Transitions With Jean Blog


Mar 8, 2023

It happened again this week. I got a call from my son, Mike, who is also my head driver at our moving company. “Mom,” he said in a very exasperated voice, “We unloaded the truck into this customer’s new apartment. The boxes are stacked to the ceiling. There is so much stuff that there are only goat-paths going through the apartment! Why do people do this to themselves?”

“Goat-paths”, what a perfect description of what some apartments look like when customers try to downsize with the wrong mindset.

Readers, let me give you a little back-story. When seniors are moving from their big family house to a
more-manageable apartment, many hire our transition services, where we guide them with what tomove. They are overwhelmed and need help with how to do it. We help determine what they need to live comfortably. We show them how they can set up their new home with items that they love and
that are practical for their new lifestyle.

Honestly, there really aren’t big secrets to this process; however, it takes their commitment to only
move what makes their new home comfortable and enjoyable.

Then there are the customers who refuse to hear our message. They get annoyed with me and say, “Jean, you just don’t understand. I can’t get rid of items in my house. Everything has a special memory.”

Believe me, I do get it. Every single item in my house has a history, or serves a purpose, or both. I understand treasures.

The reality is you are moving to substantially smaller living quarters. Your new home can be beautiful, homey, and functional. For that to happen, you must reprogram your thinking.

Don’t think of it as “getting rid of” memories, but rather, think of it as “picking the best and most practical” of your treasures.

Start by looking at the layout of the new apartment, and what items you need to live in each room. Then, cherry-pick your favorite items from your house that meet those requirements. Think practical. There is a reason you are moving. Trying to stuff seventy years of mementos into a one- or two- bedroom apartment doesn’t work. The result will be those goat paths.

How many dishes do you need? Think six: 6 plates, 6 bowls, 6 glasses, etc. If you have five different sets of dishes, pick your favorite set, and then just take 6 of each piece. It is OK to break up a big set. And, even if you have 23 rolls of paper towels, just take two. Think necessities.

With each room, consider what the layout should be, then pick the items that best match your needs; add in some decor by selecting from your treasures.

In the end, it will be beautiful because you will be surrounded by items that are practical and that give you pleasure. No goat paths. You will feel right at home because you are.

Jean Long Manteufel writes a column on the first Sunday of each month about life changes associated
with aging.  A collection of her columns is available in paperback and on Kindle at She can be reached at 920-734-3260 or