In the spring of 2013 by husband Murray and I decided that it was time for us to rightsize from our big house in New Hamburg where we raised our family, into something more size appropriate for our stage of life. At that point our two oldest boys were done college and living and working in Toronto. Our daughter Hayley had one more year of university remaining. I realized that most days Murray and I used 4 rooms in the house – the kitchen, the family room, the bathroom and our bedroom. The rest of the time I walked through the other empty rooms, and often thought to myself that they needed to be cleaned, but that we rarely used them.
Here is a photo of our home in New Hamburg.
For us, the idea of a smaller (right sized) home was appealing. We were perhaps making this decision younger than what other people did, but I think the nature of the work that I do prompted the decision for us. I see people, on a regular basis, who wait too long. Declining health sometimes puts people into ‘crisis mode’ and then decisions need to be made that are out of their control.
Murray is a Mr. Fix-it and loves to putter, so we knew that a house was still what we needed. We went down in size by over half, so I experienced all the challenges that older adults would in this downsizing process. We realized that for approximately 350 days a year it would just be Murray and I in our new space. We agreed together that there might be times (those other 15 days) when we would need to be really creative in how we used our new space and stretch it to its limits to house the guests that we had and the activities we wanted to enjoy. However, we felt that was a challenge we were willing to accept.
In April 2014 we moved into our tiny house, and we have enjoyed settling in.
Here is a photo of our new rightsized home in Kitchener!
As an organizer, I took it as my personal challenge to make every inch of space work for us. I had to make some tough decisions about what would go along with us to our new home.
I now know, from personal experience, what my clients go through as they handle and sort years of mementos and possessions that have been stored (perhaps out of sight and out of mind) in their family homes for years. Murray and I lived in our New Hamburg house for 25 years. There was a full basement and an attic. We had lots of space to accumulate without it being cluttered. As I got into those out of the way corners I realized a couple of things.
- It had been easy for us to just tuck things away rather than getting rid of them because we had the space to do so.
- Because of the nature of my work, and the fact that I was going to the Thrift Shop almost everyday, I had been fairly good at dropping things into the donation bag on a regular basis. The things I dropped into the bag though were the easy things!
- As I got into bins in our attic and basement I realized that every item I picked up gave me “a trip down memory lane”…….over and over and over again and that is what became emotionally exhausting and even painful at times.
- I realized that this pain & exhaustion is what my clients go through, and it gave me a new appreciation for the hard emotional work that is involved in this rightsizing process.
It is important to put a positive spin on what can be an emotional time of life. It is easy to find the negatives, but let’s look for the positives. Instead of referring to this process as downsizing consider it instead as rightsizing.
Let’s reflect for a few moments on the advantages of rightsizing:
- A new smaller residence can be comfortable and better suited to your current needs and physical abilities. It can be a mini version of the home that you have lived in for many years, complete with your most treasured possessions and memories.
Make the decisions now while you still have full control – don’t wait for a crisis situation because then you lose control.
- Experience relief of no longer having to deal with so much stuff and the satisfaction in knowing that unneeded belongings have gone to good use as you sell and donate them.
- It is much better to have a few treasures that you love and enjoy, rather than having lots of things you don’t particularly care about. By thinking quality not quantity you’ll simplify your life! What good does it do you to have boxes of stuff in your basement and attic that are covered in dust and contain who knows what? How much better to have the things you use and love stored in easily accessible spots.
- Depending on what type of rightsizing you are considering, you can experience freedom from meal prep, housework, yard work, home maintenance and more!
- If you are moving into retirement or assisted living you and your family have the peace of mind and security of knowing that help is at hand. This can mean less tension in family relationships!
- A new residence can also mean new friends, social activities and opportunities. Less isolation can bring lots of positive changes in daily routines and often results in improved health and renewed energy!
As people enter into the rightsizing process we acknowledge that during this stage of life you may be grieving the loss of:
- health, independence or marital status
- familiar routines
- your treasured possessions
- the family home
If you are supporting a parent or friend on this rightsizing journey, try to walk a mile in their shoes. It is very emotional. Offer your help as a support, not a judgement.
Want to read more on this topic of Rightsizing? Check out these other blogs
- Should I move or should I stay? A personal survey. Read more
- Rightsizing – your time to transition to a peaceful clutter free lifestyle. Read more
- Proven plan of action for navigating the rightsizing process. Read more
- Your step by step guide to mastering the rightsizing process. Read more
Our website offers some further thoughts on Senior’s Moves by Heart of the Matter.
How can our services help in the Rightsizing Process?
We often tell people that our Senior’s Move services are not “all or nothing”. We always offer a complimentary initial consultation and maybe learning a bit more about how we can help would be a good way to start your rightsizing process.
We can offer:
- encouragement from a neutral 3rd party
- help in creating a workable timeline for your process
- loads of resources that you can explore yourself or have us assist with (everything from junk removal, to on-line/live auction contacts, free furniture pick-up etc etc)
- physical help to sort things out
- floor planning assistance (helping to figure out what will fit in the new home)
- assistance with the evaluation process
- taking away donations to the Thrift Shop after work sessions together
- providing packing supplies
- booking our reliable movers
- watching over the move day process
- full unpack and set-up of new home
- taking away all used packing supplies for recycling
- and much more!
Contact us today to book your complimentary initial consultation. We want to be your success partners!
Check out this full length Rightsizing workshop that Donna & Rhonda did recently at the Woolwich Family Health Centre.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. ~Abraham Lincoln