Janice was recently presented with the Harold Taylor Award at the annual Professional Organizers in Canada Conference in Kelowna, BC. This award recognizes outstanding individual contribution, guidance and direction in the organizing profession and support of the POC organization. What an honour!
1. Let your parents’ emotional and physical comfort guide the process.
Most likely, you will have different priorities from your parents. And you and your siblings may have differing agendas among yourselves. These separate priorities create conﬂict just when family unity is needed most. Remember that honoring your parents includes honoring their agenda.
Seemingly insigniﬁcant items may be loaded with personal meaning and memories for your parents. And objects of great material value may be less important. They may prefer old, worn objects to newer ones in better condition. Respect their decisions.
Dealing with the physical and mental loss that often accompanies old age, your mom and dad may cling ﬁercely to their independence and sense of control. They may have a sequence in which they need to proceed that differs from your own. If books are very special to your parents, for example, they may need to determine what will happen to the volumes they’re leaving behind before they can focus on other issues. Attempting to force your parents to proceed in a sequence that doesn’t address their priorities usually results in arguments and inattention.
2. Try to replicate the old environment.
Your parents will be experiencing a lot of change. It will be comforting to have some things stay the same. Take photos of each shelf in the china closet, the arrangement of pictures on the wall, and the items on bureaus and end tables. The photos will help you recreate the feel of the former home with speed and accuracy, and will make the new residence feel more like home.
3. Focus on sorting, not packing.
Preparing for a senior move is a major organizational challenge. There may be decades of belongings to sort through in attics, basements, spare rooms and closets. In addition to what will be moved to your parents’ new home, things may need to go to family members across the country, as well as to the church bazaar, donation centers, charities, auction houses and the township dump. Helping your parents sort and organize their belongings is the single most important thing you can do to reduce stress, save money, and ensure a smooth move.
4. Accept their gifts.
I was reminded of this at the funeral of my friend’s grandmother. “Things were important to my grandmother,” Lisa said. She told me that her grandmother had lived through the Great Depression, and then years later, buried both of her children. In the face of so much loss, Lisa’s Grandmother had held onto what she could. When she moved at age 88, she offered to give Lisa many of her cherished things. But Lisa didn’t need the items. Honestly, she didn’t like them and she had no space to store them. “I said no to everything,” Lisa told me. “Today, I regret those decisions. It’s not that I’ve grown to like the things she offered. It’s that I was thinking of myself, and I should have been thinking about her.”
Your parents will be saying goodbye to a great deal. Knowing that cherished objects, and even ordinary items, are with family members eases their sense of loss. If they give you things, even things you don’t like, accept them graciously. Store them in the basement if you must. Conversely, if your parents are warehousing things that belong to you or your siblings, take them now so your mom and dad don’t need to worry about them during the move.
5. Be tactful.
Poor health, caregiving duties and failing eyesight can result in housekeeping practices that are less stringent than they once were. Tactfully clean things as you sort, and avoid making your parents feel embarrassed. If you ﬁnd clothing that is torn or stained, suggest a donation site that recycles textiles. Take worn towels to the local animal shelter. Knowing that things will be used, regardless of their condition, will be a comfort to your parents.
6. Let your parents say good-bye.
Keep sorting sessions brief— 2-3 hours at the most. This may be difficult when you come to town for a weekend and plan to blitz through things. But constant decision-making is exhausting and marathon sorting sessions usually result in diminishing returns. Accept that some days you will accomplish less than you had hoped for and let your parents enjoy their recollections.
The sorting process brings up memories, so stories and reminiscing are natural. Studies show that reminiscing calms people and reduces stress. You may ﬁnd that after telling a story, your parents are able to focus more on decision-making. In short, storytelling is a productivity tool, not a hindrance. Listen respectfully, ask questions. Remember that in the long run, it is your parents’ stories—not their belongings—that you will cherish.
7. Be realistic about how much time you can devote to the process.
If your parents live in the family home, allow 60-80 hours for the downsizing process, and 20 hours for items not going with them. Helping them pack, move, unpack and settle into their new home will take about 50-80 hours. If your time is limited, focus on doing fun things with your parents and providing emotional support. Hire a professional Senior Move Manager to help with the rest.
