I had a real empty nest. Both my boys moved out and my husband and I divorced. It was just me and my zoo in a big house; a house that needed cleaning and heating. Time to make a change. Downsizing time! My house, including the garage, was over 2800 sq ft. My new place is a townhouse of just over 1800 sq.ft. There was a lot of purging to do.

I was determined not to downsize the way my parents did where they kept everything and just squeezed it all into a smaller space.

Some of it was fun. The truckload of stuff that went to recycling and the dump along with the Great Mattress Migration was a good day with my sons. Both my boys needed new mattresses so we took the IKEA queen bed from the guest room (the heaviest bed ever!) and the new memory foam mattress I had bought for the international students and replaced their worn out beds. The old beds were packed into a trunk and delivered to the dump.

The dump was an amazing emotional experience. I was stressing about a lot whether the items we were disposing of could be reused…..   once they hit the dump I experienced a huge sense of relief. Huge!  I was so pumped by the time the truck was empty. All the angst just disappeared.

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I am a crafty, handy person so I found a place with an area that could be used for storage of tools and a workspace. However, this is not a living space so even with, what I thought was purging, I struggle with space. I need smaller living room furniture and dining room furniture. The sewing room is working out well so far. For the sake of my pets I am glad I kept the furniture so there were familiar things in the new place. I think this helped them to adapt quickly. Keeping their stress down was a priority.

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The most important factors to consider.

I have a few words of advice for my fellow downsizers:

While you are purging and packing find someone to help you who has little or no emotional attachment to your things. Don’t argue with them. One of my sons is like me – there is a memory in everything. My younger son has no sentiment or more accurately he doesn’t place value on things or hold his memories in them. Having him around was a blessing. He kept me clear on what truly had value. Is it the thing or the memory? My friend was great too. “If it’s chipped it’s not getting packed!” is her motto and she made me see that those Spongebob Squarepants mugs were fun but it was time to let them go along with many similar things.

Accept that some things are better in the garbage than holding on to them to try and find a use for them.

Make sure it is not exam week when you are packing and moving if you need your college students to give you a hand. I just did without because I wanted them to be able to focus on their exams and not sharing my stress, but it would have been nice if they had been available even for emotional support.

Find a good mover – I had a recommendation from a friend.

Label your boxes with their destination location in the new place. AND put an inventory on the boxes!! I did have my “need it right away boxes” but I did not put information about the contents on my boxes and this was a mistake. I unpacked boxes that could have waited and couldn’t find boxes with vital items in it.

Check out Pinterest. Search “Moving tips” and you will have many collections of moving ideas. My favorite tip was using the roll of plastic wrap to wrap all sorts of unwieldy items.  Here are a couple of examples of how much easier it made packing stuff.

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I just wrapped my thread and they were all nice and neat. The fabric was protected too.
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Awkward items can be wrapped up and made easy to move with this stretchy plastic wrap.

My last word is that it is important to recognize that this is going to be a stressful, emotional experience. The selling, buying, packing and moving are all full of stress. You will find yourself handling many unfamiliar situations and they won’t be easy. Having an emotional game plan would be helpful. Make a plan for when you begin to feel overwhelmed – go for a walk, do yoga, meditate, sing show tunes, dance…choose something that brings you joy and lets you find your center. I had times when I seriously doubted my ability to make the right decision. What if I chose a place I didn’t like?? It drove me crazy as I was making this decision all on my own. I sang and danced a lot. I can’t worry about my inadequacies if I am busy putting dance steps together.

Downsizing is great! You get to relive a lot of great memories and evaluate your stuff, finding what is truly valuable.
We love our new home!

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Loving our new home

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20 Replies to “Downsizing. I did it…so can you!”

  1. I've downsized a few years ago and I feel so much better. The lack of unneeded space also had an impact on the way I consume today. I buy only the items I really need or that I really want. In addition, I look more for high quality and less quantity. Changing your consumption patterns will help you feeling great about having a smaller home. Highly recommended!
    1. I have noticed that too. My sons and I spent some time talking about presents that were not clutter and had purpose and meaning.
  2. Your advice about having someone along who isn't emotional about things is definitely a good idea! I am one of those people, so keeping a minimalist home comes naturally to me, and helping out my sisters during spring cleaning is a lot of fun! Our previous apartment was 600 sq. ft., so that was very minimal living, indeed! Now we have expanded to a 1000 sq. ft. place--probably a good thing with a baby on the way!
  3. Love this post. I'm not sure, but I could say that this looks like related to us. Right now, we're downsizing to the highest level by just taking 1 luggage each with few clothes. We're moving out of the US, will get a 1-way ticket and start exploring the world together. So far, we got few things at home, we're totally downsizing this year.
    1. That's very brave! I am so envious. It's amazing how little we can travel with and still be very comfortable. I hope it is wonderful.
  4. My husband and I moved over the summer and it was such a relief to start to throw away and donate things. We still have our old house and it still has contents inside that need to be sorted through, still but it's a process. I love throwing things away, it's weirdly freeing for me. My husband is the total opposite so getting him to part with things is harder but we're learning to compromise.
    1. I was astonished at the emotional lift that comes with getting rid of things. My father complains that we are throwing away his memories. Frustrating!
  5. Your dogs are so gorgeous first off! I definitely love downsizing, as I always remind myself I have everything I need and do not need any more. My parents were huge collectors and I believe hoarders. I throw things away and give things away left and right. This was a great read, thank you for sharing!

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