How to help your parents downsize (drama free!)


Is downsizing next on the agenda for your parents? 

Does it seem like it’s dragging on too long and you want to help them – but don’t know how?

Is it probably quite daunting for your parents – and for yourself. So how do you help them when perhaps they don’t know what help they need either! Quite often there is more than one sibling involved and everyone has an opinion and some people are trying to help from a distance. So it can be quite stressful and confusing, and more than anything it is going to take time.

To help guide the process of downsizing and even allow all involved to enjoy the walk down memory-lane, I’ve got three tips that will enable a calm and efficient way to give your parents guidance on the mammoth task of downsizing.

1. Prepare

Save, save, save. It’s no secret, that the less taken when moving homes, the less there is to deal with at the other end. As a result, we save money on removals and/or storage costs, and with less to pack and unpack, we save time and effort. Without properly preparing it can seem easier to just pack everything and leave it to deal with later. This means we can end up moving things we can’t fit into our new home or that are broken and we chuck away anyway.

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Unnecessary storage costs

How to help your parents prepare.

  • Room by room, one day or one hour at a time; note down what matters to them and what would add value to their new home.
  • Ask them what they treasure most, what they’d take in the event of a fire.
  • It’s easy to get distracted and instead think about what needs to go. Only focus on what matters, the other stuff can wait.

Remember a photo can be taken and kept as a memory of something that is hard to part with but not feasible to keep.

Make sure this stage is broken down into manageable chunks so you can enjoy the process. Embrace the opportunities to relive memories and hear about cherished stories of your family. The more time spent upfront, the less stress there is overall. Most importantly it is possible to actually enjoy the process. Sounds better doesn’t it?

Ok so know you have helped your parents decide what to keep….

2. Plan

Time for some fun and get creative! Here, you can help your parents create a vision for the new home. This is a chance for them to shed things, to help create an ordered, calm home – perhaps dare I say it, your parent’s ‘dream home’.

  • Ask them what is important in their dream home? Do they want it to be cosy and welcoming or spacious and light? Is entertaining important? How can you make it easy to clean and find things?
  • Remember that you are planning for years to come when they may be less mobile.
  • Ask them to visualise the new home and map out what will go where (i.e. what will fit in the smaller spaces)

If they are visual people – then use the floor plan to draw in the furniture. If not then a list of each room and the items to go in it might work better.

Creating a vision will really help you see what is important to take. Often a vision isn’t about possessions; it’s about change, enjoying something different. Here’s where you can remind your parents that downsizing is about having less upkeep, less worry and more time to do what they want to do. 

After preparing and planning so well, you want this move for your parents to be executed with continued calmness…

Dream home

Dream home

3. Project Manage

A great way to keep the smooth momentum flowing is to assign someone as the key contact to liaise with the removalist and other deliveries etc. You may consider getting someone independent, like a friend. Better still, a professional who has no emotional connection and can look at things holistically and without bias. Almost like a mediator.

It’s always helpful to have one key decision maker and to have the roles of those involved, clearly defined (especially when everyone in the family is trying to help!). It saves the emotive arguments that families can end up engaging in.

Moving day

Moving day

Remember these tips can apply to any move so you can try them out if you are planning to move home yourself.

Just follow Plan – Prepare – Project Manage and there will be less drama for all involved!

Have your parents recently downsized? How did it go? 


Georgie Rees is an Expert Professional Organiser based in Chatswood & is empathetic to the needs of mums - she understands that having kids can be demanding no-matter how organised you try to be. Clutterfly will focus on establishing functionality within your home - the end result is more harmonious living so that your home is truly your haven. Clutterfly provides help with decluttering & implementing personalised organising systems so you can to stay on top of clutter, kids things & of course the paper piles!