8. Concentrate on the big picture.
You have a lot on your plate including your own home, family, job, and even caregiving responsibilities. All this can add to your stress regarding your parents move and distract you from the big picture. Conﬂicts sometimes develop between siblings over the dispersion of items, and more frequently, over the sharing of caregiving duties. As you work with your parents and siblings, keep three objectives equally in mind: caring for your parents, taking care of yourself, and keeping the family intact.
9. Hire a Senior Move Manager.
Downsizing and moving are challenging tasks, but you don’t have to do it alone. A Senior Move Manager can provide expert planning, proven resources and hands-on help to take the work and worry out of moving. Most Senior Move Managers provide a free, no-obligation home visit. For NASMM members throughout the U.S. and Canada, visit National Association of Senior Move Managers (www.nasmm.org). NASMM members must meet insurance and educational requirements and adhere to the NASMM Code of Ethics.
— Simplify Magazine – HELPING MOM AND DAD DOWNSIZE by Margit Novack, NASMM
I’m excited to be a part of the Grand Opening of this new furniture store in North-West London, offering amazing storage solutions for each room in your home! Come check out Voekel this weekend at 2pm.
Simple home organizing solutions
- Fall is the second busiest season and one of the most common problems standing between you and an organized home is the ability to establish a routine. Think about your daily routine and then plan out ways to maximize your time and accomplish your chores efficiently.
- Put systems in place to minimize the time and effort usually spent clearing clutter and running around the house trying to find misplaced objects.
- Keep the family on the same page by synching up everyone’s cellphones.
- Preach punctuality. Help ensure that you aren’t downstairs waiting to leave in the morning while your teen is still upstairs getting ready by ensuring all the clocks in the house keep the same time.
- Keep a calendar in a common room like the kitchen to keep track of everyone’s important dates and appointments.
Back-to-school home organizing
If you have children, then fall is extra busy — not only do you have to get yourself organized and your home prepared for the oncoming cold, but you also have to get ready for back-to-school. Here are Estelle Gee’s best home organizing tips to help get you and your family ready for school.
- Set up a station in the entryway or mud room to store the children’s backpacks. This will minimize back-to-school stress, especially in the morning.
- Create a study area for your kids. This can be done in a communal room or in their bedrooms and helps keep books, homework and stationery all in one place.
- Make sure you start tomorrow on the right foot by organizing backpacks, making lunches and updating the family calendar the evening before.
- Minimize the morning routine by picking outfits the day before. If you’re really proactive, use a clothing organizer to lay out a week’s worth of outfits.
Outdoor fall home organizing ideas
With the lazy days of summer coming to a close, it’s time to concentrate on organizing the outdoor living space and exterior of your home. Get your house winter ready before the cold rolls in with these simple outdoor organizing ideas.
- Pack up and store your patio furniture. Keep cushions in a closed storage unit and cover furniture frames to ensure that next summer you won’t be shopping for new pieces.
- Clean your deck. If it needs to be weather-proofed, add a new coat of paint to guard against harsh winter weather.
- Get your home’s exterior winter ready. Take a weekend to attend to home repairs such as cleaning the eaves and caulking around the exterior of your home’s windows and doors.
- Clean out and organize the garage. This is a great place to store your patio furniture for the winter, not to mention your car once it starts snowing.
Fall home organizing accessories
- The Rubbermaid garage system has plenty of components to store and organize everything from hoses to hockey equipment.
- Wall shelves to help keep your teenager’s after-school life orderly and organized.
- Before the new school year begins, sort through your children’s art projects and school work. Establish which pieces you want to keep and store them away in a properly labeled box or file folder. You can even create individual memento boxes so that your kids can file away their own favourites.
- Hooks are a convenient and easy way to organize clutter in entryways and closets. Place them inside cabinet doors to create more storage space in the bathroom and kitchen.
- Shower caddies, like 3M’s Command bathroom organizers, allow for convenient access to toiletries and accessories. If your household loves beauty products, you may even want to consider having individual shower caddies.
