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Downsizing Times Two

You and your spouse are downsizing and looking forward to a smaller place with fewer “to dos.” You know where you are moving and have a general idea of what you will take. You think it will be easy working side by side. This isn’t always the case.

Even with the same goal, people don’t always take the same path and it’s easier to get rid of someone else’s stuff. Here are some tips to smooth the process.

Have a written plan. The process of putting it in writing will show if you aren’t on the same page. Use this to reach agreement and serve as the “to do” list. If you are selling your home ask your realtor where best to focus your efforts and money in terms of repairs and preparation. Add these suggestions to your list.

Pick the low hanging fruit. When letting go focus first on those cherished items that you can easily bid farewell. The “why do I have these?” items can be removed quickly to make room for your more serious sorting and give you an early sense of accomplishment.

If the item doesn’t fit into the “I love this” or “why do I have this” categories, but you still aren’t sure, set it aside in the “maybe” category. As you begin to see how much you have in the “love” category, you will be able to get rid of these “maybes” more easily.

Furniture which won’t fit into the smaller place is easy, photos and family heirlooms harder. Gather photos in one place and pack together, but don’t spend time sorting (aka looking at instead of doing something else) now. Tell your family about any heirlooms or prized items you don’t plan to keep so they have the opportunity to adopt these. Give a deadline for pick up.

Focus on your own stuff first. If your partner seems less committed about her stuff, don’t worry about that for now. After watching you downsize she will be ready to make more decisions.

Its okay to offer help, but remember there are good and bad ways to “help.” Avoid the tone of voice which implies judgment, impatience or annoyance. Ask questions to help clarify feelings about the item. (No, not “what the heck are you still keeping that for?”) Try these instead and remember, tone of voice is everything:

  • I have noticed that you haven’t used “object” in a long time. Do you envision using it more after we move?

  • I have noticed that when you look at that picture you get mad at your brother. Is there something else that reminds you of him in a happier way?

  • Neither of us have looked at any of these books in a long time. Can we donate them to the library so other people can enjoy them?

  • Your great grandmother’s dishes are beautiful and I hate that we aren’t using them. Can we find someone who will?

Remain non-confrontational and non-judgmental. There might be a reasonable rationale for keeping the item and your spouse will be more willing to let go if not feeling defensive.

The more decisions you make, the harder decisions get. If you find yourself going from room to room without results, take a break. Decision fatigue is real. Focus your efforts in one room and work there until done. It is too easy to wander off, get distracted, and avoid decision making.

On the other hand, some people enjoy the downsizing process and find it gets easier. If you are one of those folks, great! If not, call Kraft Transitions to help make the process smoother and easier on everyone’s nerves. Call 707.362.3223,

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