Part 1: Dealing with Family Treasures, so your kids won’t have to
If you have reached the age where you have live through the death of a family member, you will recall how difficult that time was to get through. You remember not only pain of the loss but the pain of having to decide what to do with all the things they left behind. If you have, you will understand the need to not to get lost in the complacency of living and thinking I’m all right, there is no urgency. No matter what your current age and I am thinking if you are reading this book you are past the age of 50, the end of life is but a heartbeat away. Just kidding, statistics say that if you have reached the age of 50 with no major illness your life expectancy has increased by five years. Even with this good news about living longer, the concepts that I am writing about are appropriate for all of us as we get older. So the time to do this is now! And there is another critical piece of information we all need to be aware of, your will in most cases does not tell your loved one what to do with ALL your stuff. Therefore, if you think it the line of “I hereby give, devise and bequeath all of my worldly goods and assets of my estate to “someone,” in your will is enough to save them from having to clean your house without clear instructions you’d be wrong. Those words in your will are in fact too little information and too late to be of any comfort the family. So let’s begin the process while we are still able. I promise going through the step I am presenting will make the whole task less stressful.
Downsizing is the time to right-size
Most of us, as we age, reach a point in our lives when downsizing through need or want a reality. We may have lost a spouse, or the last of our children has left home, or we are just finding our current house to large to keep clean. In some cases, the home that somehow managed to survive the wear and tear of raising children may now be in need or repairs or even updating that we are no longer willing or able to have done.
If this is the case, then downsizing doesn’t seem too ominous, but when you look at that stuff it may appear overwhelming. As the old saying goes a journey is started by taking the first step. Or in this case maybe just a few or even many. Are you ready to start?
Taking the first step one is easier with a plan:
a. What do we really use
That first step starts with taking a real honest look at what we use on daily, weekly or even monthly basis. In doing so, we may find that in fact, we don’t use all that much. Some of what we think we do use is done just because it is there, not because we need it. When was the last time you used a particular item, last month, last year, last wedding or birthday? As we attempt to lessen our load, we should remember that what we did use as the kids were growing we no longer need going forward. What we kept even when the grandkids were young will not be needed in the future.
b. What don’t we need
Think about the two sets of dishes, one for every day and the company ones. Do we really need them? When was the last time we used them and when will we use them again? If your kids have grown and don’t come for weekly dinners or have moved outside of driving distance, do you really need that extra set? Maybe the company dishware is now good enough for your everyday use. Aren’t you special enough to use them? And are they special enough for you to cart around and have worry about breaking or even just dusting off?
a. Replacing the old with new
Have you noticed that some of what we call our staples for cooking and cleaning have changed? Some for good and not so good, I would challenge. But most I would submit have become available in smaller more appropriate sizes for empty nesters. Once the kids are gone, who needs that large and heavy cast iron frying pan? Who needs a 4 four slice toaster? Who needs a huge roasting pan? Heck who even needs that huge soup ladle (of which I have two). Heck even if you are a keener when it comes to cooking you are still cooking for fewer people. Now is maybe a good time to replace all this big stuff with smaller versions of those good old standbys.
But wait! Don’t make a mistake I did when attempting this.
I was getting rid of all of the big, hardly used pots and pans and managed to do quite well. Or so I thought until Thanksgiving rolled around and I discovered that in my determination to downsize I no longer had a big enough pan for the turkey! So be forewarned, think before you throw something in that charity box. Think of the last time you used it if it was for one of those special occasions maybe, just maybe you can find a spot for it. The spot I found is one I think most of has in our kitchen. It was that corner cabinet, you know the one reach can’t reach the back of and anything that was put there has been long forgotten. Well, I discovered that it was the perfect spot for that large roasting pan, the one I had to replace (darn it!). I also discovered another use for my husband bungee cords. I never could figure out why he kept buying them. So I wrapped one medium sized cord around the pan, and the lid hooked both ends. I then attached a longer one to the shorter cord making sure it would reach the front of the cabinet. So now when I need it, I just pull on the bungee and there it is. It’s a good thing the pans are big. I also managed to find a cookie pan with an open hand so I put my platters on an another (you got it) bungee cord that I could just tug on to bring the rest within reach. So now I push it the back of the never ending cupboard and now that once or twice a year I need it just pull on the cord.
So if you can’t remember the last time was that you needed or used it (remember to consider holidays or special occasions when you host dinner), then it may be just the time to toss it.
I will admit I was and am to some degree a gadget person; the gadgets are now mostly technology based. But, I can recall when we not only had our stove, oven, and microwave but also an electric frying pan, a deep fryer, a waffle maker, a sandwich maker and it goes on. We justified them by saying that they made things easier, quicker and the kids could use them instead of the stove which presented a danger for burns. Well, the kids grew up and did learn how to use the stove without burning themselves.
Now back to the replacements. I am amazed a how small they are making things these days, things that do the same job as those old clunky appliances we used to use. There are now things that can do the job of three of the old ones. So if your kitchen gadgets even slightly similar to mine now might just be the right time to downsize and upgrade a little. Heck, we deserve it. And so do your kids, who if they are now living on their own probably have everything they need and they are problem newer.