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two women in housecoatsI like to meander through the aisles of second hand stores to see what the deals are. Sometimes I go looking for something specific, like this particular day when I wanted to make some mittens out of old sweaters, until I came upon the housecoats.

The store I visited was very popular, and I had to wait a few moments to get to the stand of sweaters I wanted, so I let myself get distracted by the housecoats instead. There was something about several of the housecoats there that reminded me of being little and at home with my mom, because she always wore these cotton housecoats, usually floral, some with zippers and others with ties. There were about six of them hanging on the rack, and I looked closer.

These housecoats were soft and faded, and had obviously been washed may times. Some were floral, some were printed abstract, all were looking a little old and worn and tired as they clung onto the wire hangers. I looked up at the first one, and saw a name tape ironed in the facing just below the collar. Agnes, it said. I looked at the next one, and it said Ruth. The third one had a name tape ironed on top of another name tape; Carol. These were housecoats that had been donated to the second hand store, seemingly from a senior’s home of some sort. They made me feel just a little sad as I looked at them, because each housecoat had someone’s name written on iron on fabric tape, and pressed into the collar.  Obviously, they had come from seniors who had them labelled so they didn’t get lost in the laundry of the facility where these ladies had lived, and I wondered how they felt as adults wearing labelled clothing, similar to how a young child would have their coats and boots labelled for school. I felt the fabric, thought of the women and the lives they had lived, and tried to honour them for a few moments.

It’s that time of year again! The holidays decorations and festive swag is all being put away. When you visit the stores, they’ve replaced the lines of Christmas wrap with storage totes, and I have to admit that their multi-coloured lids and unbreakable wheels are calling me. It’s not that I need to be downsizing or organizing every year, but I find that after the holidays I can always pack things up a little better than I did last year. Besides, having everything tidy helps free up space in my head for other things, including working with clients on downsizing and organizing in their homes.

ClutterRecently I’ve been looking up storage solutions online, and although some of the containers are large they typically don’t weigh a whole lot so I can get them delivered for a good price. Small totes, big totes, and colourful boxes with flowers or the Eiffel tower all over them beckon me and since it’s January as I write this, they are all on sale!

Here are my top 7 tips in case you are planning to do some downsizing and organizing. These tips will help if you are planning a move, or simply want to make things more comfortable right where you are, at home.

  1. Decide what storage containers suit you best according to what you can pick up and move safely. I love bins with wheels on the bottom, but I find that some of them are too big to get my arms around (I’m 5 foot two and it’s like there are designed for someone seven feet tall)!

2. Select totes that will stack safely up to three high (any higher than that and things can tip over), but any lower than that and they are sprawled in the storage room instead of being tucked away against a wall. Cute storage boxes

3. Work in chunks of time to avoid overwhelm and boredom. If that hall closet is really packed, you won’t look forward to spending three hours organizing and downsizing it. Set a timer so you work for just 15 to 30 minutes at a time, take a short break, and then set your timer and get back to work again.

4. Maintain control of your stuff. Be clear with family members about your decisions, and remember that if there are items you no longer want or that bring joy to you, it’s time for those things to go. There are plenty of charities who can use what you no longer need.

5. I’ve accepted the fact that our kids and family members typically don’t want our stuff…except when they want our stuff. It’s a good idea to discuss what you are getting rid of, and offer it to them if you think they might want it. Try not to be offended if they say no – our tastes change over time, and we tend to accumulate a lot of stuff nowadays and it’s not that our kids are trying to hurt our feelings; they are just working on creating their own homes and comfy spaces. And they need to think about how they are organizing and downsizing within their own homes.

6. Be kind to yourself. Getting organized and getting rid of things can be hard to do. There are decisions to make, memories and feelings that are tied to our things, and then there’s the actual physical work it takes to  move furniture and boxes to get them out of your way. Take breaks. Give yourself a pat on the back and remember these things didn’t accumulate overnight. It might take a while to get them sorted out.

7. Ask for help. This can be hard to do, but there are people who specialize in just this kind of work, like we do here at Elder Move Inc. You might be surprised that you own kids may want to help with downsizing (or you might also be surprised at how much they don’t want to help). Either way, if you’d like some help, give us a call and we’ll arrange to come see you at home and talk about your project. We do more than packing and moving people; we help lots of people just like you get things organized and tidied up to make your home more comfortable.

If you’re in the Edmonton, Alberta area and would like to discuss downsizing, organizing, or relocating and moving, just give us a call.

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