06 Aug 5 “P’s” to Downsizing Your “Stuff” for a Newer, Freer YOU!
The lease is up on my house. The lease is up on my car. The “so to speak” lease is up on my son. My fourth and final child leaves for college in 20 days.
I guess these words are true: If you dream about something long enough, you can make it happen. I have certainly talked about—written about—thought about—and dreamt about–moving from Cincinnati to Chicago after my last child left home.
Simultaneously, my son and I are packing for our own, unknown adventures. Regardless of the adventure, packing is a #$%$$. Never mind, I have way more “stuff” than an 18 year old. Leave the emotions aside, the simple act of packing is just hard. The bubble wrap, the boxes, and why does the packing tape always get twisted? Is it just me, or does everyone lose the start of the roll of tape?
(See my “Five P” guide below on choosing which 20% stays, which 80% goes, to downsize for your new, mobile, freer life…Plan, Pile, Purge, Pack, Participate!)
Cincinnati is my hometown. It has been my nest. It has been my world. It is the place where ALL the “Stuff of My Life” happened. Until you move, you never realize how many people you know, how many “good-byes” that adds up to. The same woman has been grooming our various family pets for 19 years (longer than I was married!). The same woman at Starbucks knows my 3 pm complicated coffee order…and on and on and on… It is safe and familiar.
But I am trying to ready myself with a plan in place. Feeling like an astronaut, I am trying to stay focused on the task at hand. I am packing and counting days until “lift-off.”
No matter if you are moving down the street or actually moving your life—moving is moving. I have managed to come up with a list that I think you will find helpful. This is the “astronaut” organized part of me. The list maker! I call them…
The 5 P’s of Moving
Know where you are going and be realistic. I have finally bought the expensive measuring tape from the hardware store. Use it! Measure! If a wall is 90 inches, it is 90 inches. A 94 four inch couch is not going to fit. It never will. Be realistic on how much closet space there is or is not! Size up the kitchen cabinets. Do you really use 4 frying pans at the same time? Plan ahead and make decisions on real measurements. I no longer need an 8 piece toaster. It takes up half the counter space… and when is the next time (or the last time) I toasted 8 pieces of bread at the same time?
Start with making piles. Piles mean organization. Pile up what you know is the must haves. For me, this was family keepsakes. My grandmother’s candlesticks, photographs; my mother’s dishes. These are the things you know you cannot leave behind. Somehow these are the things that matter and can NEVER be replaced. These are the things that make us smile and connect us to our past. Make piles! Stuff that is a must have!
This is where the Hefty Duty garage bags are a necessity. Throw it away (or recycle!). These are the old papers, clutter, and boxes that have never been opened since your last move. It is time to throw away AP US History notes and tests. Even if your son got an “A” on the paper, let it go. Iphones are very handy. Take a picture of the “A” and store the photograph in your phone.
Another pile is “stuff” to be sold. Purging is hard. We love our stuff. We remember when we bought it, or where we wore it. But unless there is real meaning or purpose, it is time to let it go. How many white shirts or black pants do we actually wear? Try your “stuff” on. Will those size 26 jeans really ever fit?
I am not an eBay expert, but there are people who are. Find those people to sell your “stuff”. Consignment stores are great. Sometimes these stores will buy your “stuff” outright –and it is cash in your hand. Look into local auctions or on-line auctions. It is amazing how many people buy other peoples “stuff.” Sell it…and you must realize you won’t get what you paid for it—but it is better than hauling it with you.
I promise you will feel lighter knowing that the “stuff” you move is indeed “stuff” you love, cherish, need, and it all fits!!!
Be organized. Sharpee Markers, good untwistable tape and lots of newspaper and bubble wrap. Label each box specifically to avoid surprises when you unpack—know what is in every box. Don’t just write “clothes” on the box. Write “sweaters, hats, gloves.” What exactly is in the box labeled “kitchen?” Be efficient with supplies ready, and be specific.
There are so many homeless shelters, youth centers, schools and organizations are who in great need. Shamefully, there are countless people who have nothing. Your old pots and pans may seem useless—but trust me they will be put to good use.
You can’t sell mattresses, sheets and towels (bedbug issues)…but do you know how many people a night have no mattress or towels or clean sheets? Most organizations will pick up your “stuff”. You will get a tax deduction. However, more than anything, you will get the greatest satisfaction knowing that your unwanted or used “stuff” is making a real difference in someone’s life.
Clothes that you can’t sell will fit someone in need. Your old suit will help someone find a job. Your daughter’s old prom dress will be worn by a girl who might never get a prom dress. Even better—if you have the shoes to match!
Be mindful. Be thoughtful. Be kind. Be generous. Be creative—find the places with the greatest need. Sadly, there are so many places…
It’s really real. The day is here. I am indeed moving. My thoughts juggle hourly between terrified and thrilled.
At this moment, I need to be following my own advice and continue packing and piling. Saying good-bye is hard, but journeying on is extremely exciting. Whatever your journey… I am wishing all of us good luck…I will keep you posted!