Two years ago my children convinced me to sell my home that I had owned for 37 years. It was a large 4 bedroom Bi-Level that I raised 4 children in and built a lifetime of memories. Never would I have thought I would give up the comfort of that home and the love that I felt from being there for so many years.
But the experience of downsizing and decluttering has been invaluable. It’s simplified my life and allowed me to begin living a more intentional, healthier, happier life. I hope my story can help to inspire anyone who needs the courage to start the process of living with less.
Advantages: Less area to clean and less maintenance.
Despite having done some remodeling on the house, there always seemed to be something breaking down or needing to be replaced. While the house had 37 years of great memories, it also had 37 years of wear and tear and I was also 37 years older, too. Not to mention the large yard I had to mow and maintain on my weekends, the bedrooms I had to keep clean that were no longer being used, etc.
So with the nudging of my kids, I put it on the market and sold it before I even had a chance to figure out a plan of where I would move or what I would buy. But after two years of living with my daughter and helping her with her brand new twin girls, I found the perfect, affordable ranch-style home in a brand new development in a perfect part of town.
Fast forward to today and I’m living with 500 less square feet. I have no yard work, no stairs, and a space that’s much easier to keep clean while still having space for my family to visit and stay overnight. Plus, it’s a brand new home so I have peace of mind, too. I couldn’t be happier with my decision to downsize. If downsizing homes is something you’re considering, try to put aside all the emotions and the overwhelm that the process might cause you, and allow yourself to imagine the freedom it could offer you instead.
Letting go of the “nest”
I think many people my age feel the need to hold on to their children’s “nest”. We want a home where our grandchildren can enjoy the same way our children did. But, we overlook the impact that has on our own lives and well-being.
My children, like many other adult children, wanted me to be free from the responsibilities more than they wanted that home base. They have their own homes now and as hard as it is to realize, they didn’t need mine anymore. While it was hard to say goodbye to their childhood home, the happiness they felt for me when I found my new home was worth it.
There comes a point when you have to start living for yourself again. But in many ways, you’re still doing it for your children. I couldn’t bear the thought of something happening to me and my children having to go through years of my belongings, plus having to fix up the house and put it on the market themselves. It’s hard enough to lose a parent, and it was hard enough for them to lose their childhood home…I couldn’t let them experience both simultaneously.
I couldn’t bear the thought of something happening to me and my children having to go through years of my belongings, plus having to fix up the house and put it on the market themselves.
So, my greatest advice for anyone considering downsizing is to think about what you’re leaving your children with when you pass. Also, you don’t have to be retirement age to downsize or declutter. For example, my daughter Lindsay sold her home and now she and her husband live in an RV and travel the country year round. She realized that she didn’t need all that “stuff” that she was once so tied down to and lives with much less but has the freedom of adventure. To read more about how she downsized and decluttered you can go to followyourdetour.com.
Advantages: Relieves anxiety, helplessness, and stress
When moving out of my old house, I had put everything I owned into a storage unit without having the time to sift through and toss anything. So when the time came to move into my new home, I was completely overwhelmed when I saw that my garage was piled to the ceiling with boxes upon boxes of stuff I hadn’t seen for 2 years. Instead of being thrilled, I sat down and cried because I had no idea where to begin. I went from feeling relieved with no household responsibilities to having the stress of unloading a garage full of boxes and setting up a new home.
When you live in the same place for 30+ years you accumulate “stuff” that is sentimental and has memories attached that no one else understands. It was so helpful to have my family step in and sort through stuff with me. They could help me determine what was actually valuable versus something I was just emotionally attached to.
We had boxes for keep, toss, and donate and slowly but surely the garage started to clear out. Rather than feeling sad that I was getting rid of stuff, I had so many feelings of relief. I was so glad that I could let go of so much stuff I hadn’t even realized were weighing me down. Of course, I kept some mementos but for the most part, I started a whole new chapter in my life when I moved into my new house.
Tips For Unpacking and/or Decluttering:
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can’t do it alone.
- Do a little at a time so it doesn’t overwhelm you and do one room at a time.
- Toss out the old expired things and become more aware of checking labels on a regular basis
- Donate or give away stuff you don’t need. It will give you a sense of freedom.
- Keep in the back of your mind…Do I want my family to have to go through all of this when I’m gone? This gives you a great incentive to toss sentimental junk.
Once you have finally completed your unpacking and decluttering, you will feel a sense of peace and excitement and look forward to a new beginning. It is refreshing to start over with new things and you will start to build new memories. With that in mind, it makes you let go of unimportant junk that clutters your life, weighs you down, and stresses you out. It’s amazing how I don’t miss a thing that I got rid of and am living with much less but still have more than enough!