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We are now in the season of cleaning – Spring! If you are looking to move into retirement living from a large family home in the near future, take the opportunity to work on decluttering before you downsize.

Over the years, it is easy to build up a collection of items in the hope that you will use them one day, or to hold on to pieces due to emotional connection, but when you are looking to downsize, these items can become less useful and more of a burden.

Research shows that a cluttered home can be linked to stress, anxiety and guilt, creating the feeling that there is always work to be done, making you reluctant to have people over, and restricting a sense of freedom in your daily life. Therefore, decluttering can be hugely beneficial to your life. With less to tidy, you can spend more time doing the things you love without unruly possessions weighing on your mind. Downsizing does not mean getting rid of your treasures, rather allowing them to shine more! Carefully considering what you want to have around you and removing things that are less important, makes more space for the things that are, allowing you to look after and value them even more. We have put together some helpful tips to prepare you for downsizing in the easiest way possible.

1. Give Yourself Time

The first and most important tip is to start decluttering early, alleviating some stress closer to your moving date. Starting a couple of months before the move gives you time to plan what you want to keep and what you no longer need before moving into your new home.

Take furniture for example; you may be living in a four bedroom home and moving to a two bedroom home so you might not need all your furniture and you may choose to either sell, gift, or donate it. Read on for tips on selling and donating your furniture.

2. Make It Fun

Decluttering does not have to be a tedious or stressful process. You can make it fun by inviting your family and friends over to help sort through items. It can be nice to reminisce with others on memories triggered by items you have not seen in a while, or laugh at things you have found in the back of the pantry that have been there for 10 years. Put on some uplifting music, put on a pot of tea and make a day of it!

3. Pass Things Down

While your family is over helping, this is the perfect time to pass items down that they will treasure. This could be family photos of your grandchildren, old collectables or vintage clothing. Passing things down can be a good opportunity to bond with your grandchildren, who are likely interested in knowing more about your life in the good old days.

Photos can provide nostalgia and happy memories and it can be difficult to think of discarding any. That is why digitally scanning photos to your computer can be a great solution for keeping large collections and allowing you to have them forever.

Keep reading for tips on scanning photos and documents.

4. Sort Things into Boxes

The process of decluttering can become confusing, and you may end up losing track of which items are to keep and which are to throw away. The best way to combat this and keep things organised is by separating them into labelled boxes, such as keep, sell, donate and throw away.

This process will not only reduce the risk of items you want to keep being thrown away, but having them already boxed and ready will also make it easier to take things to the refuse station or charity bins.

5. If It Doesn’t Spark Joy, Get Rid of It

Japanese organising guru, Marie Kondo has written four books on organising, which have sold millions of copies around the world. Her method of ‘KonMari’ encourages people to only keep items that spark joy.

“Thank them for their service – then let them go.”

Kondo’s books and her TV show are great for gathering inspiration on decluttering and organising. You can find her books at the local library and her TV show is available on Netflix.

6. Use the ‘Year’ Rule

The ‘Year’ rule is simple; if you haven’t used it in the last year then consider throwing it away. There may be items that you have been meaning to use for years but never got the chance, and the truth is, these items will probably see another year unused.

7. Throw Out Those Expired Items

Most people are guilty of keeping expired items, whether that is something in your fridge, cosmetics, or items you have had in your pantry for over 10 years. When you are working on decluttering, throw away anything that is expired, so you can start fresh in your new home.

8. Digitise Everything

When you digitise photos and documents, boxes of things can be compacted into one small hard drive. Storing all your special photos on a hard drive can be a safer way of keeping your memories all in one place, with less risk of them being lost or damaged over time. You can sort through all those papers and documents that you have had building up for years, throw away the irrelevant ones, and scan important ones to your hard drive. You can scan documents and photos at Warehouse Stationery or local libraries where the staff will be happy to help.

If you have stacks of books that you will not have room for in your new home, you can sell these at a garage sale or donate them to charity shops. Instead, get books out from the library, or buy a Kindle and store all your favourite reads there.

9. Have a Garage Sale

Having a garage sale can be a great way to rehome items that you no longer use – and you can make some money in the process! However, if a garage sale is too much hassle while you prepare to move, you can list your items on TradeMe or Facebook Marketplace, or simply donate them to charity shops.

On TradeMe and Facebook Marketplace, you can set up your listing as “Pick Up Only”, so you will not need to worry about dropping off items while you prepare to move.

10. Donate to Charity Shops

If you were unable to sell some things at a garage sale or online, you can donate them to secondhand shops, with charity bins located all around Christchurch. Someone could make good use of something you no longer require and knowing that your items are helping others can give you a positive feeling.

If you will need to remove any furniture before downsizing, there are many free places to donate these, such as:
City Mission
Salvation Army
Society of St Vincent de Paul (Vinnies)

This Spring, take the time to start decluttering your home following these tips. You will soon be ready to move into your new home and begin a new adventure without clutter holding you back.

Your life, your way!