Spring into Downsizing: Thoughts on using a spring ritual as a downsizing pre-plan

The spirit of renewal in the spring is palpable. Trees are heavy with blossoms and their sweet perfume, zoo babies become celebrities and are a heart-warming favorite of the media, the days are longer and the air turns warmer, beckoning us to fling open our doors and windows and breathe it all in. Everything around us seems new and filled with possibility – so what better time to tackle spring-cleaning with the next chapter of your life in mind?

“Spring cleaning,” is universally regarded as that time of year when we rid our home of the winter’s dust bunnies and clutter, but it’s also a great opportunity to evaluate the items in your home that might just take up space.

Look at your belongings with a critical eye for the future. Do you need it? Do you love it? Is it a duplication of something else you have? Often we don’t realize how much our things weigh us down, and only after we’ve blessed others with them, or purged accumulated clutter, do we get that cleansing feeling that comes with creating margin in our lives. Spring-cleaning, and even downsizing, can be sources of renewal when we see items we no longer use getting a second chance with someone else.

Spring-cleaning with future downsizing in mind can alleviate the stress that often accompanies big change. With forethought and planning you avoid looming deadlines or pressure-filled decisions that could keep you up at night. Belongings can be thoughtfully considered at a comfortable pace, which will bring more peace to your eventual move knowing only the most treasured and necessary items will be along for the ride. Many retirees already view spring-cleaning as an opportunity to make future downsizing simpler. For instance, there’s no time like the present to finally address some of those nagging items on your to-do list, like getting rid of outdated or non-functioning electronics, partially used paint cans, old clothes and non-essential furniture items. Be mindful of the environment, though, as you work on your home.

Some big box stores, like Best Buy, accept electronics, TVs, computers, etc., for recycling, as do many municipalities. A quick Google search will provide an answer to help you locate which option is most convenient for you.

Stir cat litter into paint cans with latex paint; the litter will absorb and harden the paint and then can be safely disposed of in your regular trash. Oil-based paints are considered hazardous waste and must be taken to a recycling center. Or consider donating partially used cans of paint to a local community center, shelter or Habitat for Humanity.

Old clothes, and even furniture items can find new life at a consignment shop or thrift store. Or, for a one-stop-shop experience, enlist the help of an online consignment/estate sale company, like Everything But the House. Whether you want to sell a prized collection or decades worth of household objects, these estate companies will manage the process for you.

Going through belongings and seeing items that have long since been packed away can be a fun and nostalgic walk down memory lane. It’s important to remember that although objects may stir memories, the memories themselves live within us. Taking time to process through those feelings will be helpful in making decisions about what to do with certain belongings. Photographs and scrapbooks are convenient ways to keep visual reminders close at hand and heart without taking up precious space. Journaling is a great method to record and document memories, and storytelling is a fun way to reconnect to important memories while connecting with family and friends at the same time. Of course, most everyone has a treasured item that makes their house feel like a home, and those keepsakes will instantly make a new, smaller home feel just right.

No matter where your spring-cleaning takes you this year, whether it’s decluttering and streamlining your current home or downsizing, the steps you take now will positively impact the next chapter in your life. And when you stay ahead of the game, you’ll have more time on your hands to simply enjoy the season you’re in.