The Joy of Downsizing for Empty-Nesters

Getting happiness often starts with letting go!” by Karen Hutton

It was 1977. I was 12. And I remember desperately wanting a pair of black lycra leggings. Just like the ones Olivia Newton John wore in Grease. Those leggings would give me all the most wonderful feelings; I was sure of it. With those leggings I’d be amazing!

Isn’t it interesting how we associate ownership of stuff with the attainment of feelings? Feelings like pride, pleasure, power . . . I realised this recently when we moved from a large home into a smaller apartment.

Pete and I wanted to get out of the suburbs and move to where all the action is. We wanted a smaller place, and a larger lifestyle. It was a tough decision because the move would require drastic (and laborious) action to be taken (would it be easier to just stay where we were?) We sure made use of every inch of storage space in that old house!

But the pull of the advantages of our new location was enough to overcome the hurdles, and the perfect apartment materialised at just the right time.

Of course, the move entailed a massive declutter. Big things as well as small stuff – there was a lot that had to go. It took a couple of months to do the big edit – whenever I had a spare moment I’d go and pack another box to discard.

It was easy to let go of our old sofa and outdoor setting (wouldn’t fit in the new place anyway), the harder things to declutter were clothes, books, and mementoes.

There was a simple question that I asked myself over and over while going through the process – ‘Do I love it?’ Defeating nostalgia is a difficult game, but acting decisively helps. For example, I’d put everything to be discarded in boxes and bags, and when full, take them straight to the car for delivery to the charity shop. No lingering in the house.

This strategy really worked for me. Some decluttering experts recommend sorting into various piles and selling what you can on Trade Me. My theory is to get it out of the house immediately.

Another unexpected benefit is the sense of relief I had after the removal of the unused and unloved clutter. It was so liberating! It kind of frees up your mental space as well.

In our new place we have three robes and some under-the-stair storage. That’s it! But our edited treasures all fit in and it’s wonderful to be able to walk to everything (enabling us to make do with one car).

In a sense we were lucky to have to buy some new furniture for our new abode, because we were able to select things that give the illusion of space. For example – our new marble tulip table and transparent Louis Ghost chairs work well as they reduce visual clutter with their clean lines.

So in conclusion, all I can say is, if you’re being held back from the life you’d truly LOVE to live by your clutter – LET IT GO!!

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The Joy of Downsizing for Empty-Nesters