Family & Parenting

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How families can prepare for downsizing to smaller homes

During the housing market crash of the first decade of the 21st century, many families learned to get by with less. For some of those families, less lavish living fit like a glove, prompting them to change their lifestyles for the long haul.
Downsizing to smaller homes was a move made by many families over the last several years. Some did so out of economic need, while others preferred the simpler lifestyle that often comes with living in a smaller home. Families about to downsize to smaller homes may find the task ahead of them daunting, but there are some ways to make the transition to less spacious residences go more smoothly.
• Discuss downsizing with kids. In many ways, youngsters adapt to change better than adults. But it's still a good idea for parents to explain downsizing to their children before they begin to prepare for their transitions to smaller living spaces. Kids who understand the reasons behind downsizing are more likely to embrace the move, while those who have not been involved in the process may find it more difficult to adjust. When the time comes to begin choosing items to discard, allow children to choose which of their items they will not be keeping. Respect their decisions, exercising patience if kids are initially reluctant or don't seem to understand downsizing.
• Design a downsizing system. It is not uncommon for families to be lukewarm when the initial process of downsizing begins, as people are understandably hesitant to discard items they worked hard to accumulate or cherish for various reasons. A downsizing system can make that initial period less uncomfortable, especially if family members are together on the first day of downsizing. Let each family member take a turn choosing an item to sell, donate or discard, and continue so family members know everyone is in it together. Once kids have seen that everyone is making sacrifices, they are more likely to embrace downsizing.
• Begin in the attic, basement and garage. Downsizing to a smaller home often means less storage space, and attics, basements and garages tend to serve as in-house storage units where seldom-used items accumulate over time. When trying to choose which items won't be coming along to their smaller homes, families can start in their current homes' attics, basements and garages, looking for items that take up too much space or those that will serve no practical purpose at their new homes. For example, that snow blower in the garage may be a godsend when the time comes to clear your expansive current driveway of another storm's worth of snow, but it might not be worth the space it takes up if your next home has a short driveway or just on-street parking. Once rooms used primarily for storage have been cleaned out, you can then move on to other rooms in the house to find items that won't be going with you. Look to sell, donate or discard items that will not serve much purpose at your next home.
• Don't just discard, donate or sell. One of the hidden benefits of downsizing to a smaller home is the chance to make some money by selling those items you won't be needing after you move into your new digs. Schedule a yard sale and give ample notice to neighbors or fellow community members so you can get as much as possible for the items you no longer need. If money is no object, donating your unwanted items to a local goodwill store or another charity is a great way to ensure your possessions find their way into the homes of people who truly need them. When getting rid of personal items, only discard those items that are no longer functional. If they can still serve a purpose, then someone can benefit from using them.
• Promise to revisit the decision down the road after moving. Families who are downsizing for a lifestyle change as opposed to out of economic need can promise to revisit the decision together in the future. Families may be quick to adjust and be grateful for the change, while others might realize their decision did not produce the desired results. Promising to revisit the decision once the dust has settled can give everyone some peace of mind and make the transition that much easier.
Families downsize to smaller homes for a number of reasons, and there are many ways to make that transition go more smoothly regardless of the reasons behind the move.     FP155130