The Wiser Generation and Downsizing

As a home organizer, I work with a wide range of clients. Believe it or not, many are already organized, but simply don’t have the time, energy, or headspace for downsizing and organizing. Many clients are of the Wiser Generation, aka Seniors, who must downsize for a variety of reasons.

One of those reasons is needing to move to assisted living/ retirement communities/ smaller homes / or in with family members.  

The mindset needs to be “Which items will come to the new residence?” instead of “‘What should I get rid of?” This really does make it easier. I am KEEPING this… such as you want those heirloom candlesticks, the framed photos on the mantel, and your favorite coffee mugs. The things you never liked so much but had no reason to part with, you are NOT KEEPING. There are so many categories of our belongings I could write a book, but this is a short article, so I’ll cover only a handful of categories.

Glassware: A sweet memory of mine is spending the night at my grandparent’s and having a glass of juice at breakfast. We sat at the Formica kitchen table and I felt very grown up, as this was more sophisticated than a Dixie paper cup with knock-knock jokes. I digress…

What I observe in homes established in this era is a different glass for everything.  Juice glasses, water goblets, shot glasses, brandy snifters, wine glasses, champagne flutes, and more. Once it starts coming out of the cupboard you see the sheer volume and realize you probably aren’t going to need most…or few…or any… of these categories. Keep what you need.

Books: For a book-a-holic like myself, I have many, and fill my bookcases as if they were old friends. However, space is limited in smaller spaces. Pick your favorite favorites. Perhaps you had a vegetarian phase, needed to know about a medical condition, or had a category of special interest. If you’ve passed these phases, pass on the books.

Dishes- meat, dairy, pareve for daily use, Shabbos dishes, Pesach dishes.  Pare down… have less per set. Are you using disposables more often?  Or do you need something lightweight like Correlle? Reassess your needs and downsize accordingly.


Storage containers: My parent’s Tupperware is still going strong… there’s still a very yellow component to their kitchen.  Regardless of what safety/plastic standards are/were, I’m not discussing them. Butter tubs, one-time use containers, lids without bottoms, bottoms without lids, yellowed, stained, cracked…throw them out.  Bottoms and tops need a match and things that nest inside each other save space.

Glass jars: You do NOT need more than one small-ish shelf of empty spaghetti and jelly jars. Post them on freebie groups and there are interested parties, or put them in the recycles if you can’t bear to throw them out. 

Personal care items and food items: They have expiration dates for a reason.  I can envision a few of you reading about to argue that dates are only put there so the company makes you buy more.  However…when years go by and you have a product in 2022 that expired in 2019 or sooner I would lightly urge you to toss it.  I am not giving advice for 2020 and 2021, but in my humble opinion, I’d probably toss those also.

Bags: The infamous bag-of-bags in the kitchen begets more bags of bags. The luggage is no longer to airline standards if you fly. The school bags, the picnic coolers, the garment bags. Which are your favorites, and how many do you really need?

Perhaps a future article can cover more categories, but if you start with these, which hopefully aren’t too emotionally charged like the memorabilia category, you’re off to a good start. 

I highly recommend beginning the process before you have to and the pressure is on… Work in small blocks of time to avoid overwhelm. Envision your smaller space and how you would like it to look. …and if you need that virtual hand-holding, reach out and I’m here to support you.

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Published by Karen Furman

Philosophy = Your home should be organized so you know where things are, to the degree that you feel relaxed and not stressed in your space. Method = A combination of Marie Kondo + FlyLady + my own style. YOU make the decisions. YOU decide what to keep and not to keep. I help provide clarity. Attitude = Positive, enthusiastic, non-judgmental

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