Downscaling During Our Lives

Written by Bronwyn Durand

Downscaling is often used and associated with a phase later in life especially when a big event has come to an end. For example, we tend to downscale once

our children have left the home or when we retire from our jobs. Although this is often a large and noted event I believe that downscaling happens systematically throughout our lives and follows smaller life events.

Downscaling is different to de-cluttering in that often we are reducing goods that were being used, had a purpose and were organized. De-cluttering is the process whereby we reduce out of necessity as the goods we had were too much and did not serve a purpose. De-cluttering does not necessarily occur as we move into different phases in our lives but should we not downscale at these points in our lives de-cluttering might become a necessity. The process and outcome is often similar but the motivation is different.

When does downscaling occur during our lives? I believe after each small life event such as moving into your first home. Often we save goods thinking that they will be perfect for our first home. Once we have found our home and want to move in our perspectives and experiences have changed and so has our picture for what we envisioned our first home to look like. The perfect bamboo bench no longer seems to fit the picture of the small new braai area we have. Saving goods for your first home is not the wrong thing to do. Actually it is a very natural thing to do. The key is not to save so much that we end up having so many goods that de-cluttering needs to occur and money was wasted. But it is also ok to change our minds as the picture changes as well. We can paint furniture to change the look or we can sell it and put the money towards something more appropriate for the space.

Another time in our lives when we can downscale is as our children grow and develop. This is different to de-cluttering or trying to keep our children’s rooms under control. This downscale occurs once something we have kept can no longer be passed down to another younger child or the need for the goods are no longer there and will not be there in the future either. These are goods that were useful and you only purchase once as they will last through the phases of all the children in your family. For example, we tend to save books for children to read later. Once your youngest child has passed the age of the book it will no longer be used by anyone in the family again. The book can be donated to another family or to the library or it can be sold to a second hand bookshop if still in good enough order. Baby products like the microwave sterilizer, formula dispenser, car seats and camping cots which were kept and used as all the children in the family grow, can be sold as well. Often there are small crèches or struggling schools that need these goods and they can be donated.

Downscaling and de-cluttering can go hand in hand when you move to a new home or change your employment. This can occur throughout life or at bigger life moments like once your children have moved out of the house or retirement. In these moments you can reinvent yourself, have the luxury of starting fresh and plan for the lifestyle you prefer for the future.

De-cluttering can start off from an emotional space of anxiety and being over whelmed by goods that served no real purpose or goods that didn’t function within a system, to one of relief. Downscaling can often be a deeply emotional process because its where we have to say goodbye to the goods that actually stood us in good stead over the years and it is also recognizing that a part of our lives is over. This can be a very rewarding and refreshing process if you have the right downscaling partner to help you make the decisions you need to make and leave you surrounded by the special memories that grew with them to help you move forward into a new phase in your life.

Last modified on Friday, 07 July 2017 04:41