Lauren and Gerry were in their 80s and facing illnesses that made it harder for them to stay in their home of 40 years. With stalwart determination, they found a senior community apartment that would meet their needs and signed a lease.

When Lauren called A Bridge Forward in late December, she explained why they needed help. Their house was filled with things they love, but she knew there would not be storage space in the apartment for many of them, including her sewing and craft supplies and Gerry’s hunting and fishing gear. She knew they had too much - but did not know how to begin.

The Bridge Forward team got to work during the first week of January with a written plan and timeline. Lauren and Gerry wanted to move into their apartment by the end of January, so we immediately began working one-on-one with her to go through each room of the house and help her decide which belongings would move and which would be donated. Lauren was decisive, which helped the downsizing process go smoothly.

In late January, the team packed, and on January 26, in spite of a temperature of -7 degrees, Lauren and Gerry moved. The movers arrived at 8 a.m., and Lauren and Gerry headed to their new community for breakfast. By 5 p.m., the couple’s apartment was unpacked and set up so they could spend the first night comfortably in their new home.

With the hardest part of the transition now behind them, they are relaxing a little. Lauren no longer has responsibility for cooking dinner every night, and the couple has met new friends. Although there were times during the process when Lauren was apprehensive about the move, she said many times, “I never could have done this without you.”

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  • lisa1372

As a move management company, we work with hundreds of clients as they downsize, pack and move. Here’s a common observation: Our clients are often so intensely focused on packing and the move itself that unpacking often is relegated to the back seat. “I’ll worry about that when the time comes” is a common theme.

But once that stack of boxes lands in your new home, the large task of unpacking looms.

As professional packers – and unpackers – there are steps you can take both before and after the move to make unpacking easier and more stress-free:

1. Purge before you move: One of the biggest challenges is when there are too many belongings for the new space. Take time up front to evaluate the storage space in your new home and purge items that won’t fit. A few places to start: clothing and shoes that don’t fit or are no longer in style; kitchen gadgets, serving ware and dishes that are no longer used; and sentimental items that are no longer sentimental.

2. Label boxes clearly: Use thick permanent markers to label boxes with the contents and the room the box should go in in your new home. Instruct your movers to put the boxes in the correct room. The better the boxes are marked, the less time you will waste looking for things while unpacking.

3. Pack 1 or 2 “essentials” boxes. An essentials box is filled with all of the things you will need for the first few nights in your new home. It is the first box you open and should include items for food prep, personal care, making the beds and home set-up (i.e. paper towels, all-purpose cleaner, garbage bags, etc.) For a complete essentials box list, please email:

4. Have an unpacking plan. Once your essentials are unpacked, it’s best to unpack room-by-room. Having one room complete before you start another helps minimize that overwhelming feeling. The order we recommend is: kitchen, main bathroom, bedrooms, closets, entertainment, extra spaces, artwork and décor.

5. Manage the boxes and paper as you go. When you empty a box, break it down and stack it in an out-of-the way location such as the garage or a spare room. Packing paper can be flattened, rolled up and stored in large garbage bags, making it easier to store until you are able to recycle it.

Unpacking can be a physical and mental challenge so be sure to take plenty of breaks and get help from family, friends or a professional if you need it.

To learn more about A Bridge Forward’s packing and unpacking services check us out at:

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With the onset of spring and an increasing number of people who have been vaccinated, our thoughts turn to inviting friends and family to our homes again. If clutter has crept into your home while you have been cooped up the past 12 months, now is the time to take action.

This Guardian article offers several good tips from experts for getting started. My favorite is:

“Walk around your house with the biggest cardboard box you can find and just shove it all in there,” she says. “Doesn’t matter if it’s unopened mail, paperwork or files. Whatever it is, get it all into one box. Because then, mentally, you are only dealing with one box. And then when you’re ready to deal with that box, you sit there, in front of your favorite TV show, and you can start going through that paperwork.”

As we work with clients who are decluttering, here are five strategies we recommend:

1. Start small, commit to one drawer or cabinet a day. As you see progress, many people are motivated to keep going. When I have a personal decluttering project, I devote 15-20 minutes to it right after the dinner dishes are cleaned up. You should find a consistent time that works for you.

2. Whether donating or throwing away, here are 10 things you can get rid of now:

  • Excess serving dishes

  • Extra vases

  • Old spices

  • Mismatched storage containers

  • Specialty ingredients used once

  • Extra mugs and reuseable water bottles

  • Old coats, shoes & handbags

  • Expired over-the-counter medications

  • Unused and unwanted personal care items

  • Excess or duplicate home office supplies

3. Clear off and keep flat surfaces clear. Kitchen counters, bathroom counters, bedroom dressers and tabletops have a tendency to accumulate clutter. After you clear them the first time, keeping them clean takes daily effort. Receipts, coins, and junk mail keep coming, so stay committed to putting these things away or disgarding them before they have a chance to take over the space again.

4. Fill your trash and recycling containers every week. Take out a box of junk from the attic or basement, old food from the pantry, excess cardboard shoe or shipping boxes. It is expensive to have a junk pick-up so start early and take advantage of resources available to you.

5. Give yourself permission to let go. If you don’t love it – or haven’t used it lately -- let it go. The fewer things you have, the easier it is to keep them organized … and your living space decluttered.

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