5 minute read

Your guide to telling the kids that you're downsizing

Telling the kids about retirement and downsizing
As we approach retirement, there comes a realisation that we must start to think about what we would like our life to look like. Of course, the years of accumulated experience and a life of memories that have been built are entirely priceless. Nonetheless, there does remain a lingering question mark on what to do with all that “stuff” that has piled up over the years.

From dust collectors to something that hasn’t even left its original box, to sentimental items and a tea towel passed down through the generations, we all have those things that are taking up space around the home. Now that the days of peaceful and relaxing retirement lay ahead and the kids have well and truly flown the nest, we ask ourselves; why do we still have all this stuff?

While it might make for a great playground of mysteries for the grandkids, what about the practicality of it all?

Making the decision to downsize can be a daunting one, but it can absolutely lead to a bigger life. There is an age old saying “Possessions Possess” and we often hear our homeowners express a deep sense of relief when they have downsized. There is less physical clutter, less clutter in the mind and best of all — less to clean!

Even still, there are many things to consider when downsizing, especially telling the children. This guide is here to help you address some of the concerns you might have when considering downsizing your family home, whether to Lifestyle Communities®, a smaller home, an apartment or within a retirement living option.

This guide is here to help address some of the concerns you might have when considering downsizing your family home.

Downsizing the family home:

First things first, it’s time to take a long hard look around the house. What things are really hiding in there? How many China plates do we have that we’re saving for ‘special occasions’? Is there a box random odds and ends that no one has ever actually opened? When was the last time you even looked under the beds?

Over the years, it is totally normal to accumulate things and store them away mindlessly. Now is the time to carefully consider what we would like to keep and what we could relocate to a new home. What items are useful to us? Do we really need 4 different vegetable peelers? Before you do anything else, just take a wander through the rooms of the house. While doing so, look closely at some of the knick knacks and dust collectors. No doubt, within one casual look you could almost fill a whole bag with things you want to remove.

Approaching the conversation with the kids:

Now, for many families, this can be a very sensitive topic. Even if you’ve moved to a new house before, for many, home is where the heart is and that includes where their parents live and where their favourite familiar items are living. Homes hold many precious memories but we’ll do well to remember that our memories are housed in our minds, not in our belongings.

Navigating this conversation can be a difficult one, but the first step in any successful communication is to approach the topic honestly, with empathy, understanding and in adopting a supportive tone. Your children may have many concerns, but it will do them well to be reminded that the priority in downsizing is to help ease any stress that has occurred through home maintenance and the accumulation of clutter over the years. In the end, kids often just want to know that their parents will be happy and that their memories and beloved possessions will not be forgotten.

Another concern many children have throughout the downsizing process is ensuring the beloved memories will be passed along to their children as well. One tip that we love is to take photos of sentimental items and put print them to store in photo albums. They can be kept in a bookcase in your new home or given to children or grandchildren as gifts to show the meaning of these items we hold dear to our hearts.

If you want to save even more space, why not go digital? Upload your photos to social media, store them in an online photo album like Flipping Book or purchase a digital photo frame?

We also love these DIY photo ideas on Pinterest:

Source: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

What to do with the things left unwanted?

Naturally, there will be many questions about what to do with everything and where things will go. This is a perfect chance to let the kids in and offer them items they may want. If someone has had their eye on that salad bowl for years, let them have it. If another has been desperate for a bookshelf in their home, now is the time!

After you’ve spoken to the kids and they’ve put the sentimental stamp on what the items they would love to take off your hands, you need to figure out what to with what is leftover. This can seem like an arduous task, but it doesn’t have to be.

The key is finding a simple and effective method to stick to. Using a traffic light system of sticky notes can be a great way to simplify this task. Place a green note on things to stay, an orange note on the undecided objects, and a red note on items that must go. You could even use this same system when you invite the kids in to “mark” items they would love to keep.

With anything that you decide you do not want, consider donating it to charity, giving away items to friends or neighbours, holding a garage sale or selling items on Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace.

Feel free to get the kids involved with helping you dispose of any unwanted items. After all — they’re part of the reason you have so many things to declutter in the move!

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