WHAT TO BRING YOUR (SWEET) SUITE

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The majority of clients we work with are downsizing and moving into retirement homes and have 3 delicious meals included in their rental package. They won’t be cooking a large turkey for 20 people at Thanksgiving, baking gourmet birthday cakes or hosting a family reunion. They will find that there are many items in their large family kitchen that they will no longer have use for. The kitchenette area in these suites is typically very small and only allows space for what we refer to as a Basic Kitchen.

Here are some items you won’t need to bring:

  • Roasting pan
  • 5 measuring cups
  • 10 vases of different sizes
  • 20 souvenir tea towels from trips abroad
  • Serving utensils
  • Tablecloths
  • The china from your wedding
  • Your large collection of tea cups
  • Every size and shape of bakeware you can find
  • Excessive cleaning supplies
  • 50 different spices

If you’re wondering what you should bring with you, we would be happy to share the secret ingredients for a perfect kitchenette.

TO OUR CLIENTS AND COMMUNITY PARTNERS:

Lighten Up! extends our ongoing best wishes to all our clients and community partners. For over 15 years, Lighten Up! has provided respectful, professional assistance to seniors in transition. We continue to provide services during these extraordinary times, observing all guidelines as set out by the authorities, and in particular, the most current guidelines published by the province of Ontario. Lighten Up! Is committed to the health and well being for everyone that will be involved in your move transition.

We are pleased to continue to offer our introductory meetings at no cost.   This meeting takes place over the telephone, or video conference using Facetime or Zoom.

The next step in our process is our personal in-home assessment. During the in-home assessment, we will promise to respect you and your home. We will be using gloves and masks as we meet to discuss your personal needs and services required for a stress free move.

Are you overwhelmed with the thought of moving?

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When was the last time you moved? Was it 40, 50 or even 60 years ago? You probably have a lifetime of memories in your home, and with that comes a lifetime of belongings and items you have collected over the years.

Downsizing can feel emotionally and physically overwhelming. But careful planning and perspective can make it easier. Here are some ways you can make moving less stressful:

  • start early – when you make the decision to move, start downsizing right away
  • make a floor plan – figure out where all of your belongings will fit into your new space
  • work in one room at a time – start in rooms that are used the least
  • involve your family – invite your family to select items they want and encourage them to take them now
  • get rid of duplicates – you may only need one measuring cup
  • make yes or no piles only – maybe is just a postponed decision
  • reduce collections creatively – select only your favourites to bring with you
  • take photos of your home before you move – make a memory book of your home
  • don’t over-save for the next generation – they typically won’t want it and storage is not an option
  • give with no strings attached – don’t worry about where things are going, donate to your favourite charities
  • stop acquiring – avoid buying anything new prior to moving, except essentials
  • don’t move anything that doesn’t have a designated space in your new home – if it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t come
  • label your photographs – and everything else! so you can find it when you’re looking for it
  • purge your paperwork – a big job, but it needs to be done – be selective about which papers you keep

 

Honour your past, don’t cling to it.

Sentimental clutter can be challenging to let go of.

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Sentimental clutter is often the hardest part of decluttering a home.  I would advise anyone paring down their stuff to put special mementos at the end of the queue for decluttering. The work of sifting through items you have a lot of memories attached to is often slow and taxing.

What is sentimental clutter? I define it as mementos that don’t get used in everyday life. Ticket stubs, love letters, photo albums. Maybe even everyday items from a loved one that has passed away. You know it’s sentimental clutter because you never use it and only touch or see it occasionally.  It’s also usually tucked away in a drawer, box in the basement or another unused room in your home.

Moving is often a time when the boxes of old photos and report cards comes out. Instead of packing you take a trip down memory lane. It can be a wonderful and enjoyable way to remember and celebrate the past. But… if you just pack it all up again and carry it on to the next place, and don’t look at it until the next move, you’re relegating those special items to the clutter pile.

 

Here are some ideas to think about as you ponder how to deal with sentimental clutter.

The item doesn’t hold the memory. You do. 

Often people can’t part with the memento because they think if they do, they will forget about that time. This can be especially true for items attached to loved ones that are gone. But the item doesn’t hold the memory. You hold the memory. Try to think of the items as simply a thing that sparks the memory. And that there are so many ways to spark a memory beyond things.

Too many memory items, or sentimental clutter, can actually prevent us from enjoying what we do have. 

Box after box of loose photos doesn’t always elicit beautiful memories. It can bring panic with the thoughts of, how will I sort all of this? And guilt too: shouldn’t I be treasuring and enjoying all this stuff? It can even be a burden in a small home. When you don’t have a lot of space a few extra boxes really does use up valuable storage.

Useful and enjoyable things should be used and seen. 

The five bankers boxes of who knows what that sit in the garage aren’t being used or seen. In fact, often these boxes of sentimental clutter are stored haphazardly. They become victims of water damage or mold. If it was useful and important in your life shouldn’t it be well taken care of? If the idea of spending days and dollars putting everything in organized protective sleeves and giving it prime storage in your home is unappealing… well, that’s your answer. This ‘stuff’ isn’t that important to you. The memories and people and experiences are. But the stuff you’ve attached the memory to is really just stuff.

 

Ideas for paring down sentimental clutter.

Display things that you love. This makes it easier to choose those photos and mementos that have a lot of meaning to you. Scan all those old photos and make a coffee table book out of them. Then let them go. Make a display box for the baby items…. and then give the rest of those baby hats and onesies away.

Honour your past and people in a new way. Visit that beach your mother loved once a year. Call up that  friend or family member you haven’t talked to in a while and reminisce. Maybe you need to do something bigger to finally let go of those physical items that you attach to memories and people. Make a donation in a loved one’s name.

If it’s your kid’s stuff, and they are out of the house, give it to them to hold on to. Everyone has had that call: come and get your stuff, we don’t want it in the basement anymore. It’s a right of passage to take those yearbooks and soccer trophies from your parent’s home to your own. And while the kids are there, help them reduce those boxes by half.

Outsource photo scanning. Maybe some relatives will share the bill. Many people put off scanning photos because it’s really time consuming.  If you can’t let old photos go because you need to scan them, get it done. Have a scanning party. Ask family to bring laptops and a scanner and spend a Saturday reminiscing and scanning. Turn those scans into a photo book or hire a professional photo organizer to do the work for you.

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HAROLD TAYLOR AWARD!

45167964_10214997508468384_9091537122350858240_nJanice 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!

Nine Tips to Downsizing & Relocating

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