Jasmine Sleigh is the owner of Change Your Space based in Devon. She is accredited by the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers UK. Change Your Space has improved over 120 homes. They are a positive and pragmatic organising service, working with people to maximise their space and access their belongings with a kind, respectful attitude. Here she talks about her work and how it can help smooth the transition in a practical and emotional sense, when a family member or friend arrives at the time to move into a care home setting.
“Dementia cruelly seized my father in law in his early 60s and we all worked together to pack up their home of 45 years so they could be closer to family.
There were lots of poignant moments; my mother in law found forgotten vinyl records, took cheerful pictures of the family cot, wrote meaningful notes for neighbours and old Star Wars toys gained another lease of life for the next generation.
But there were also lots of challenges because moving, no matter what the reason, is stressful. You are suddenly considering all the things you’ve taken for granted and handling all your worldly possessions. It’s tiring. It is a transition that involves saying goodbye to bricks and mortar that have kept you safe and harboured happy chapters of you life. But also the sheer volume of what came out of the loft and cupboards surprised us all.
I have now been into 120 homes since that personal touch with moving family, to assist in sorting belongings. I have always known that reviewing our stuff can be both painful and yet hugely rewarding.
I have learnt that there is little in life that we have control over, but we can have a say with regard to our belongings. It’s one place we can flex our sense of self efficacy and see results. I am not a minimalist, I think having items to augment you life and chronicle journeys is fantastic.
But I have also worked with those for whom the belongings dictate their life. That may be an extreme case where has been excessive hoarding and someone cannot sleep in their own bed, or simply someone chooses not to improve their quality of life by moving because ‘I would need to sort everything out.’
So here are my top 3 tips as a professional organiser on how to positively approach reviewing a home;
1. Start sifting through your belongings early, start now, and declutter the easy stuff first. Take time over it. You can then consider what is to keep, what can be rehomed, donated, and recycled. You can give time to those decisions.
2. Create memory boxes if you don’t have them already. Having a place to put the special keepsakes will put you at ease, and is enjoyable. Remember access to your key memories is all, not volume of keepsakes. I use 50 Litre Really Useful Storage Boxes, the flatter ones.
3. Get help in, but be choosy. No one likes to be bulldozed into decisions so make sure it’s a patient friend, understanding family member or an accredited professional organiser. Remember 1/3 of us have enough unwanted items to fill a room, so an extra pair of legs and arms may be useful even to run items where they need to go.
Good luck if you are moving. It’s going to be OK. My in-laws are happily settled and though not all the boxes are unpacked, we’ve had some celebrations at their new address and it has it’s own happy memories now which is, of course, what makes it a home. “