Learning to Live With Less

Learning to Live With Less

strings attached hammock photo

In a little over two months, our family will be moving to a new abode.

This move is exciting for a number of reasons. The new house has more bedrooms and will allow us to have a girls bedroom and a boys bedroom (yes, we only have one boy so far, but we hope to have more one day!), in addition to an office and guest room. It will also allow my husband to set up his own studio for his music school– very exciting! It’s newer than our current house, has a fenced backyard where the kids can play while I cook (hallelujah!), the kitchen is a dream, and the whole place just begs to be used for hospitality.

Those are all really great reasons to be excited about moving there, and yet I have one other reason that (at the moment) has me more excited than any other…

I want to use this transition as an opportunity to pare down what we own, seriously declutter, and more than anything, learn to live with much, much less.

You may wonder why this would matter to me since the new home will be even larger than our current one. It’s not a storage issue, but it’s actually a desire to simplify and learn to be satisfied with having less.

Reasons I’d Like to Live with Less:

1. When you have less, there is less to clean. Less to organize. Less to maintain. Less to figure out how to store and containerize. Less to do.

2. I want to adopt one of Simple Mom’s favorite phrases, “Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”. We’re trying to learn to only keep and purchase things that we love or are truly useful.

3. We honestly just have too much stuff. I think most North Americans do in general.

4. I want us to value the things that we do have. Especially my kids- when they are overloaded with books, toys, and clothes galore, it’s easy for them not to value or take good care of what they have. The same is often true for me.

5. Being a busy mom, wife, homemaker, cook, writer, gardener, etc. I want to spend less time keeping up my home and more time on relationships that matter and doing things that I deem more important. Stuff requires time and effort that I’d rather spend elsewhere.

simple flowers on plain table

Image by globevisions

6. A home that is more basic and uncluttered feels more peaceful (at least, to Ryan and I). When our home is tidy and clutter free, we feel less stressed and enjoy being there more. We trust this is true for our kids and for our guests as well.

7. Not only do we value what we have when we have less of it, but I think that we become more truly grateful for it and aware of the abundance that we have been blessed with. Gratefulness translates into generosity, a trait which I want to cultivate in my children and in myself.

The Challenge

My husband and I have decided that rather than waiting until the last month to pack everything (we don’t move until July 1st), we are going to pack as much as we can in the early weeks.

The point? To see how little we can live with and whether we even miss the things that we’ve already packed away.

Additionally, as we pack things up, we are attempting to be as brutal as we can in eliminating things that we truly don’t use, need or like. Our goal is to sell enough in a garage sale to cover all or most of our moving expenses.

My husband has actually already jumped into this, within a week of finding out that the house would be ours. He’s probably packed more than 20 boxes, and I am already enjoying this challenge. Sure, the walls are a bit more bare, most of the books aren’t accessible and I have wondered where a few things have disappeared to.

So far, the only thing I have truly missed is my small jewelry box that got packed by accident, which I plan to retrieve. The rest I can live without for now (and maybe forever?).

I’m eager to continue on with what he’s started. The kitchen and the toy/school room are calling my name.

I’ll update you from time to time as we prepare for the move, letting you know the challenge is going and how life is when we’re living with less.

Is this a challenge that you need to take up yourself? What would happen if you began to simplify and learned to live with less?

Image by robyn michelle-lee photography

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  1. Yes! Wear e moving too, but in a much shorther time. May 1st we have to be out of our current apartment and into the next. But unlike you move it is to a smaller place, almost by half. My husband and I have already gotten much out of our way by giving it away or selling it to others. I am looking forward to seeing what this will bring in the lives of people who truly adopt this method of life.

  2. Wow that is great news! Did you buy a house, or are you going to rent another one? What will happen with your garden plans? Are you still going to live in town? Sorry all the questions. I’m nosy 🙂

    I am also bothered by how much we own. But we have moved I think 7 times since we got married, and each time have gotten rid of stuff. Most of what we have, we need. The thing is, that with kids, you need a lot of stuff that gets stored some of the time. I’m thinking things like all the clothes they are currently not wearing, all the shoes, sandals, winter boots, small size cloth diapers, baby bath tub, smallest car seat, etc. etc…stuff we hopefully will use with future children but are not using right now.

    But there is also this category of stuff we have to keep and don’t want to, some knick nack stuff I was given as a kid and I know I will have to hold onto it, unfortunately, since it would be a HUGE issue if I didn’t have it (for the people who gave it to me, my parents). I don’t know what to do about that.

