Decluttering and downsizing can be a challenging process. If you've lived in your home for many years, you've probably accumulated a lot of stuff you no longer need in your closets, basement, and attic. Sorting through and parting with personal items is often difficult because of our emotional association with them. But the freedom and calm that comes from a decluttered home is worth it in the end.
"We understand that downsizing can be emotional and that's okay," says Diane Thometz, personal moving consultant at Riderwood, an Erickson Living developed and managed community in Silver Spring, Maryland. "Tell yourself you enjoyed these items and have wonderful memories and it's okay to release them."
The coronavirus pandemic in recent months meant we all spent a lot more time at home. But that doesn't mean you have to put your plans to downsize and move to a retirement community on hold. In fact, Thometz says this period of sheltering-in-place has created a unique opportunity to really focus on decluttering.
"During these challenging times, we're spending a lot of time in our homes," she says. "The silver lining is we now have the time to do all the things we said we didn't have the time to do, such as downsizing. This is the best time to get organized, which will get you ready for your future move."
If you're feeling motivated to use your extra time at home to start decluttering, Thometz recommends what she calls "habit stacking." By adding downsizing to already-established habits, it's easy to work it into your routine.
"Each morning you wake up, have coffee, read the paper, go for a walk, and then work on downsizing for 20 minutes," she says. "Before you know it, downsizing becomes part of your morning routine."
Thometz and fellow Personal Moving Consultant Jennifer Hill also share these tips to make decluttering successful:
• Put the task of downsizing in your calendar as an appointment.
• Give yourself 20 minutes each day toward downsizing.
• Start in an unemotional area, such as a kitchen cabinet, junk drawer, or linen closet.
• Only have a yes or no pile. Do not have a maybe pile.
The maybe pile then becomes the pile that never goes away. Although Thometz and Hill put home visits on hold during, they are still available to help prospective Riderwood residents with the downsizing process. They have been hosting weekly downsizing seminars on Zoom for priority list members. They have also been doing virtual downsizing and floor planning appointments using Zoom or FaceTime.
"It's a lot of fun since we can virtually show our inventory and complete a floor plan design in the apartment," Thometz says. "We can also see what you have in your house and guide you through different areas of your home."
Thometz and Hill work with a variety of downsizing and moving businesses to help residents with their moves to Riderwood. While certain companies were closed due to coronavirus, Thometz says many others have adapted in order to continue helping seniors with decluttering and moving during the pandemic. Some downsizing companies are able to store items for customers to donate to charity at a later date, and moving companies are operating with extra safety precautions in place. Thometz says some downsizing companies can even do virtual sessions or go into clients' homes wearing protective gear.
"Wayforth, the senior move managing company that we work with, will even drop off a downsizing kit to help you get started," Thometz says. "It consists of boxes, bags, colored post-it notes, markers, and more."
Consider Riderwood if you’re interested in living in a connected and engaged senior independent living community. Beautiful walking paths, gardens, resort-style amenities, an on-site medical center staffed by full-time medical professionals, and new friends await. Request more information today.