Downsizing has become more and more popular as empty-nesters decide to ditch the suburbs to move closer to the city after their children have moved away. Oftentimes, empty-nesters also give up square footage when they move from a home in the suburbs to a condo or townhouse, which means they’re forced to evaluate their stuff to figure out what will fit in their new space versus what they can let go of.
One of my clients was in the process of preparing her home to sell and evaluating which items will move to their new, smaller home. She and her husband have two children who are in their late 20s - both live several hundred miles away. Their oldest daughter was married with a child of her own and their youngest daughter was engaged to be married.
When my client and I reviewed her furniture, home decor and kitchen items, she was able to quickly determine the items that would be moved into their new home, which we tagged with a green sticker and kept a running list to reference as we worked through the home. However, she had difficulty in making decisions on those “extra” items that wouldn’t fit into their new space. Over and over again, she expressed concern that her children “might want this someday,” whether it was a lamp, photo frame, bud vase, decorative bowl, stool, pillows, tablecloths and so on.
As the “someday my children might want this” pile grew, it became clear that we needed to involve her adult children in the decision-making, so we started texting photos of every item in question to each of them. My client set the parameters that whichever daughter texted with an affirmative got first dibs on the item, and she also let each daughter know that they would need to pick up their items within the next month. As I reminded her, she and her husband are under no obligation to provide their home as a storage unit for their children’s stuff.
Interestingly, after texting photos of nearly 120 items total, one daughter wanted a bench and the other daughter claimed a decorative vase and a framed piece of artwork. Neither wanted anything else! My client’s daughters were happy to be a part of the process and help their mother move forward with downsizing. With this knowledge, my client was able to proceed with donating the remaining home furnishing items to the Furniture Bank of Atlanta. She felt relief in knowing she had given her children an opportunity to decide whether or not they were interested in items to furnish their homes and closure that she had made the right decisions.
The downsizing process proved to be an invaluable way to evaluate the contents of the entire home and determine what items are needed, loved and used versus those that are just taking up space. It also gives empty-nesters a chance to involve their adult children in the process and give them some closure as well.