    Great idea about the putting boxes away. LOL my husband asked me that about my clutter pile of papers- maybe we should just throw it out we obviously aren’t using it. 🙂

    1. @Nola, Goodness, girl. Nosy, nosy, nosy. 🙂

      Nope, we didn’t buy. We can’t get approved right now with a brand new business, so we wanted a place that is long-term and will hopefully last us until we can buy (our goal is within the next 2-5 years).

      This place is still in the suburbs and is actually less than a 5 minute drive from our current neighborhood. We would love to move out further towards the country, but this house just seemed so obviously to be the right one for us for a number of reasons.

      I will still have a garden, but this summer will be a bit complex. I am doing all my regular spring gardening here, of course. The family moving in after us are some friends of ours, and the wife is also interested in gardening. So I will be planting as much as I can for both of our families and caring for it up until July, then she will take over the care, and we will split up the food the results throughout the summer and fall.

      Some stuff I will also do at the new house (because friends of ours currently live there, too!). Tomorrow morning we are going to till the garden. I will put all of my work-intensive summer stuff, like tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, etc. over there, as well as my garbage can of potatoes, my herbs and my potted apple tree. The garden is smaller there, so next spring I will have to get creative and add some more boxes and probably do some container gardening on the patio as well.

      Any more questions? 🙂

      1. @Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home, Nope, no more questions. 🙂 Sounds great! What a blessing from the Lord. I wish there were more good places to rent around here. Being rural/small town, there are not. That said, we own our house, but it wasn’t neccessarily the wisest decision, we wish we knew what we know now! But that is okay, there have also been blessings here too.

  3. I would prefer to have less stuff even though I very regularly sift through our belongings and get rid of things. It does become more a dilemna as kids get older because you need to get them on board with the idea of purging or clearning out; sometimes they surprise me, though, and declutter of their own accord. My husband too is not naturally inclined to pare down so I need to be patient but persistent in my efforts:)

  4. How exciting! I also love paring down. I love the plan to pack things away and see if you can get by without them. How smart.

    Nearly two years ago we did a major purge and got rid of most of our old books as well as a whole host of other items. It was painful at the time, but we had a very small apartment with no storage and a new baby – it was the baby or the boxes, one of them had to go. We have never missed anything we got rid of, including the books (which was very hard for me to part with). Good luck with the purge. It’s inspiring me to go through our closets and get rid of our more recent accumulations.

  5. We are not moving but I have been decluttering and eliminate a lot of things. It is so refreshing. It takes a lot less time to clean as well.

  6. Yes! I just finished reading “Living Simply with Children” by Marie Sherlock, which really inspired me to cut down on toys and other excess. I love the fact that less stuff means less cleaning!
    .-= Angela Beery´s last blog ..Giveaway! =-.

  7. We’ve moved about 5 or 6 times in the past 12 years or so and that’s my favourite part – has been simplyfying and getting rid of stuff. After all why would you pay to have someone move something that you don’t absolutely need or love. In one of our moves a couple of boxes ended up in the basement un-opened with kitchen knick-knacks. When we were moving 2 1/2 years later, I simply took those boxes out for the garage sale and the remainder went to Goodwill. I figure if I hadn’t needed in 2 1/2 years then I probably didn’t need them period. Good luck in your move.
    .-= Bette @ Frugalmomx3´s last blog ..I’m a soccer mom! =-.

  8. We just did this! We sold a ton of stuff and moved from a 1100 sf, 2 bed, 2 ba apartment on the top floor to the 800 sf 1 bed 1 ba bottom floor of a suburban home. Talk about minimizing! We sold enough stuff to cover the moving truck and the different pieces of furniture we needed to accomodate smaller space.

    It felt amazing cutting down on so much extraneous stuff, and as of yet I haven’t missed anything. We are blessed with a huge 3 x 11 foot under-stair storage that’s my pantry / cleaning closet / craft storage / winter tire storage. I think without a place to hide all that it would have been a lot harder!

    Our new place has been much easier to clean, too. Less stuff to clean in general, less nooks and crannies for things to get lost in. Good luck!
    .-= Kait Palmer´s last blog ..Drinking Wine From a Dixie Cup =-.

  9. I like the idea of living on less. I like to sometimes think of the people who have less and seem so happy. We recently moved from a 3-bedroom to a 2 bedroom apartment. It’s nice that most of our things still fit and we still have room. Less is more.

  10. We are moving too, but not sure when or where. 🙂 Our landlord just recently decided to sell the house we are currently renting so I’m really not sure of the time frame yet.

