Posts Tagged ‘kansas city’

Tips For Downsizing!

A dear girlfriend and mentor once told me, you spend your 30’s and 40’s accumulating “stuff”, and you spend your 60’s getting rid of it all. I must be an overachiever because I am in my 50’s and want all this old stuff gone!

During my 19 year marriage and the raising two step sons and my daughter, we accumulated a lot of stuff. We had a vacation home as well as our city home, so everything we owned was in duplicate. Fast forward to the divorce, where both homes were sold and I “down sized” into a 3,000 square foot ranch in the suburbs of Kansas City. Yes, I sold a few things on Craig’s List, but frankly, I wasn’t certain of what I wanted to keep and what I was willing to part with. There were so many memories! How do I even begin to “down size”?

Eight months ago, I down sized again and moved into a 1,700 square foot townhome. Now I have a serious problem. Any day now my neighbors will start to complain about me to the HOA – my place is an unruly mess of stuff. Some people might call it a “bunch of shit.” That seems appropriate too! It’s definitely time to get serious about this “downsizing” thing.

I ended up with 5 sets of patio furniture (how does that even happen?), a conglomerate of couches and chairs, an endless number of boxes filled with my beloved book collection (including the Jane Fonda book of exercise), a slew of artwork and not enough walls on which to display them, and a handful of very heavy boxes that have been packed for four years. Here’s a good motto – anything that’s been in a box for four years should be given directly to charity. I obviously haven’t missed or needed whatever is in those boxes.

With that being said, I felt compelled to create the following Tips for Downsizing. Go ahead, it’s OK! You can do it!

  1. Purge before you move. In my case, it would have been prudent to have a big garage sale in the old neighborhood, because the new neighborhood had a very strict rule of “no garage sales.” It took two – not one, but two – very large moving vans to tote all of the stuff from the old house to the new one, and that was a ridiculous waste of my hard earned money.
  2. Measure your new place and visualize your new lifestyle. If you spend some time looking at the floor plan and room dimensions of your new, smaller home, it will help you to visually place your furniture and determine what can be eliminated prior to your move. I use an old decorating book that has the little pictures of furniture and they are scaled to match a grid which you use to draw the room dimensions. This is very helpful to assist in placing your furniture before you move into your new home.
  3. It’s OKAY! It’s okay to get rid of something, even if it has an awesome memory. Take a picture of the special item and keep it in your phone or scrapbook. Of course, don’t get rid of valuable antiques or a cedar chest that has been in your family for decades. For me, I have hung onto a great set of patio furniture solely because my daughter and I bought it, put it together, and surprised my husband with a patio full of new, comfy furniture. Today I look at it and see the stained cushions. Even though I have such pride in putting it together myself, that does not mean I have to keep it forever.
  4. This is tactical – not emotional. For women, this is hard. It is for me any way. But downsizing is tactical and emotions should not be a factor into getting rid of old crap.
  5. Do not discard something meaningful to someone in your family without their permission. Enough said.
  6. Rearrange your stuff. In my townhome, one day it donned on me that my bedroom comforter set and pillows had been around through two failed relationships. It was time for a makeover. To switch things around. I took the comforter set from my previous guest room and put it in my master suite. I always thought that was a beautiful set, so why shouldn’t I use it every day? Now my room looks amazing and the old, bad karma and male mojo are gone. And it didn’t cost me a penny.
  7. Edit your electronics. I have a Game Cube, a Play Station 2 and a WII. The kids used to love and play these constantly. Now they are on a shelf in my storage room, which is a complete waste of space.
  8. If all of this sounds completely overwhelming, consider getting help. There are many reputable professional organizers. Ask around for a referral to someone who can assist you and give you an objective opinion.

After this is all said and done, take time to revel in the cleansing feeling of “no clutter.” Purging is good for the soul. Letting go is something we all have to do in life. But remember – even if you let something go, you will always have the memory of the fun and value it brought to your life at the time. Happy purging and downsizing!

 – Jill