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Decluttering, Downsizing and Moving… Oh My!

My wife and I are in the middle of decluttering our house in preparation for downsizing to a much smaller new family home. I should probably say we are “rightsizing”, as we simply don’t need a home as large as our current house.

Don’t get me wrong. We had no problem filling every nook and cranny of our current home… and mostly I’m to blame for the clutter. When you have all those extra rooms and closets it becomes less urgent to prioritize and purge stuff.

Vintage photo of an exhasted mother and child in a cluttered roomAre you one of those people who are naturally organized, and who never keeps “stuff” that doesn’t have a clear purpose or value? I am learning, but definitely did not start out that way. I tended to attach emotional significance and memories to “things”.

But if the objects we associate with important people and life-events are no longer there to hold and touch… does that mean those memories are gone, too? I don’t think so, and I’m putting my money (or actually my savings) where my mouth is.

I’ve donated a ton of dress clothes. I rarely wear suits any more, and even if I did, I probably could not have fit into many of these. That said, I am working on a personal downsizing as well, and have lost about 20 pounds. That’s for another post.

Donating clothes I no longer wear as part of decluttering As I’ve bagged up items to donate or discard, I’ve found a great relief seeing it all leave our home. There’s stress associated with a bunch of stuff you know you should go through and purge. Once it was all gone I felt I could breathe freer.

Visiting our new home (the builder calls it a “cottage”) I am actually excited at the prospect of having so much less “stuff”. Honestly, we have no choice. It won’t fit, nor would I want it too. Wish us luck, I’ve a long way to go before it’s all done.

How about you? Do you have stuff that you’re paying to store (in one way or another)? Or are you one of those people for whom living “minimally” is just second nature? In our acquisition oriented culture, it’s quite a mental shift, but I’m trying.

Do you have any decluttering tips, or recommend any good resources?

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  1. Kelli

    We are in the process of downsizing too! This Saturday, one family came and picked up some extra furniture and kids things we had. At the same time, a family member came and picked up some things we were storing for her. It was a HUGE relief to see it all leave! I can’t wait to get rid of some more! My tip is to be sure you are on the same page as your spouse when deciding what to do with all those extra things. It could be easy to stir up some resentment if you are gung-ho to purge and they aren’t quite there yet!

    1. Michael Schmid

      Hi Kelli! Good luck with your downsizing. We need to find good homes for some of our excess furniture as well. We’ll leave it in place right now, as we’re selling our house and it will show better furnished (photo below). Great tip on being sure spouses are on the same page. Years ago, getting rid of my prize (albeit seldom if ever used) possessions was a touchy topic for me. Now I’m just thrilled to be rid of things we don’t really need. Hope the rest of your week goes super, Kelli!

      Our living room - View our entire Arlington Texas home listing here
      Click to view listing with 25 more photos

  2. Mary Kathryn Johnson

    Your previous home looks beautiful, Michael!
    We purchased our first house in 1997, and still live in this 1600 sq.ft. home with our now 15yo, 6’1″ and 12yo, 5’4″ sons, two 50lb. Aussies, and a small cat. It feels cramped at times (and loud all the time the kids are home), but it is cozy, and it’s home!

    Because we don’t have any extra space (like a basement) we regularly (every year) de-clutter, and re-organize. If we didn’t, we would be on that hoarder show for sure!

    We originally bought below our means, and have continued that mindset since…buying a new car, and driving it until it dies, etc.

    It feels comfortable and economical, but to be honest, I sometimes wish for more room.

    Before I know it the boys will be off in their own lives…then where will I be with that extra, un-needed space? Grandkids, maybe? :-)

    Good luck in your new home, make it comfortable and personal, and you will love it!

    1. Michael Schmid

      Good for you guys. Sounds like you’ve been doing it right since the beginning. I take care of my cars, and tend to keep them a long time, too. Drove a BMW for 12 years and a Jeep for 14. Don’t do the math or you’ll figure out how ancient I must be. 😉 Thanks for the well wishes. We’ll need all the luck (mostly me) we can get.

  3. Mary Kathryn Johnson

    Love the new look and logo, btw… :-)

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thank you! I’ve changed it again sense you left this comment. Working on decluttering my blog along with everything else. 😉

  4. Theres Just One Mommy

    I feel like I am always trying to declutter and downsize… It’s an ever going process!
    Good luck in the move!

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thank you for the “good luck”. It’s been a while since I’ve moved, and while the decluttering feels good… not sure the packing and moving will. Yes, I suppose it must be an ongoing process. Have a great evening!

