By Rita Wilkins
The Downsizing Designer

As many of you know, as a designer for over 38 years, I’ve helped clients upsize, downsize, declutter, and “right size” their homes.

Moving is a challenge no matter what your age or size of home, but there’s something different and unique when you choose to downsize and declutter in your 60s.

If you’re in your 60s, an empty nester, and getting ready for retirement, are you wondering why downsizing is so emotional?

In many ways, downsizing at this stage of your life seems like it should be an exciting new chapter… an opportunity to experience more time and freedom to pursue those things you’ve been putting off for many years.

One part of you really wants to downsize, live a simpler life with less because it just makes sense.

Your house that was once the perfect size for you and your growing family is now too big with too many unused rooms and it takes way too much time and effort to maintain it at this stage of your life.

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And yet, the other part of you is second-guessing whether it’s the right move to make or not.

What if I don’t like it?

What if I miss the old house and neighborhood?

What if I have to downsize again in the future? 

Even if, you realize that your 60s is the perfect time to downsize because…

  • You’re still healthy and active
  • You’re now an empty nester
  • You’re planning to retire soon

You are still questioning whether you should downsize or not. You’re stuck.

You decide not to decide right now.

Before you defer your downsizing decision and perhaps wait until it’s too late, it’s important to understand how emotions might be preventing you from embracing the opportunity to experience a whole new chapter of your life.

It’s important to deal with your emotions before you start dealing with your stuff.

For those of you who know and follow me as the “Downsizing Designer”, you expect me to address all things related to downsizing and decluttering… both good and bad.

I’d like to address the emotional sides of downsizing in your 60s and I’m going to ask you to confront these emotions yourself because if you want to have a successful downsizing and decluttering journey…

You’ll have to dig deep so you can understand

  • why downsizing is so emotional
  • why it’s so different for many
  • why you can’t decide if and when to downsize

Top 7 Reasons Why Downsizing Can Be So Emotional

1. It’s a reminder that you’re getting older

Ouch! That hurts! But it’s true. Letting go of the big house is a reminder that life is changing.

There was a time when you had a young family, you chose to upsize. You were in the building and accumulating stage of life.

At 60, it is the season of your life when you are beginning to face the fact that you are aging, no longer need the big house, and downsizing becomes more attractive. It’s not easy to face the fact that we have more years behind us then we have ahead of us.

How to deal with this emotion:

  • Acknowledge you’re getting older.
  • Be kind to yourself. Move On.

2.  It’s sad to leave your family homestead

It’s difficult to say goodbye to the place you raised your kids where many memories were made. It’s like leaving a part of you behind.

How to deal with this emotion:

·       Accept that it’s time to move on to a simpler more manageable house.

·       Embrace this special time of your life so you can make new memories in your new home.

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3. You’re concerned that downsizing is “downgrading”

There’s often a certain amount of embarrassment that goes with moving to a smaller home especially if many of your family and friends still have their big houses. What you will soon realize is that when you live with less, in a smaller home, you will have more time, freedom, and energy to enjoy your life more.

How to deal with this emotion:

·       Reframe your thinking that downsizing to a smaller home will give you more time, energy, and freedom.

·       Focus on what you’ll gain not what you will lose. It is a new adventure, a new life.

4. You’re feeling guilty

Sometimes our adult children try to make us feel guilty about selling the family home where they grew up. It’s not just the kids that makes you feel guilty, often times the guilt is self-inflicted because you have so much invested in your big family home.

How to deal with this emotion:

·       You’re in control. It’s your life, your decision, not theirs.

·       Focus on the new life that you’re creating in your new home rather than feeling guilty leaving your old home behind.

5. You’re afraid of change

Change is never easy. As a matter of fact, fear of change is normal, but fear can also make the downsizing process feel even more overwhelming and daunting.

How to deal with this emotion:

·       Create a downsizing plan

·       Break it into small more manageable chunks to make it less stressful

6. Your kids don’t want your stuff

That hurts. You’ve lovingly collected things over many years, you are absolutely certain your kids would love to have them when you are no longer here.

But they don’t!

How to deal with this emotion:

·       Respect their decision. They do not accumulate possessions like we did.

·       They don’t want or need our stuff and move on.

7. You’re concerned you will not be able to make your new home “your home”

You’ve worked hard over many years to make your house your home. You’re having difficulty believing that you can create that feeling again in your new smaller space.

Take it from me, you can and you will if you only take the things, you want, need, and love. Surrounding yourself with those special things will make your home feel like yours again.

How to deal with this emotion:

·       Understand why you are experiencing those emotions.

·       Make a conscious decision to move on so you can let go of the past and live fully into your new future.

These are just a few of the emotions you will feel when downsizing in your 60s.

Acknowledge your feelings because they’re real.

Remember… when downsizing in your 60s…

first deal with your emotions,

then deal with your stuff.

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Rita Wilkins bio