Things in your home that once made you smile can feel like a burden that you do not know how get rid of. Going through a house full of accumulated goods is a daunting task when you are ready to downsize to prepare for your senior moving to assisted living.

If you start thinking creatively, you can help yourself through this time of transition. Getting rid of many things in your home can be compared to losing a significant amount of weight. Just like putting on several pounds, and taking them off, it takes a while to plan and remove excess belongings from your life.

Even if your move is months or a few years away, following a few simple steps help you successfully tackle this task with a major reduction of stress.

Tracking What You Use in the Kitchen

Keep a list on your refrigerator, phone, or computer of the things you use the most in your kitchen. After a few weeks, or a month or two, look at the list and find out what you do not use. You can take items that are cluttering shelves, drawers, and the kitchen counter, and set them aside for donation or giving to others.

Determine What Goes with You and What Goes Somewhere Else

“It goes,” can mean two things. It goes with you or it goes to someone, or it goes somewhere else. Your local grocery, office supply, or discount store carries color coded sticker dots that come in handy to help you categorize things in your home according to where they will go. Use one color to show that the item goes with you, and other colors based on where the item will ultimately go.

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Trash Bags: Clear or Opaque

It is never, ever, a good idea to bag up important belongings in an opaque (or black) trash bag. Many valuable belongings stored this way, have been mistaken for trash and lost forever to the landfill. If you must store something you want to keep in a bag, choose clear bags so that you and others who help you will know exactly what is in the bag.

It is Time for Your Kid’s Stuff to Go

When you are preparing to downsize, you should also be ready to call your children or any other person who is storing things at your home. They need to come get their things. If they do not want them, then they can help you get rid of them. You will enjoy having the extra space for sorting your belongings once theirs are gone.

Throw a Party or Two

Before you invite your children over to get their belongings out of your house, you might want to set aside things of yours that you no longer want. Throw a “party,” and invite the kids to take their belongings and anything they want that you have decided not to keep. If you do not have children, or there are things left after your kids have gone home, then have another “party” and invite friends or charity workers over to pick up the leftover things.

A few other tips will save you from several headaches or frustration. When you are sorting through your things, keep your sessions short. Two hours are about the maximum you should spend at a time, going through your belongings. Starting with the easiest room first will help you feel a sense of accomplishment because it should not take as long as other rooms. Do not leave the room once you start, it is easy to get distracted.

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