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Spring-cleaning and downsizing go hand in hand

Those in the know have tips to get you started

Created date

February 23rd, 2015
woman helping to declutter a house


After a long and chilly winter, many of us are eager to throw open the windows and start clearing out some of the clutter that’s accumulated while we’ve been hibernating indoors. If you’re retired and considering moving to a smaller home at some point, spring is an ideal time to jump start your downsizing process. 

As personal moving consultant at

“The spring weather gives us a renewed energy to start projects such as downsizing that we’ve been putting off all winter,” Thometz says. “The days start to get longer, which is emotionally motivating to begin on an area of your house that needs some attention. By focusing on downsizing, you can look forward to enjoying the lifestyle that Riderwood will provide.”

As one of her complimentary services to prospective Riderwood residents, Thometz refers a variety of moving professionals. She frequently works with downsizing expert Yvonne Quade of Let’s Move, LLC, who has helped many people move to the community. 

We asked Quade for some inside tips on how to make downsizing a bit easier by combining it with your spring-cleaning. Here’s what she had to say.

If I’m already planning to do some spring-cleaning this year, how can I begin downsizing during that process?

A: Set goals and write them down. Do a little bit of downsizing every day. When you’re dusting that bookcase, review the titles of the books as you pull them out and decide if you’d like to keep them or pass them on to someone who may appreciate and enjoy them. Maybe your local library will accept them for resale or a local charity will take them. 

Pick one area in your home that you’d like to target. If you are sorting through the shoes in your closet, why not drop the shoes you no longer wear into a bag and donate them? 

The same idea applies with clothes you no longer wear. Keep a bag near your closet that you can fill with clothes you’d like to share with friends or donate to a worthwhile cause.

I’m having trouble getting started. What are the easiest areas to begin downsizing?

A: Start small. I encourage people to start on the linen closet. It’s easy. It’s a non-emotional area, and it’s small. Downsizing the linen closet can be completed in a short amount of time, and the accomplishment will reinforce your efforts to continue. Check it off your list! Keep the momentum going!

Move to the kitchen. People moving to Riderwood look forward to a simplified lifestyle, which includes eating dinner in one of the many restaurants on campus each night. They actually look forward to purging those large pots and pans! 

Start with one drawer. Consolidate utensils where necessary; donate duplicate items and small appliances that are not used anymore. Throw away expired food and donate other unwanted food to a local food bank. 

All that Tupperware? Recycle mismatched lids and bottoms, and donate the larger pieces since you won’t have large leftovers. We remind our clients that Riderwood is cooking dinner each night—and they do the dishes, too!

I’m not planning to move this year, why do I need to start downsizing now?

A: Start early. Whether you’re moving in two months or two years, it’s never too early to begin the downsizing process. The early start affords you the time to go through your possessions without the pressure of a deadline. You can be thorough and confident that you are moving only the things you need, want, and love to your new apartment home.

“Shred as you go.”  It’s a phrase we repeat often, particularly after you do your taxes every spring. It is most important to shred documents that have your Social Security number on them. Think about purchasing a small family shredder. They are inexpensive and can be purchased at your local office supply store. 

Why is spring a good time to work on

A: Spring is a terrific time to downsize! The sun is shining, the windows are open, and the air is fresh. Our days are getting longer, and there’s a renewed energy. Spring is the time for new beginnings, and it’s the ideal time for downsizing. Downsizing and decluttering while spring-cleaning is a natural pairing.  

How does Let’s Move help prospective Riderwood residents with their downsizing process?

A: We offer one-on-one assistance. Our project managers work with prospective residents to help with the physical aspect of downsizing as well as providing advice and encouragement. We can clear an attic and garage. We can climb a ladder to reach top cabinet shelves and crawl to the back of a closet to pull items out for review. 

Our clients make all the decisions of what to keep and what to pass along. We box and bag items for family, donation, recycling, or trash. We are great cheerleaders and encourage our clients to keep the momentum going. 

On occasion, we may assign “homework” so that clients can continue the process on their own. Many prospective residents understand that downsizing can be freeing, and it leads to a simplified lifestyle.

Acknowledge the emotional component of downsizing. In some cases, downsizing may be emotional and a bit stressful. It’s wise to ask a professional downsizer for guidance. We can help keep you on track with a plan, encourage you to continue the journey, cheer you along the way, and share some of your memories. 

I consider myself fortunate to work with prospective Riderwood residents. My favorite part of my job is listening to my clients’ history and their stories as they downsize. Many clients enjoy sharing their memories and a glimpse of the past with other people.