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When come to Cleaning your house before you leave, the sooner we start the better who know what “later” will bring.

While we may still be healthy and lead active lives, we need to prepare now for the time when that may not be the case. Death is, of course, the final event, but the cleaning metaphor we are using will also help should there come a day when we become incapacitated. Most of us, as we age, may reach a point in our lives when downsizing through need or want becomes 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 all 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 is easier with a plan:

a. What do we actually use

That first step starts with taking a real honest look at what we really use on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis. In doing so, we may find that in fact, we don’t use all that much. In fact, some of what we think we use is used 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 the load, remember that what we did and used as the kids were growing or even when the grandkids were young is not what we will regularly be doing 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 they have moved outside of driving distance, do you really need that extra set? Maybe the company dinnerware is now good enough for your everyday  use. Aren’t you special enough to use them?

 

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If they aren’t special enough do you want to cart them around having to worry about breaking or even just dusting them?

a. Consider 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 say 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? props-1018963_1280

Who needs a four slice toaster? Who needs a huge roasting pan? Who even needs that huge soup ladle (of which I have two). Heck, even if you are a keener when it comes to cooking ask yourself are you still cooking for a crowd or much fewer people most days. 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 the 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 place I found is one I think most of us has in our kitchen. It was that corner cabinet, you know the one you 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 found another use for my husband’s collection of bungee cords. I never could figure out why he kept buying them. Anyway I wrapped one medium sized one around the pan and the lid and then hooked both ends together. I then hooked a longer one to a shorter one making sure it would reach the front of the cabinet. So now when I need to use that pan 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 handle, so I put my platters on a used another (you got it) bungee cord that I could just tug on to bring the rest within reach. So now when I push it to the back of the never ending cupboard when I do need it all I have to do is just pull on the cord.

But 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 still 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 are even slightly similar to mine now be just 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 probably newer.

The key thing to remember here is in our Clean Your House Before You Leave plan having less means less for our kids to have to deal with once we are gone. So even when deciding on downsizing the big old version for something newer and smaller is a good thing, remember it will still be part of what’s left behind for the kids to handle. I guess what I am saying is – if it is a nice to have rather than a need to have, let’s not have it.