More on Stuff and Simplicity
Based on a couple of comments regarding “stuff” last week, I wanted to follow up my list of the Top Ten Reasons to Live in a Small Home.
Jessica was pretty passionate, feeling I had lied about the ease of cleaning a small home. She commented she lives in 600 square foot house and finds that she is cleaning all of the time. “It is so much harder to stay organized in a small house. The bigger the house, the more room to organize and store your stuff,” she wrote.
Kathleen also wrote, “What I’ve discovered in moving from a smaller house to a larger one is this: it is easier to keep things tidy in the larger house. There is a place for everything and I don’t mean the wanton accumulation of junk, but just the regular amount of clothing and linens and towels, keepsakes and etc., within reasonable limits.”
My mother also said the same thing after up sizing from about 1,000 square feet to 2,500 or so square feet.
I agreed with her until we completed our own downsizing. I agreed with her because, well, I was much like her, I had too much stuff for the size of home we had.
My mother was a packrat. She had stuff literally filling almost every available inch of space on the floors, the walls and every closet in The Little Green Bungalow. It was a nightmare to clean.
When she upsized, she finally had a home that matched the amount of furniture and décor she possessed, but she found herself in the same situation, overflowing with stuff, each time she downsized after selling The Big Brick Tudor.
I, too, had too much stuff, from my first apartment to our duplexes and when we purchased our house. If there was an empty space, I filled it with more furniture and stuff.
I had, by extension become my mother with regards to stuff. I didn’t know a). The ability to let go of sentimental items, nor did I b). Know the difference between what we “need” and what we “want.”
Two things changed my life with regards to how I view stuff: 1). I went through the process of having to clean out my mother’s last home. Even after we went through it together and held a sale, Dale and I still had more than a moving truckload to store, move here and process after she died. I didn’t want anyone to have to go through with our stuff. 2). When we downsized, we had to learn to let go and keep only the things we love and need.
I do know that on Monday, it took me 1 hour to dust, sweep, mop and scrub the bathroom. If I had done a full out cleaning, washing windows, blinds and ceiling fans, it would have taken me 2 hours.
Yes, I probably do organize more than I did in a larger house. I know I didn’t spend time as I did yesterday getting off mailing lists, organizing the medicine cabinet or even the pantry (Sadly, I found spices from when we moved into our house 17 years before that were still in the pantry when we were packing to move).
But I don’t view that organizing as a bad thing. Really, who wants 17-year-old spices hanging around their pantry, linens they never use or 8 sets of towels and washcloths for 2 people taking up space in the closet?
I’m no way suggesting that Jessica or Kathleen are packrats, but it’s possible they had too much stuff for the size of house/storage they had. I know there must be some explanation as to our different experiences (and it could have to do with the number of people in their homes, their storage space, etc.)
I’ve learned that moving to a small house isn’t just about downsizing, it is a full lifestyle adjustment and it’s not for everyone. Thankfully, we’ve been able to adjust. We’re not consumerists, we don’t buy into the advertising myth that we have to change styles of clothing or interior design with each season or even every year (and if we do buy something, we practice the one in/one out rule).
We chose a timeless cabin decor that will not become dated and thankfully, Carhartt is what is considered fashionable in rural Arkansas.
We’ve learned to let go of sentimental things; a photograph can bring back the same memories as the actual thing. As a result, we’ve achieved the simplicity of living we desired by determining the square footage we had to work with, the available storage and balancing those things (A place for everything and everything in its’ place).
I would love to hear from others who have downsized as to your experience with regards to the time it takes you to clean and organize and how you have achieved a simpler life (or not).