Here I am – on the eve on my 50th birthday, writing about downsizing in 5 simple steps.
If you would have told me a year ago that I would be living in a condo in Scottsdale on my next birthday, I would never have believed you – but life sometimes hands you crazy, fun, adventures.
It’s been a hectic summer here at Mojo and Moxie, BUT, we are ready to get back into it and hoping you are excited for some new blog posts and fun conversations.
If you follow us, you might know that my family took the plunge and moved to the United States in August. Yup! Mojo and Moxie has gone North American!! So, needless to say, I’ve got lots of tips and tricks and epic fails to share with you about my adventures.
Danni and I decided to start with DOWNSIZING – as many of us are starting to think about what that might look like as we head into this next phase of life with kids leaving the nest and rooms emptying.
So, based on my experience over the last year with downsizing from our large family, forever home to a smaller space – here is the Mojo and Moxie guide to downsizing in 5 simple steps.
Time is your Friend – Downsizing 101
I know this might sound obvious, but if you think you are going to downsize your home in a week, or even two – you are a much more organized person than I and it could spell disaster…
I have three (almost) grown children and I needed the time to go through each and every drawer and each and every memory. You might be surprised at how long this takes, mingled in with the continuing tasks of everyday life, but trust me… it takes time!
I worked fastidiously, room to room so that I felt some sort of achievement each day. Somedays, it was as simple as cleaning out the junk drawer in the kitchen. Others it was tackling the office and getting rid of old papers, filing and packaging tax returns we needed to store.
To put it simply, if you’ve lived in your home for awhile, you are going to have a crap load of – well, crap to get rid of, and sort through. Give yourself some time to do it.
Sell / Charity / Gift / Dispose- Downsizing 101
One of the greatest gifts my parents gave me in helping with our move, was being our “charity drop off person.”
You see – one of the things I hate the most about organizing, is having the piles. You know the ones.
The Charity pile
The Sell pile
The Junk Pile
The “I think so and so would like this” Pile
To put it simply – I hate piles. When I am cleaning and organizing a room, at the end of it all, I just don’t want a bunch of piles – I want that stuff out of my house!! Well – my parents (bless their hearts) were my go-to for this. Almost every day while I was in the crux of organizing, they backed up their car and took a load to charity.
This might seem like a small gesture, but let me tell you – it was SUCH a DREAM! No junk lying around and no time for my teens to come wandering down to the basement to find some random stuffed animal they haven’t noticed in 5 years and wanting it back in their room 🙂
So – if you have a friend, a parent, or a teen who wants some extra gas money – this is a way to make them feel useful and to really help you out!
And if you don’t have anyone interested in this job – guess what – there are companies that do this sort of thing and do the sorting for you.
We used a company called Home Sweet Home for our larger and last minute items and they were awesome.
However you choose to get rid of your piles, just be diligent in following through and moving the items out, otherwise you’ll be back where you started in no time.
Memory Boxes Simplified – Downsizing 101
If you have kids or not, most likely you have some sort of collection of memories you are not prepared to part with. I wanted our memory boxes to be stackable, identifiable and sturdy because they were to hold our most precious memories from the past 50 years.
I absolutely love these black and yellow bins from the local home improvement store, for keeping our memories safe. They are really great quality, and stack beautifully. Each of us in the family was given bins to fill from our previously stored memory bins.
It is amazing how many things are not considered “meaningful memories” anymore after the years pass.
I went through old high school photos, letters, my graduation corsage, jewelry, and diplomas and degree – and now they are all safe and sound in waterproof bins. Our family of five all have our memory bins labelled and sorted in these easy to find bins.
Take the time to do this – trust me.
When the kids are ready to move to their own place – guess what – those bins will go with them. No sorting through their old stuff and trying to get it out of your garage – it is their problem now! 🙂
Make a Plan – Downsizing 101
Making a plan is one of the most important of the 5 simple steps to downsizing. Ahead of any organizing and purging, I made a spreadsheet of items I knew would go to my new home, a list of things I would need to purchase, and a list of things I would need to sell. This sounds obvious and simple (and it is) but with out walking your home, and writing absolutely everything down, there are things you will forget. We spent some time creating a detailed list of the furniture, art, sports memorabilia, and don’t forget the outside items – that we would need to either store, keep with us, or sell.
Because I knew where we were going, I then marked each piece that would fit into our new home – not guessing whether it would work or not – but measuring both the space and the furniture. Too many times you can “think” something is going to fit – only to have it not work in your space and then you are left with a piece of furniture you either have to sell, or find a place for. I was determined not to bring any items across the border that I didn’t need or want. I didn’t want to waste precious weight on our moving truck nor pay for storage or additional moving fees if needed. Being this organized works mentally, but also helps the budget! 🙂
Being on the other end of it all now, I can say that this approach worked amazing for us. When we moved into our new, smaller space, I had a place and a plan for every piece. Even the artwork was carefully thought out… My motivation was the thought of getting to my fresh new space, feeling that things were cleaned and sorted and only the “best of the best” made the trip.
Doing this meant WAY more work on the front end – meaning, I got rid of, and sorted through a LOT ahead of time. There were definitely moments that I felt overwhelmed during this process. At times, there were days I was almost paralyzed by the mountain of work I felt lay ahead. But day by day, hour by hour it slowly got done.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time…
Breathe and take some time for FUN
Downsizing can be very overwhelming. For me, as much as I was moving to a smaller space – I was also leaving my home town and all of the special people that live in it.
Yes, it felt like too much at times. But I have to tell you that keeping perspective and making time for the people I loved, really kept my life in balance over the past 6 months.
My advice is to do the work (obviously) but enjoy and make time for the play as well. I wanted this move to feel as stress free as possible, but I also wanted to make sure I spent time with all of the people I would not see on the daily after my move.
Being a control freak, this feeling of my life being suddenly not super organized and compartmentalized was difficult for me. It left me feeling unsettled. I didn’t sleep well and I felt a sense of uncomfortable-ness during the entire process. However, when I took time to play a round of golf with Danni and our husbands I always felt better. Chatting with a girlfriend, going for dinners and making time for “normal” also helped!
So #5 in the Mojo and Moxie guide to downsizing in 5 simple steps is this: Just breathe and have fun. It will all get done.
Looking forward to bringing you lots of interesting content from Arizona matched with Danni’s Canadian side… We are back with more consistent content going forward!
If you are starting to think about Thanksgiving… why not check out our Favourite Thanksgiving Blog Posts – Canadian Thanksgiving is creeping up… 🙂