Living in a place for any length of time inevitably means accumulating stuff. It happens to the best of us. Dishes, travel mementos, linens and furniture — over time, it builds up.
In addition to the items we use daily, we also have a bunch of other possessions in our Whatcom County homes that, for whatever reason, we’ve never been able to part with. According to Psychology Today, the reasons we collect and keep things fall into the following categories:
- We are keeping replacement parts in case an item breaks.
- We are collectors of things.
- We think that the items we have are worth money — or will be someday.
- The items have sentimental value because they evoke positive memories.
- We claim that some items have a useful purpose or will in the future, even if they don’t right now.
- We find that it takes too much time and effort to decide what to get rid of.
That last point is key: When it comes time to move, how do we decide what to keep from among all that we’ve collected, and how do we part with the rest?
Here are three steps to follow:
First, it’s important to give ourselves time and space to make these decisions. It’s best not to wait until the last minute. After all, how to dispense of the items we’ve collected over the years can be among the last things on our minds when we’re having to make the difficult and emotion-laden decision to move.
Determine what we need and have space for
Second, we need to determine how much we can (and should) bring with us. Whether we’re moving into a smaller home in Bellingham, transitioning to assisted living in Lynden or taking up residence in a mother-in-law apartment on our kids’ property in Ferndale, we’re naturally going to need and/or have space for fewer possessions. Based on the specific place of residence, we need to spend the time necessary to decide what we truly need and what space we might have for a few mementos.
Throw a downsizing party
Third, we need to find a way to part with all of the items we have left over. It sounds difficult, but honestly, this can be the most fun part of the process!
We can turn the act of parting with our stuff into an enjoyable experience by throwing a downsizing party. This article in The Washington Post offers a great example.
The fun of a downsizing party is that we can experience the joy of giving to others as part of paring our possessions into a manageable pile. Members of our church, grandkids and their friends, neighbors, friends — all would be able to take something with them that they need and that makes them think of us. What fun! We can share some of what has meant so much to us over the years, and our friends and family can have useful items to remember us by.
The idea is simple: After storing all of the items we’ll be bringing with us to our new home, we invite friends and family over for a party – to eat, talk and look over items around the house. What people want, they take! In the end, our friends get new items for their homes that they need, and we get to pare down our stuff, allowing us to move in peace.