Only keep items that bring you joy
When you look at those holiday decorations, do they fill you with nostalgia and joy or do you feel the weight and pressure to use them every year because you always have?
If decorating for the holidays doesn’t bring you joy, or you wish to simplify, dearhearts, don’t hang on to those things, release them. As a famous Disney heroine once implored, “Let It Go….Let It Gooooo…”
Many charities will pick up your donations at a pre-arranged time, so don’t hold on to items because you’ve always had them-every holiday season deserves joy, and it’s ok to redefine joy that suits you today.
Many of us still have professional business attire in our closets; attire that is no longer current or fits us. Go through your closet ruthlessly and toss or donate items you don’t wear anymore. Donate work clothes to charities that help women who need professional attire, there is probably at least one in your area.
Start Simple: The Linen Closet
Oh, dear, the linen closet. Reviewing my own I see stacks of towels which no longer fit my decor or I’m too embarrassed to show anyone. It’s nice to have “old towels” around for emergencies, but I don’t really need stacks of old towels.
I also see far too many sheet sets. When I think about it, I only need two sets of sheets for the primary bed, maybe three, one for the bed, one in the laundry and one for a midnight “whoopsie.” For a guest bedroom, you only need two sets of sheets, maximum.
Towels and sheets stack up because they are “out of sight, out of mind,” but simplifying the linen closet is an easy, and less emotional step, towards downsizing and decluttering. Celebrate small victories first and tackle that linen closet.
Everything has a place
When you’re downsizing your space, ask yourself “where will this item be when it’s not in use?” I find the kitchen can become an area of clutter. When I look around, I have to ask myself, do I need 5 wooden spoons, or would 2 do? Baking sheets are something else which have mysteriously multiplied over the years and suddenly, I’m asking myself when I will ever need 6 baking sheets at once? Out they go!
The kitchen is one place where there are all kinds of options to save on space, have you seen these adorable collapsible measuring cups? Guess what else tends to pile up and take over? Reusable containers. Toss all the mismatched lid and treat yourself to fully stackable storage with matching lids, the joy it brings to get rid of all those old mismatched lids/containers might surprise you.
Downsize your furniture too
If you’re moving to a smaller home, consider whether your furniture will fit in your new home? While our homes may have been the center of family gatherings in the past, our new home might not need that huge sectional any longer. Take advantage of this opportunity and look for items that are multi-use and/or provide storage.
A tidy home, no matter it’s size will feel warm, welcoming and relaxing.
While we’re on the subject of furniture, if you have anything particularly special, offer it to your family first and then try to see if there’s a consignment shop who is interested in it. But the truth is, younger generations just aren’t all that into most of our furniture, even if it’s high-quality. Antique shops are constantly bemoaning this fact; don’t try to buck this trend alone, just donate it.
Off-Load To Family Members
You may be the keeper of cherished family heirlooms that are too important to donate. Now is the time to ask your children and grandchildren to take the items meaningful to your family. Chances are, you will get great pleasure seeing these cherished items in new environments. These can be painful moments because you may find you’ve been holding on to items assuming future generations will cherish them as you have, but they may not. Younger people, in particular, are more mobile today and they don’t want to have a lot of “stuff,” in their homes either.
Should this happen, there are two choices. First, is to make sure your children and their children understand the story behind these family heirlooms. They may have heard the stories before, but appreciate them more fully now.
The next choice may be a painful one, but, remember, the first rule is about joy. If you’re lugging these items around out of obligation and no one else cherishes them, where is the joy? We must ask ourselves whether what was meaningful yesterday will be meaningful tomorrow. We are dynamic women, and the answer may surprise you.
Ask For Help
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by downsizing your space, find a friendly neighborhood “professional organizer.” There are people who love this task and feel genuinely thrilled at helping you through the emotional task of organizing.
Paying someone to help you declutter to prepare for downsizing has another good purpose: economics. Professional organizers may charge $50-$250 an hour, but packing and moving can cost $5,000-$15,000 so there’s good incentive to pare things down to only the things you truly love.
Decluttering and downsizing may be an emotional experience. The important thing for us all to remember is these are only “things,” they don’t define us. Happiness never comes from clutter or stacks of stuff, true happiness comes from spending time with those we love – you will now have more time to spend with friends and family. Enjoy!