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Retiring or new at empty nesting? Perfect time to downsize

Have you made the decision to retire from the workforce? Or, perhaps all your children are now adults and have moved out, making you an “empty nester.”

Retirement or becoming an empty nester is the perfect time to downsize your belongings, even if you are not quite ready to move to a smaller home. Downsizing our home or our belongings is a tough thing to do, especially emotionally. I know because I’ve been there!

Learning to let go

Downsizing at this stage is a lot more about letting go of “stuff” you no longer use or value and looking forward to a new future. Enjoying this new season of life doesn’t mean we have to give up our cherished memories, but sometimes we need help letting go of the physical things we associate with those memories. I work closely with each client to compassionately help them decide what to keep and what can be passed on for someone else to enjoy.

The process of downsizing your home and preparing for the next life stages after retirement brings a lot of emotions, as well as tasks you need to do. That’s why I’m partnering with an attorney friend to write a book to guide people through all the necessary considerations involved with navigating retirement and beyond.

Are you moving?

Many of my clients are clearly nowhere near ready to move into a retirement home but they do realize that having a house full of “stuff” that is big enough for an entire family is simply more trouble than it’s worth. Obviously, if you are moving from a larger space to a smaller space, you can’t take everything with you. Decide before it is time to pack what you want to take with you and what you can let go.

Downsize while it is easy

At this stage of your life, you’re likely to still be able to do a lot of work on your own. As we age, naturally our bodies make it harder to do physical work. I encourage you to start the downsizing process while you’re still able to do the work, even with help. This will reduce stress and free you up to enjoy more adventures.

Avoid the ‘Boomer Burden’

The “Boomer Burden” is a term based on the book of the same name by Julie Hall. The concept is that Baby Boomer parents have accumulated so much stuff that they are now burdening their children with it when they either move into assisted living or pass away. While it’s true that your children may want a few keepsakes, most of your stuff will just be something that creates stress and burden, including financial burden.

If you love your children, I can’t tell you how important it is for you to not do this to them! Reduce the extraneous belongings now so your children aren’t forced to deal with it later. Ask your children and grandchildren what items are important to them that they might want. Any items that you no longer use, or they don’t want should be donated or tossed out.

Avoid OCD (Over Consumer Disorder)

Once you have reduced your clutter, it is important to not get yourself back into the same position again! This is especially important if you move to a smaller space because too many belongings will be even more stressful in a smaller living area.

I call the urge to over consume or over purchase “OCD”, which stands for Over Consumer Disorder. Consider using the “one-in-one-out” method: If you want to purchase something, you must also get rid of something. This will help you stay uncluttered but also help you evaluate what belongings are truly necessary.

Need help?

I have helped many clients go through the emotional process of deciding what they need to keep and what is OK for them to let go. More importantly, what they need to let go. If you need help with this process, or perhaps you have parents who need help with this process, I’d be honored to help!

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