  5. Mitzi @Little BIG Moments

    I absolutely feel the same way “I tended to attach emotional significance and memories to “things”. But you hit the nail on the head when you stated that not having their “stuff” around you does not cause one to loose the memories. I’ve been on a journey of downsizing as well. It seemed that with the inheritance of stuff, came the need to bring more stuff to make it all come together nicely. Then there comes a moment, when you begin to feel a bit overwhelmed and even slightly claustrophobic and the stuff needs to go. And now I have an idea for a blog post… 😉 I’m sure the new place will be just as stunning as your current residence. Although…your home is just gorgeous…I would buy it in a heartbeat if I were still in TX. With the family growth…it would be perfect for overnight stays. Big hugs to you & yours & best of luck with everything (though luck has little to do with it)

    1. Michael Schmid

      I absolutely feel the same way “I tended to attach emotional significance and memories to “things”. But you hit the nail on the head when you stated that not having their “stuff” around you does not cause one to loose the memories.

      I can totally understand and empathize with the “inheritance” of stuff issue. Some of it, like furniture hand-made by my grandfather, will be super hard to part with. I’ll clearly offer it to my family before selling or donating it. And of course I have many of my late father’s things as well.

      My goal is to simply keep one or two things, most representative of them, and part with the rest. It would feel nice to know someone is making good use out of the lovely furniture my grandfather built. Our daughter even get’s into the spirit… happy other kids will have new toys.

      1. Mitzi @Little BIG Moments

        Well I think that is just fantastic that the wee one is jumping on the bandwagon and excited to be helping others. I am slowly but surely eliminating the clutter. It is nice to be able to breathe just a little bit. I like your idea of 1 or two things that is most representative of them. I do believe I have that covered myself. 😉 I would agree, it would most definitely be difficult to rid yourself of handmade items. Those are the most difficult to part with.

        1. Michael Schmid

          Thanks, Mitzi! Yeah, we’ll either find a way to make room for the handmade furniture, or offer it to family.

  6. Kim White

    Hi Michael.
    I love this. It seems so many people like to ‘up-size’ I think it’s refreshing to hear about people who want to down-size. It’s hard for sure as there are emotional attachments to most things we have, but what’s really important is the feet that walk among your home. I’ll admit I have a thing with purses and watches. Watches are so of weird, I know, while most women have the shoe thing. I have been slowly selling on Ebay and I don’t miss them at all.

    Our family has been financially down-sizing since January. Not, for any other reason really other than we did a look back into our 2013 and were surprised at the things we bought and quickly realized what we could do to further early retirement for my husband. I have no plans to retire as I LOVE what I do :) Our financial downsize hasn’t been nearly as hard as I thought it would be. And we are teaching our children great lessons in spending and saving.

    Going on our 6th month without going out to eat! That’s big for us. Good luck on your move. I’m sure you’ll breathe a sigh of relief when it’s all over.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Hi Kim. Great idea clearing some of that clutter out via ebay. Less clutter and more cash. :) You’re right about the lessons you’re teaching your kids. Sometimes we don’t realize that they see everything we do, and tend to be influenced more by our actions than our words. Good for you. Sorry it’s been a bit tough. I’m about to hit a tough bit myself, as we get rid of at least 50% of our things. It will be good in the long run.

  7. Laurie Wall

    Love this blog. So helpful for people trying to get ready to downsize. I’m in the real estate business and “downsizing” is a huge trend, but people get very stuck trying to figure out what to do with their “stuff”. It’s all in the mind. We have a podcast with most of the episodes centered around this topic. Thanks!

    1. Michael Schmid

      Hi Laurie. So happy you stopped by my humble little home on the web. I did not know about your “downsizing” podcasts at callthewalls.tv. I’ll download some to my phone and start listening tonight. Have a super week!

  8. Paul Wandason

    I have a friend who goes by the principle that if she hasn’t used something in 2 years then she’s happy to ditch it. That sounds downright scare to me…what if I need that thing again a bit later?

    I like what you said about attaching feelings and emotions to material things – I do the same. I know how my wife looks like, but I still have a photo of her on my work desk; I haven’t looked through our wedding album for ages, but I can still remember every minute and every detail…and I’ll never throw that album away. I guess material things can symbolise some of life’s events, or even jog memories in some cases.

    Having said that…I must confess that there is a certain feeling of liberation when junk is thrown out of the house. (I hope my wife never sees me in that light! 😉

    Hope you’re move goes well and smoothly!

    1. Michael Schmid

      I totally understand keeping one’s wedding album. I’d not part with that or some of the wonderful photos we had taken of our young daughter (just found them as we were packing). As for your friend’s 2 year rule, that sounds perfectly acceptable. I’d go further and say, except for seasonal items, 6 months might be reasonable?

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