I know it sounds harsh, but baby boomers, that’s our reality.
Over the past 30 to 40 years we bought and accumulated a lot of “stuff.” As we bought bigger and bigger houses we bought ever more stuff… or maybe we inherited a lot of it from our parents. Regardless of where it came from, our baby boomer generation owns an extraordinary amount of “stuff,” and at some point as we age or pass on, someone will have to deal with it.
Why not declutter now while we still can so our kids don’t have to?
- If you’ve already decluttered and downsized, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
- If you are still living in the same home that you raised your kids in, have you ever taken the time to acknowledge how much stuff you already have?
If you have really been thinking about decluttering and eventually downsizing to a smaller home, here are quick ways to get started:
- Start noticing the things you use every day and the things you don’t. (Furniture, clothing, books)
- Start noticing the duplicates, triplicates, or any multiples of things you don’t need, want or use.
- Start noticing rooms in your house that are rarely or never used. What is in the closets, drawers or cabinets that are taking up space?
- Start noticing boxes in the basement, attic, and closet that you have no idea what is even in them.
- Walk from room to room and just notice all of the things you have accumulated but may have forgotten they are even there.
- Start noticing how much stuff you have in your closets, drawers, cabinets, pantry, basement, garage, attic, and if you have a storage unit look there as well.
- In each area begin to ask yourself what you want, don’t want, need and don’t need.
- Then ask yourself, is it worth the time, money and energy you expend on buying, managing, organizing and maintaining all of your stuff?
Overwhelming, but revealing, isn’t it?
- What do you do with a lifetime of stuff?
- Where do you begin?
- How do you decide what’s worth keeping or not?
In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, “Downsizing Your Home is Hard. How to Decide What’s Worth Keeping?” (https://www.wsj.com/articles/downsizing-your-home-is-hard-how-to-decide-whats-worth-keeping-11579705258?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=8) Beth DeCarbo interviewed several people who have dealt with the daunting task of decluttering and downsizing. One quote from her article, “After spending three days cleaning out my mother’s condo, I swore I would never put my children through the agony.”
The other day, while in one of my favorite coffee shops, I overheard two young women discussing how they dreaded having to clean out all of their parents stuff when the time comes. They were both worried because their parents were getting “older” (probably baby boomers!), and they struggled with how to move their parents when they could no longer live in their big homes, clean out and dispose of their years of stuff and all the while, managing their own family, career and life. The reality they both faced was that they were living in small urban apartments and did not want to clutter their smaller spaces with stuff they didn’t like or want. It made me sad to overhear that conversation because if we baby boomers take responsibility for decluttering and downsizing while we are still healthy, our kids won’t have to worry about this.
Baby boomers, if you love your kids, why not start decluttering and downsizing before our kids have to do it for us? If you haven’t read, “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning. How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter” by Margareta Magnusson (https://www.amazon.com/Gentle-Art-Swedish-Death-Cleaning/dp/1501173243), I highly recommend this practical, yet compassionate approach of taking responsibility for our own stuff while we can so we don’t leave it as a burden to our family.
Downsize by Decluttering
Even if you are not actually ready yet to move to a smaller home, you may want to consider what I call “Downsize By Decluttering” (chapter 7 in my book) (https://www.amazon.com/Downsize-Your-Life-Upgrade-Lifestyle/dp/1733433805/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=rita+wilkins&qid=1580939195&s=books&sr=1-1) so you can begin to reap some of the benefits of living a simpler, less cluttered life with less stuff right now…. And reap the even bigger benefits… more quality time with your kids and peace of mind that your kids won’t have to deal with it later on.