how we fit our life into 288 square feet: downsizing process

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

On that day last fall when I resigned and picked up Taylor early, I went home to just sit.. and enjoy... (just for a moment) not to have to worry about anything else. Then I looked around...and soon came to the conclusion that we just had too much stuff. Although, I know Marshall knew that a long time before. I just didn't have, or take, the time to do anything about it. We didn't "need" it all. I didn't even know everything we had. And once I realized what would likely come from this event- having to find a way to move on our land nearly immediately (though it did take months to get the tiny house ready) I knew that we needed to start sorting through everything that we had. Hence the downsizing..

We had to move this 1600 square foot house..
..into this 288 square foot home!!

At our other house we had a barn, and that barn wasn't really used for anything except storing tools. So I figured this was a perfect place to put things as we go through our belongings - "out of sight, out of mind," right?

So it begins..

And it happened gradually, because we never really knew the real "timeline" of when anything would happen. There was a lot of waiting last fall, but we have gotten used to waiting over the years --- does the phrase "hurry up and wait" mean anything to you? Military life (and transitioning out of such) sure gets you acquainted with the waiting process (orders, trainings, moving, house-purchasing, limited time home... etc). Remember, we've moved 5 times in the past 5.5 years of marriage (yes, that's right!!) so we are used to waiting for our stuff to be moved into or out of storage. So it began gradually.

Every day I'd take Taylor around the yard and to the barn, back and forth, in his wagon a few times. I piled up some stuff and sat him next to it all. He enjoyed getting an abundance of wagon rides while getting to play with whatever I set in front of him - just being outside - and I enjoyed seeing our house empty over time.

It was really happening! Everything we went through in the fall called for a huge change... We were getting rid of stuff! (Well, out of sight, out of mind, at this point in the process) Repeat the above scenario maybe four times a day, nearly every day for two months, and you come up with a barn packed full of stuff. You could barely walk around the piles.

And then we had to move it all. We started emptying the house and barn to get it "show ready" so we could try to sell it, and all this stuff had to be moved 23 miles to the garage at our land. This happened over time as well... I packed our Escape up as much as I could, and drove three loads a weekday (or every other day) for a few weeks over to the old house on our land...As much as Taylor would let me drive him around, that is!! Keep in mind, the houses are 23 miles apart, so that's an hour of driving per round-trip. It was a LOT. At first, I couldn't find the garage door key, so I put it in the back of the old house add-on. Then once we found the keys (they were just sitting in the old house, we were never given the keys when we bought the property), we had to move everything from the add-on into the garage, just a few yards away.

Once we were actually moving in and getting all of our personal things out of the house, we had to decide what we were going to store in the garage. And I had to make sure we had two separate sides to the garage - storage and sell. Let's just say our garage is packed right now!

After living in our tiny home for a month (today! one month!) we've found that we really don't need that much stuff. And then I walk into the garage and think... Where did all of this come from?!?!?!

We still have a lot of work to do in the downsizing department, when looking at our garage full of stuff... But we did it! Right now in our tiny abode, we have just what we need (ok, maybe a little more, but not much more) all in 288 square feet... It's hard to imagine that we have anything else in our possession, until we walk through the garage, that is.

Whenever I open the door, a few things comes to mind...
+Why do we have so much stuff?!
+Where did all of this come from??
+Oh, I've been looking for that!
+I'll probably need that one day...
+I just can't get rid of that yet!
+Let's just have a yard sale right now and be done with it all!

..And then I walk back into our house and "forget" about whatever that "it" was. It is such a nice thing having the majority of our belongings in a garage. "Blessed forgetfulness," if you will. But really, we need to get rid of it. Sorting out what we are storing from what we are selling or donating is a big start. So far, all we have is the mess of things (see above photo) and a small pile of stuff to the side that needs to be boxed and donated. This weekend we will really get down to business on sorting through it all, which leads to the next step---

The next step is to box everything up and label it, even briefly. I personally feel like I won't be able to relax about the situation in the garage until everything is tucked into a box.... Piles of boxes are easier on the eyes than piles of things, after all. We will get there. And soon, likely a few months from now, we will sell or donate the rest.

So, how did we move everything from 1600 square feet into 288 square feet? Simply put, we first put everything into the garage. And when we did move in at the new year, we brought just the "essentials," which consists of sheets, toiletries, clothes, whatever food we had, and the appliances we needed. As we figured we needed or wanted something, be it books, toys for Taylor, or additional pans or mugs, we just went into the garage to find it.

In all, I don't necessarily have a step-by-step process of how we "downsized" everything we had. All I would suggest to others who may be in a similar situation, or maybe who just want to find a way to get rid of stuff, is this: keep note of what you use, and if you haven't used it in two weeks, put it away - out of sight, out of mind. Walk through your house, and anything you think or know you can live without, put it away - out of sight, out of mind. If anything comes up as a maybe, it's probably not essential, and is likely something that can show up at your garage sale down the road. Now there are good things to store away in the garage, like in our case, things that won't fit into the house - family furniture, file box with important documents, winter coat and boots, fishing poles, ladders, etc. But a lot of it, it can go. I'm not sure how we acquired things, but after 5 and a half years of marriage plus a baby, it happens.

Getting rid of stuff, or at least having it somewhere else in storage, is completely freeing. We walk into our tiny house now and think it is just the right size. I mean, we have 46 acres to wander around and play on. We spend most of our days outside anyway, in the pasture, by our ponds.. We don't need that much room inside, and even so, its all the room we need!

A tiny place means less things and more us.
A tiny place gives us the freedom to be on our land, which is where we feel at home.
A tiny place also means utility bills a quarter of the price they used to be!
A tiny place means we can have a nicer place for less than we had before (because duh, there is less square footage for those nice features and finishes to cover, which is less cost)

A tiny place means we are on our land... starting our farm here in the next few weeks... and we are home!


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