When we told friends in 2019 that we were downsizing, they gave us that slightly confused puppy dog head tilt as if to say: Why?!
It was a little crazy. We had just remodeled our beautiful 1959 ranch and installed the kitchen of my dreams, but then quickly realized that an acre with a dog and a few ducks, a home to clean, and two young, highly-active boys and a growing business were too much to take care of. Songbird had seen enough growth over three years that my husband needed to leave his IT job to help run the business. So, it made the most sense for us to go from our 2800 square foot home with one acre to an 1100 square foot home in the woods (no lawn 🙂)!
Most importantly, it was a perfect opportunity to “practice what we preach.” It gave us the chance to look at how much “stuff” we really need and reevaluate what was most important to us. Turns out, what we value most is the gift of time. We want time to be with our boys as they’re rapidly growing and ever-evolving right before our eyes. This realization made swallowing the pill of letting things go a little bit easier.
When you ask your parents (or we ask our clients) to purge or get rid of things they care deeply about, it’s important to approach the conversation with kindness and compassion. It’s one of those things where people regularly respond “Easy for you to say!” when they have to choose what to keep during a downsize. Now I can respond, “I know it’s hard, I had to do it too.” (When I say this, I’m often met with that same puppy dog head tilt.) When we can look our client in the eyes and share that we had to evaluate each and every item we lived with too, it puts them at ease and also gives them a bit of confidence that they have what it takes to make it happen.
When we downsized, we really went after it. Truthfully, I cried as I went through the bins of baby clothing and told myself it was time to pass it on (my youngest was only 2 at the time). But, it helped knowing I had a nephew that really could use the items that no longer fit my son. And, I had a friend with a baby on the way! She had ZERO baby things from her previous kiddos because this was a completely new chapter in her life. I picked out the items that I valued the most. I closed my eyes and thought about which outfits or nursery decorations I absolutely needed to keep a little longer, to perhaps pass on at a later date (read: possible grandbabies, ha!). Everything fit in one smaller bin, which was a big reduction from the 15 bins we started with.
It can feel sooooo good to give items a second life. In my mind, clothes and toys don’t want to sit there unused in those bins, they want to be worn and played with, keeping another baby warm, entertained and loved! Being able to share with clients that I have also moved things on that I cared deeply about helps folks realize that it’s not the stuff that matters but the memories of how you LIVED with or in those things.
We quickly learned that selecting which furniture pieces we were sentimental about and wanted to keep (i.e. family heirlooms) made it easier to sell other items and start dreaming of our new décor and the new chapter ahead of us. So, room by room, piece by piece, we did just that. And, frankly, my boys even had a ball with it! They loved the idea that we were giving things to their younger cousin. It was so sweet to see my two-year old wander around the playroom, grab a toy and say “I think Wyatt will like this” in his little toddler voice. I have to think that maybe, just maybe, they’re learning life lessons about giving graciously too.
Currently, we’ve been downsized for a year and a half and, while we’ve had to adjust, we love the freedom it’s created for us. We have more chances to get out, explore, play together, and work to achieve our professional goals. I’m glad it’s helped us relate more to our clients, too.
It is worthwhile attempting a mini downsize on your own before asking mom or dad to go through a downsizing transition. Want to learn how? We are creating a free 3-part video series on downsizing your closet, your basement and your additional storage unit/attic this fall because “the trees are about to show us how beautiful it is to let things go” (Unknown). Click the link below to stay in touch and be the first to receive details about our free 3-part tutorial.