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I love this pithy line shared by an adult daughter who is helping her mother downsize.  After selecting what she would take to her new smaller home, the older woman suggested that her daughter could take much of what was left. Her daughter’s response was “Mom, your downsizing cannot be my upsizing.”

In Mindful Compassion While Seniors Downsize, I shared some reasons why seniors struggle with downsizing.  For many of these generous folk, an easy solution would be for their adult children to take everything that the senior no longer needs and incorporate the items into their own homes.  

How many of us have been asked to do just that? And can’t or choose not to. 

Here are some suggestions to help you: 

* Discuss making donations in a positive way. Beloved items aren’t being thrown out. It is time for them to live with someone else so they can be enjoyed again.  

* Start BIG. One woman chose as her first downsizing task to find a new home for her piano. She loved the space created by letting it go which motivated her to donate more furniture. 

* Invite your parents to tell the story of growing up in a time of scarcity. How did this experience influence their own desire to acquire?  Affirm these experiences as real and right for the time. Gently move the storyteller to the present. "What might you let go of now?”  One adult son sits with his Dad to hear stories for the first 30 minutes of every clear-out day. And then he says: “Ok, Dad, let’s get to work!”

* Identify sorting jobs that can be done without you being present.  If your Mom has recipe books that are hardly ever used, encourage culling while she watches a Canadian winter’s worth of TV curling. If there are a few recipes that Mom wants from a particular book, snap a photo with your phone and print it. Or carefully rip out those pages.  Make a notation on the first page of the book that there are a few pages missing and add it to a charity box. 

* If someone is hesitant to let an item or collection go, take a photo of the person with the items. Print and add to a memory book. 

* Incorporate the Game of 5 or 10 as you let things go. "Mom & Dad, how about saving 5 items of each kind?" 5 teacups, 5 recipe books, 5 ball caps.

May you approach each day of sorting as an adventure or excavation. Dress as if you are going on a safari or bring your ’shovel’ for the dig. Yes, adjusting or recalibrating our own attitude each day can do wonders. Find a friend who will keep your confidences so you can debrief this challenging work. May you find energy for another day!