Another thing that happened around then, was that we moved. And some realizations came out of that move. We were living in a small apartment, had a couple of kids, and quite a bit of stuff. I had started feeling like I was spending all of my time taking care of all of our stuff. We had spent all of our married life so far buying the things that we wanted and needed, or thought we needed, and I was started to get overwhelmed with it all. When I got pregnant with our third child, we started feeling like it was time to move, so we started looking around at apartments. We looked for several months and never found anything that we liked and could afford. This was just after the housing crisis, and in a weird turn of events, we discovered that we could buy a house for less than we could rent an apartment. So about a week after our baby was born, we were out looking at houses. We ended up buying a house, but it was a short sale, which was really common a few years ago, and that meant that it could take a few months to get the bank to approve the sale. So, now that we were anticipating a move soon, with three small children, I wanted to get a head start, and I started boxing up everything that we didn’t really need out. Wall decorations, knick knacks, extra dishes, things that we weren’t using every day got boxed up. And I discovered that I really liked having less stuff. There was less stuff to become messy, so there was less to clean. I hate dusting, so having decorations put away and not needing to be dusted was awesome. And not only that, but our house seemed calmer. Bare walls and surfaces made our house seem less overwhelming. I hadn’t really realized the effect that all that stuff was having on me. Having several little kids was providing enough noise and chaos, and all the stuff was just adding to that and making everything feel even more overwhelming. Having less stimulation around was making all the noise and action much more manageable. Then, when the move actually came, we boxed everything up, and since we lived in an upstairs apartment, we ended up moving all of our stuff into a pile in the lobby downstairs while we waited for the moving truck to arrive. Seeing all of our stuff in one place was pretty eye-opening. I already knew we had a lot of stuff, but seeing that monsterously huge pile confirmed it. I suppose that, compared to the average household, it wasn’t like tons and tons of stuff; after all we had been living in a small apartment, and it only fit so much, but we knew that it was way more than we needed, and we knew that it was burdening us. It was a rare opportunity for us to see that, because when is your stuff ever all in one big pile? Try to imagine, if you can, all of the stuff from your house, all in one place. I think it would be hard to imagine that accurately; I know I never could have imagined it, if I hadn’t actually seen it. It was a much bigger amount than I had thought, and I was really grateful I was able get that acurate look at everything we had. We had kind of a unique situation in that we actually had to live in a temporary apartment for a couple of months while we waited for our house sale to finish going through, so we used that time as an experiment to see what we needed to live and what we didn’t. We kept a lot of things boxed up, and pretty much just got out what we needed. We didn’t put any decorations out, we kept available toys to a minimum, we put away extra furniture, and we kind of tried out a more minimalistic lifestyle for a couple of months. And we loved it. Just like I had experienced when I originally started boxing things up, our home seemed calmer and my work seemed less overwhelming.
So that experience kind of started another aspect of simple living for us, which is minimalism. We got rid of a lot of stuff that we realized we didn’t need, and that has continued for us. Now, I wouldn’t call us true minimalists, in that we don’t have a bare house or anything close to that, but we do try to not have a lot of stuff. There’s a quote by a man named Wiliam Morris that says, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” And that is really what we try to do. We have things that we do not truly need, like books, and such, but they are things that we love, and we try not to keep things that we no longer need or love. I always keep an eye out in our home for things that are not being used, and I always have a donation bag in our laundry room that I put things in that we no longer need.
Just to be clear, you don’t have to be a stringent minimalist to live a simple life. But for us, minimalism has been one way of getting rid of the things that are not essential, in order for us to have more time and energy to focus on the things that are important to us. Because really, everything, whether it’s physical things, activities, thoughts, or relationships; all of those things take time and mental and physical energy, and the more resources you spend on any area of your life, the less you will have for the other areas. So for us, having less stuff is one way to clear some space and have more time and energy to spend on other aspects of life that mean more to us than our stuff.
To Be Continued....