Husband and I are downsizing...and I am anticipating stress on both sides. We also are caring for my mom...and have all her stuff too!

Steps you have found to make this easier?

If you have done it and survived - please let me know!

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when I did it, I sold almost everything in a well-publicized estate sale. I'd sold my home and was moving 300 miles away, buying a much smaller one. Soon, I saved about $3000 in moving costs and netted $8000 from the one-day sale. Moved I with mom for thirty days, bought a new tiny house -- and had an absolute field day shopping for new everything.

Smartest thing I ever did.
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The only way downsizing will go smoothly is if you and hubby are on the same page.... wanting to move to the same place [if you plan to move] or if it is clearing out 20-30 years of stuff.

The stuff could become a tangled mess of "I want to keep this"... "You're not throwing THAT away".... "I gave you that as a gift and you want to toss it [or donate]".

I know I will have my hands full with my sig other... he still has his late wife's car and she had passed on 15 years ago...[sigh]. He rarely uses it as he has his own vehicle.

As for your Mother's things, good luck. My Dad still has his college homework from 70 years ago.
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It is very difficult to throw things away. We become so attached. If you are dealing with people who lived through the Great Depression, it is even more difficult as they were taught to keep things. You might need that piece of string later, or reuse the tin foil. Big Sigh. I'm almost as bad. Then you have the later generations who grew up in the age where everything is disposable and they aren't as sentimental. Maybe if you have someone is your family who is of that mindset, you can enlist their help. Paperwork is the very hardest, because we have been told "keep this for your records" so often that we don't really know anymore what to keep and what to throw away, or rather shred.

I'd start with kitchen gadgets. If it is a single use gadget (electrical or not) and you haven't used it in the past year or so, then donate it or put it aside for a tag sale. Then there are clothes that you've outgrown or don't like. Those are the next to go. Then the ones that you can wear, but don't for whatever reason. Out they go. How many shoes, belts and purses do you really need?

Almost any music or movie is available on the computer or on demand on TV. Do we really need to keep the DVD's and such? Some of them maybe, but I know I have some I've seen once and won't ever watch again.

Think: recycle, reuse, resell. In other words, Garbage/Recycle, Donate (to family, charities, etc), and Tag Sale.

Good Luck with this. It is one of things we all struggle with. I don't want to leave it all for my kids to deal with, so I pick through a little each day.
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I just had to do this for my mom and the only way possible was to divide it all into STEPS. Whenever I felt overwhelmed, I divided the next step into even smaller steps. Here is how it went:

1. Take everything mom needs to her new AL apartment.

2. Take everything I or daughter wants/needs to my house: garage and attic.

3. Call antiques people to take the next batch for an auction: AND BEWARE, ANTIQUES NO LONGER BRING THE PRICES THEY DID TEN YEARS AGO!!!!!! APPARENTLY THERE IS AN ARTICLE TO THIS EFFECT EVERY MONTH IN THE MAINE ANTIQUES DIGEST!!!!!!!!! So,if you have to decide to keep or sell antiques, keep!!!!!!!!

4. For the rest, call someone who has a flea market booth and let them have the rest.

5. Clean or call a professional cleaner.

6. Done!
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I'm back to say how I live now -- since my downsize. Maybe some will find it helpful.

I have one set of sheets for each bed. Two towels for Tom and two for me. When I get tired of any of these linens, I donate them and buy new ones. My linen closet is close to empty -- certainly no linens to be found.

I keep a king-sized plastic bag in the hall closet for donations. I give away any clothes I haven't worn in a year. Am ruthless about donating things I don't use. I've convinced myself that hanging on to things I don't use is either a form of hoarding or a form of greed. So out it goes.

I think I might describe myself as a minimalist. Five years before mom passed, I did the same at her house. I was unaware until that time that, although mom wasn't a shopper, she sure never threw anything away.
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HAHAHAHA!!! I don't think it is possible... maybe take a month long vacation and leave it up to someone else???
Seriously though, I read someone else's idea to mark the things they really wanted to KEEP, and then just close your eyes and get rid of the rest; sell, trash, donate or whatever. I thought that was brilliant, as going at it the other way around is what caused the most stress for me.
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Here is what not to do: People die, or move away, the neighbors here have a field day going through private stuff left in the dumpsters.
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Slowly, category by category, and accompanied by soothing music, balanced by other activities which are uplifting. Seriously - it's not just New Age advice. Make it a nice, relaxing project until it becomes too challenging.

I'm doing that now and find I'm more in the mood to do it if I'm listening to favorite music and making a project of it. But when I reach the point that I can't decide on something, I stop and do something else.

If I can't get past that, I put it aside for a second review; it's easier then.

It's easier to work complicated math problems than to part with things that have a lot of meaning, especially after most family members are gone and sometimes their cards and gifts are such strong reminders of them.

With older folks, those memories and their attachments are even stronger.

As to DVDs, CDs, etc., in my case I've seen that these are easy for an elder to use and more convenient than watching movies online or listening to an I-Pod. These are just reminders that technology has changed so much and sometimes they've not moved with it.

E.g., my father loves CDs and DVDs (of Red Skelton, John Wayne, WWII movies & documentaries, and others) but NEVER watches tv. Frankly, given the decline in programming, I'm not sure he's missing anything except a few good documentaries and PBS programs.

And watching something on the Internet can be hard on old eyes.

TXCamper, I'm not criticizing your suggestions; they're good ones. I'm just trying to share another point of view.
Helpful Answer (5)

Slowly. Lower expectations. Increase the amount of time you think you'll need to do it. Just went through it (moved Mom into an addition we put on our house) and still going through it. I get angry that she didn't go through more things before the move but then I step back & realize she is 82 and lived in her 3 bedroom house (with my Dad who passed 15 years ago) for 46 years! That's a lot of living and stuff accumulated. All with meaning.

If they are not sure if they want it, take it & sort through it later. I have a basement full, shed full, attic full & storage room full (from when my spouse's mother passed) so we still have a lot to go through but regular living gets in the way.

I say deadlines must be flexible or feelings will get hurt & tempers will flair. Try to be creative. For example, we made a photo backsplash to display lots of photos that would no longer get wall space.

Valium helps too!
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I'm in the process and it's sloooooow. I started with everything in the house made of fabric --- old sheets, pillow cases, towels, curtains, blankets, bedspreads, comforters, etc., etc. They take up so much room, accumulate dust, smell damp! Most of the old pillows and cushions went straight to the dumpster. I have several huge bags of ragged, faded stuff (I washed it all --- close to 100 loads) en route to an animal rescue shelter. They use it for bedding, etc. A few bags of decent but unmatched stuff to Goodwill. And there's still a lot left! I'm starting on the five closets and several chests of drawers jammed with clothes two or more sizes too large for my mother. Once all the unusable or undesirable fabric is gone, there'll be room to breathe here and room to work with all the other junk.
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