Home downsizing - Are you trying to help Grandma downsize her home? Without your own home upsizing? Good luck with that! Here are a few tips or actual warnings you need to watch out for when you are helping Grandma, or any older relative downsize.
Tip: Warning lights should go off in your head, at the next family gathering, when Grandma starts talking about moving out of the house she has lived in for over 40 years to move into a condominium apartment. Not that this is bad for her, but most likely going to be bad for you!
As she is talking excitedly about it being time to move, take in your surroundings. Yes you may have been raised there and hate to see the family homestead go, but really take in your surroundings. Look at how full each room is. After all there has to be over 40 years worth of memories in this house, and she has all the big heavy furniture and tables and chairs, books, toys, pictures etc, to prove it! Nothing gets thrown out, and she reminds us all while we are there about the emotions attached to each one!
The first thing you have to find out from her, is what she is taking with her. The answer may send you reeling.
Last Easter, My Mother dropped the sudden idea that she wants to move. She is done with the old homestead that her and dad raised four kids in. It has been the center for family celebrations for years. The grandchildren loved it there, and even though they are all grown up, they are sad to hear this. This is part of the plan!
She then said to all the Grandchildren to pick what they would like to have from the house. They asked her what she was taking to the condo apartment, and she said "her TV and her clothes" We were all waiting for the list of things we would be helping to move, but that list ended there. I asked "don't you need a couch?" she says "I am getting new stuff".
Then proceeds to tell us that all the Grandchildren have picked what they want and that we should too, and then come and get it! I figure she has been working on this for a while, because she said she didn't want to see anything getting thrown out, that everything had a history. So, somehow or other, us four children with houses of our own that we are trying to de-clutter, are suppose to take and deal with the contents of a five bedroom house with a full basement!.
My brothers, said to her "we are all for helping you move out mom, but we don't need any more stuff". She started to get upset, so we all agreed that we would only take one thing each that meant the most to us, and then the rest would go to charity. She agreed and liked the idea, that others would use it besides us.
So, now that we have that decided, we carry on with this home downsizing. My hubby and I rent a truck, as we are taking a special wall unit, that we really do not have room for, but it holds all the family photo albums which I want to treasure for sure. So, we bring a small truck and drive the one hour to pick it up ONE WALL UNIT!.
The grandkids help to load this wall unit, I turn my back, and next thing you know there are lamps, book boxes, and a coffee table suddenly appearing in the back of the truck. Mom had sent me to the store, and got one of the other grandkids to start loading the truck while we were gone!
So, I catch on to this trick, and start taking them back out. But my hubby doesn't have the heart to do that, as she starts remembering all the stories behind each piece. So, as we are downsizing Grandma, we are getting upsized! We make actually have to get a bigger house for all of this!
I begin to realize just how clever mom is! It takes a few days, but after the other three kids made the mistake of renting trucks, the house got cleared out. There was just a tiny pile going to charity, and that is only because she couldn't stuff it in the trucks! My sister got home and didn't even realize how much got put in the back of her truck, as my physically fit mom, actually moved stuff into it herself, and closed the back door!
So, all of us now have totally full houses. It actually got worse this year, as my husband's mother did the same thing, and didn't have the heart to say goodbye to any of the stuff, so she wanted to see it in our houses.
I am sure this is the plan.
Tip: So, if you are home downsizing, at the same time as Grandma, then you had better check your emotions at the door and come up with a game plan for all the stuff.
Later after she was settled, and we are getting past the emotions of the moving day and leaving the family home, I ask her why she didn't take some of this furniture if it meant so much to her not to see it given away. She said, it wouldn't have matched her new place, as it looked old and worn and she didn't want it anymore!
This is one way to downsize a house, give it all to your kids!
So this year, we, ourselves are looking to downsize. Find a smaller place with a smaller yard, and maybe do some traveling. So, I learned from the best. Our own kids are now 28 and 26. I remind them of the history to that couch in the living room and how sad it will be to let it go. My daughter says she will take it. I remind my son of all the books on the bookshelf that have been collected over the years.. He is an avid reader. The next place we go to will not have the same amount of room. I remind him that the local reuse center has said they will take the books.. he goes "NO mom, I will take the books"
I call my mom up, and say. "I know your secret to this downsizing now", she laughs.
So, be fore warned. There is danger to helping Mom or Grandma with home downsizing you just might end up upsizing at the same time!