Downsizing – preparing for the emotional impact

Any big life change, especially downsizing, can be equal parts exciting and nerve-wracking. Leaving the family home can bring up a range of emotions, not just for yourself but for other family members such as children. Your kids may be adults who flew the coop long ago but they may still have an attachment to your house, especially if they grew up in it.

So how can you best prepare for the emotional impact downsizing can have?

Firstly, recognise that this can be a stressful period

so there may be tears (of both joy and of sadness). Talk to your family and friends about your feelings. You can also reach out to your GP or another health care professional if you’re feeling stressed, as they can recommend strategies to help keep you calm.

Focus on the exciting new chapter of your retirement and life ahead of you

but don’t forget all of the happy memories that you had in your house. A nice ritual to do, when downsizing, is to have a gathering at your home with family and friends, such as a reminiscing day. It can be a fancy event, or as low-key as you want (ideal if you’ve already packed up all of your nice plates and cutlery!). You can all share your favourite moments from living in the house and if you have them available, go through old photographs together. This can be a lovely way to pay tribute to your home and enable everyone to process the move.

Don’t be shy in letting your friends and family know how they can lend a hand ahead of and after the move. They may be unsure of specifically what assistance you need, so let them know if you need help packing your belongings, doing op shop runs, lifting furniture on the day, etc.

A little bit of effort goes a long way when it comes to making friends in your new community

You may feel unsettled at first when you move into your new area, especially if you don’t know any locals. Introduce yourself to your new neighbours, read the local paper to see what events are on and which local groups are welcoming members, and try your hand at different hobbies. Even if you’re shy, you’re bound to find some friendly faces who are eager to become friends. Once you’ve established social connections in the area, you’ll start to feel more like a local. You’ll also have support right on your doorstep should you need it.

Support can also come in the form of home assistance

You have downsized to live the life you want so why not offload the not so fun tasks as well and get some help with cleaning your new home and running errands, or you may just want someone to check in with you every now and then.

Downsizing is an exciting time of change and new beginnings, so being aware of the emotions that can come up around the move will help you feel more settled. Involve your family as much as possible in the process, so that you can support each other—you don’t need to go it alone.