1 Identify clutter hot spots
Kitchens attract mail pile-ups, home offices store endless piles of bills. Books and hand cream samples seem to love night tables and the weekend’s newspaper becomes a permanent fixture on your living room floor. Once you identify your clutter hot spots, consider purchasing an attractive basket to house items you like to have at your fingertips. But remember, a basket can organize chaos for a while, but will also need a frequent purge a few times a month to avoid pile up.
Purge and do it often. Why are you using up valuable space storing that mixing bowl set you think your niece might want when she leaves for university in a few years? Go through your stuff and think about the last time you used it, why you’re keeping it around and if it would be more useful somewhere else. After your first few big purging sessions, you won’t need to go at your storage closet so frequently (and ruthlessly).
We all have important keepsakes we don’t know what to do with and purging these can be difficult, but don’t keep these things buried in the bottom of a box in your garage. Find a space in your home where you can show off its beauty and take good, constant care of it. “There’s really no point in owning something if you can’t use it,” Kristie says.
3 Deal with a little every day
This may be the hardest tip to follow, but it’s by far the best. Focusing a mere 15 minutes of your day on clearing clutter will make your life a whole lot easier (and your house a whole lot tidier)! When you’re finished your bowl of cereal, put the dish in the dishwasher right away, rather than placing it in the sink. When you get home from work, deal with your mail immediately. File away bills and recycle junk mail then and there. If you have the luxury of half an hour, says Kristie, you can manage to sort through a closet of clothing, determining what you don’t need anymore. If you don’t let things pile up, your home will be a lot tidier and cleaning up much less of a daunting task.
4 Stay focused
When you’re taking on a clutter-busting task, it’s important to be energized and focused. Even if you’re just spending 15 minutes on cleaning off your desk, ignore the buzz of your Blackberry and the ping of your e-mail inbox. Just focus on the task at hand so you can be done with it once and for all.
5 Look at the big picture
It’s hard to decide on the fate of a beloved old sweater when you’re looking at it on its own, but when you put it beside all your new ones, you may notice that it’s stretched out of shape, faded and really, you wouldn’t be caught dead in it in public. Conundrum solved!
6 Make use of unused space
You can add hooks over your bedroom and bathroom doors, bins and baskets on closet floors, storage bins under your bed, and bulletin boards and file pockets to your office walls. Be creative when looking at unused space and it can become a great new place to store items out of the way.
7 Get your kids involved
“Kids come with a lot of accessories,” Kristie says, “so you have to be pretty vigilant to make sure you stay on top of it.” Kristie recommends sitting down with your kids for an hour every month to sort through what they have, then storing or donating what is no longer being played with. “And make sure whatever storage you have is at their height and within their ability [to use],” she adds. “Even a toddler can put away soft toys into a bin if it’s at the right height.”
8 Identify a place for things
So you knit, sew, run, bike ride, cook and have two dogs. Your hobbies require you to actually own stuff, and therefore have created a good deal of clutter. “You really have to identify an amount of space – a place – for things. If you have a dog, make sure the leash and bags are all kept in one area,” Kristie advises. In finding a home for your hobbies, you may discover you don’t have room for all of them, helping you to identify which ones should be a priority.
9 File things … now
Kristie says that one of the best organizing investments is a filing cabinet. Just think: All of those piles of papers in your home office can be put away in mere moments. And you won’t spend hours of your precious time trying to locate your donation receipts come tax time. Don’t worry, not all filing cabinets are of the old, stacked metal variety. You can find ones with classy design elements at places like West Elm, Ikea and Pottery Barn.
10 Give away
Dedicate a specific spot in your house or garage for giveaway items, and place a box there. When you come across something you no longer need or want, you can discard it to the giveaway spot immediately, rather than setting it back down and forgetting about it. Plan a monthly trip to your local Goodwill or Salvation Army drop-off location to get rid of the goods you no longer have room for.
Here are some great storage solutions that are visually appealing and will help keep your home clutter-free! By buying items with more than one use, you are maximizing the space in your home and taking advantage of all available storage areas. These items are especially great for small homes and apartments.