Every Monday I post Real Life Minimalists, a profile of one of my readers in their own words. If you’d like to participate, click here for details.
Today, we have a wonderful contribution from Sarah, who extols the joys of downsizing her family’s home.
My journey into minimalism started roughly a year ago when I realized I wasn’t enjoying my home or my job (homemaking) anymore. I was caught up in a failing attempt to corral the physical clutter in our beautiful 2.5 story, 100 year old, 2246 square foot home during the long hours my husband worked and feeling like I didn’t have time to really enjoy spending time with my two small children, despite the fact that I was with them constantly. I learned about minimalism (a concept with which I was not the least bit familiar) while researching strategies on decluttering, and the concept immediately hit home. I went straight to work, one shelf and drawer at a time and seriously pared down our belongings until, by the time we were ready to put our house on the market in order to move to a better school district, realtors were happy to note that we didn’t need to put things in storage or get rid of more in order to be ready to list our house. Friends made comments such as “where did all your stuff go?” I felt a palpable decrease in my overall stress level and increase in my contentment with everyday life. I was better able to be fully present for my children and even begin focusing on other areas I’d neglected in the past (overall health and wellness for myself, for example). I felt lighter, freer, and happier.
Five days ago we moved into our new home: a one-story, 1920s brick bungalow with 1326 square feet of living space. While not small by some minimalist standards, it is certainly downsizing for us, which came as a shock to many family and friends. They seem to, quite genuinely, not understand our decision. A family of four (on the way to becoming five, as we’re in the middle of an adoption), downsizing? “Why would anyone do that?” someone asked us. Others have speculated that perhaps we’re having financial problems (to be clear, we are not). Interestingly enough, the family from whom we bought this house mirrors our family in many ways: a couple, two children, wanting to adopt a third child. But we’re also different: they saw this as their starter home and are “upgrading” to a bigger house with more room for their family. We, however, already moved out of our “starter” (actually, we believed it would be our first and last) home, and into what we see as an upgrade for our family: more time together, great schools to which we can walk, more financial freedom, less time on housework and maintenance. Overall, a simpler life focused on our family.
I love our new home, but what I am most proud of is the fact that my husband and I have made the decision that we, together, will decide what is right for our family: not based on societal norms, or what the people we know have chosen as best for themselves and their families. It is liberating to know that we don’t have to buy the biggest or most expensive home we can afford. We don’t have to take the well-beaten path if it is not going in the direction we want. I don’t purport that minimalism is right for all people or all stages of life, but it’s right for us right now.
I have found recently that people will say to me, “I know you’re busy with moving and everything, but…” my response is, “I’m never too busy for a friend,” and for the first time in a long time, I feel the truth in that instead of just knowing it should be true.
Our new motto is “experiences over things,” and I’m excited for the adventures that lie ahead.
No blog (yet!), but you can find me on Twitter @MinMeOver