I feel their pain. I've heard them describe being exhausted by how much they have already accomplished, while also sharing the dread of continuing struggles ahead.
The number one tip I can give anyone on the subject of downsizing is: Start Now. Today. This evening. Tomorrow. This weekend. And then keep at it.
With this post I'd like to suggest you practice a couple of things: throwing things away (or recycling), and learning to take no for an answer. These will serve you well in your downsizing journey, believe me!
Start with your kitchen junk drawer - everyone has one! It's okay to throw away the pack of matches, the loose toothpicks, used birthday candles, dried out rubber bands or pens that have been in there for eons. The junk drawer is a good place to set the tone for your downsize because, even though I'm a huge recycler and re-user, there are some things that simply must be thrown away.
A lot of seniors that I work with do not like to throw ANYTHING away. It's hard for them. And that's understandable. Perhaps they've lived through the Depression. They grew up in an era where broken or worn items were actually repaired! But to those seniors – and you know who you are – I say practice throwing things away with the junk drawer. Are there old menus in there for places you’ve not ordered from in years? Toss them! Batteries that you haven't seen in years? Toss them! Remotes to equipment that is long gone? Toss them, too!
When the junk drawer contains only items that you use frequently, move on to another fairly easy spot: the laundry room. Many laundry rooms hold items that haven't been used in years, way up on the high shelves, propped next to the utility sink, or behind the water heater.
If you find something in the laundry room that you don't use but you think someone else can, then offer it to them or donate it. But don't push it on them! Here is where you practice actually hearing when someone declines your offer and then take that no as their answer. Donate the item instead. I've known people who have accepted items that were pushed on them that they didn't really want or need, and then they feel they need to hold on to it because "it was a gift" or "they'll expect to see it when they come over." When you push items on someone you're just pushing the responsibility for donating that item on your friend or family member, and that's not helpful. Better to donate the item and have someone who really wants it purchase it, with the proceeds going to charity.
After the laundry room move on to another bite-sized spot in your house and see if you can keep the momentum going! Suggestions: linen closets, the top shelf of any closet, then the floor of that closet, then the middle. How about removing expired foods or spices or other items not used in years from the pantry, including appliances? Or move on to just one shelf in the basement/attic, then move to one more at a later time. You get the idea!
Please share this post with anyone you know who is downsizing or is helping someone else to downsize. They'll thank you, I'm sure! I'd LOVE to hear about your progress, so please keep me in the loop!