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“In early September, our 80-year-old mother found a one-bedroom apartment in a seniors’ building near the town where she grew up. She had been thinking about moving back to that area for a few years but had made no real preparations. Suddenly, the race was on to sell her house in North Bay, radically cull her possessions and organize a long-distance move – all in time for her November 1st move-in date. Mom was very intimidated by the magnitude of the task at hand.

We (her three sons) knew that mom (and we) needed the guidance and assistance of a pro. We had no experience with this kind of downsizing effort and we had limits on how much we could be involved in the process owing to various constraints in our own lives. We talked to Darlene, liked what we heard and encouraged mom to engage her.

The move started to take shape as soon as she and mom started working together at the end of September. After a walk-through of mom’s house, Darlene was able to set priorities and sequence tasks. Within hours, she was advising us on how and when we could best help our mom and coordinating with the other professionals (real estate agent, cleaners, movers) involved in the move.

Mom’s two-level, three-bedroom house was chock-full of furniture, artwork and other possessions that would not all fit in her small apartment. Therefore, the top priority was good decisions on what she should/could take with her. On her first visit, Darlene calmly assessed the situation, made recommendations and, through patient, empathetic, and persistent coaching over the course of her visits, she was able to persuade mom to follow most of them.

Darlene’s impartiality and willingness to take charge of difficult conversations and diplomatic demeanour forestalled almost certain conflict as mom’s sentimental attachments to possessions has been a source of family discord in the past. Despite her early intention of taking way too much stuff (much of it not suited to her new space) mom ended up at her new place right-sized.

In addition to decisions about what to keep, mom needed help figuring out what to do with everything that was not making the move. On this matter, Darlene’s knowledge, experience and connections were invaluable. She knew which items could be sold and the prices they’d fetch and which ones could be donated to charity. Once she and mom agreed on the pricing of an item to be sold, Darlene listed it on Marketplace, managed calls from potential buyers and arranged pick up times that worked with our schedule.

This work allowed mom and helpers to stay focused on packing and house showings, and generated quite a bit more money than would have otherwise been the case. Darlene also hauled many of the donation items to charities and arranged junk removal pick-ups for all the leftovers.

On move-out day, Darlene came to the house and supervised the loading of the van. This allowed mom to leave North Bay a few days early in order to relax a little and prepare things on the other end. She also helped arrange to have fellow professional organizer on hand to help mom to quickly set up in her apartment.

In our introductory interview, Darlene said that downsizing engagements generally entailed 40% organizing, 40% counselling and 20% mediation work. Our work with her involved all of these, plus impeccable communications. Her clear vision and calm, gentle persistence – often in the face of indecisiveness, backsliding and pushback – guided mom from a state of near panic to sensible, workable decisions about nearly aspect of the move. Detailed and timely communication with us (detailed written debriefs after every visit) assured us that mom was in good hands and guided both our moving-related communications with mom and our labour when we were able to be on site.

It is impossible to overstate the importance of Darlene’s services in making this major transition in my mom’s life a success. She guided us all through a daunting challenge with many potential pitfalls. Our mother is very grateful for all of her help and sees the entire engagement as excellent value for money. We are thrilled that everything got done fairly calmly despite the time pressure, and that mom seems to be happily settling into her new abode.”

The Baas Family