Whether they are packrats or minimalists or somewhere-in-between, helping parents to downsize can be a challenging and meaningful experience!

Many of us as adult children will be called upon to help our parents downsize from a family home to condo or apartment. As you lend a hand, consider these questions together. 

How can we collaborate?  Decide with your siblings and parents who will organize different parts of the downsize (tools, furniture, kitchen, office, garage).  Talk about what keepsakes family members would like and consider that distribution now rather than as part of an estate. Create a floor-plan of the new home so you can be realistic about space.

What goals are realistic? Two hours maximum is often all that anyone can spend in active decision-making about downsizing or organizing stuff. 

By the end of that time, ensure the area you worked on is organized and clean.  Savour the motivation of visible progress! 

How can we move forward when we feel overwhelmed?  Start with obvious non-sentimental items (shred cancelled cheques and outdated tax forms; recycle plastic and jars saved for a rainy day). Take time for breaks, to reminisce and shed a tear, and to laugh together at your discoveries.

Consider renting a storage unit for a year for some hard-to-decide items. This could ease the sorting pace, enabling careful decisions rather than those made in haste if a move is imminent.

What are we learning as we downsize? Reflect on what you learned about downsizing after your initial efforts. What surprised you? What was easy? What was difficult?  What do these learnings mean for the next downsizing rendezvous? What will you do the same? differently? 

Collaborative downsizing can be another meaningful chapter in your family story!