    Anyways, I’m taking this opportunity to declutter and clean out. We hope to not move to anything smaller than where we’re at now which is about 900 sq.ft with little storage(i.e. closets, pantry, kitchen cupboards). But we’ll make it work either way! With serious downsizing, we could make it in a smaller house and if God blesses us with a larger home, I’d love to deal with less clutter.

    I thought I wouldn’t have enough stuff to have a yard sale this year, but from the looks of just a couple of days worth of decluttering, I know we will. 🙂

    Anything we don’t like, use, can’t wear or just don’t have room for is going!
    .-= Mary Ann´s last blog ..My First Video! =-.

  11. We’re moving, too — May 15!

    We’re leaving our 1400 sq. ft. house for a 900 sq. ft. apartment, and baby #2 is due in July. It’s been an exciting and exhausting challenge evaluating both the usefulness and beauty of our possessions, while considering the kind of space we’ll have for keeping useful and beautiful things.

    And then, of course, there’s the question, “Can this be a blessing to others instead of just another thing I own?”

    This post was just the reminder I needed to be more selective about our “stuff”. Thanks!
    .-= Amanda Ginn´s last blog ..Giving Up Isn’t So Bad. =-.

  12. OH, that will be so nice for you!! I wonder what kind of things you are getting rid of. I am doing a major clean out at my place also. It seems like life is such a cluttery business!
    .-= Jena´s last blog ..The results are in! =-.

  13. I know what you mean! It really is exciting. My husband and I are moving into an R.V. temporarily, and although I’m nervous about it I truly can’t wait to get rid of our stuff. Our next apartment will be so clean! That is, if I am careful with my thrift store/garage sale finds. 🙂

    Good luck!!

  14. That sounds great Stephanie! We too really need to pare down what we have and just get rid of stuff. This may just be the ‘kick in the pants’ I need to get going on that.
    .-= Alisa´s last blog ..So soft… =-.

  15. The “less cleaning” thing was one of our primary motivations for doing a regular sweep and downsizing of the whole house, most especially the children’s toys. When we began airing out the baby things in preparation for #3 on the way, we realized we had duplicates of too many things – baby seats, baby bathtubs, and worst of all, baby play mats. How many “entertainment centers” does a non-moving infant need?
    My husband wanted to store things “in case we need them later” or “in case the kids get bored.” My new rule was that if we felt that we had to store something, we were getting rid of it.
    I think it’s awesome that you’re using the move as a trial period to see just which stuff you can live without before you’re miserable – or to see how miserable you *were* with all that stuff! And CONGRATULATIONS on the new house!

  16. We have been on a mission to declutter since January. I told my husband that we should pretend that we are moving and so that way when we do move someday, there will be less to move 🙂 It is new for me say good-bye to things, I use to be a bit of a pack rat but it is amazing how good it feels 🙂

  17. I”m so happy for you all! When we moved, two years ago, I got rid of half of what we owned. I haven’t missed anything!
    .-= Laryssa @ Heaven In The Home´s last blog ..Saying Hi… =-.

  18. Loved what you stated in #5 and that is where I am trying to get my heart and life set… another reason for my post today on my blog… Thank you for sharing your desires with us, funny how I see all these posts about such topic and even more so how convicting it is.
    .-= Jeannie´s last blog ..Behold That Which I have Seen… =-.

  19. You really do have impeccable timing. Our family is soon to move as well and I desparately want and need to simplify. I think the trickiest part will be dealing with art supplies and books for homeschooling ; )

  20. We did exactly the same thing last year when we moved from the UK to Canada. We the cost of transporting our stuff being so expensive it was easy to be really ruthless. Having never been to Canada before and moving our family of five to live there, we weren’t sure whether it would be a permanent move, so I having bought anything new, other than essentials, for nearly twelve months. We now know were are going to stay here permanently as we love it here but I think part of the reason is we have learned to live with a lot less. We spend more time as a family outside enjoying nature, playing games and our family has grown together because of it. I have no intention on buying more stuff now that I know we are here to stay, and while when I look in the homes magazines and see brand new sparkling homes my heart aches for something similar but I know it will not truly make me happier trying to keep the sparkle as it does playing with my kids.

  21. Our house is currently on the market so we have packed away quite a bit of stuff. I have to say I love the less cluttered look and the peacefulness it brings..My kids have not asked for one of the toys we have packed away! I am planning on keeping the clutter free look and it is helping me develop some of housekeeping discipline!

  22. I couldn’t agree with you more. I am always trying to reduce what we own, it is a constant process in our house and I love it. I rarely miss anything I give away or sell. We need SOOO much less than we think we do. Good for you and good luck! Keep us posted.
    .-= Michelle Traudt´s last blog ..Taking Care of Our Money =-.

  23. We just moved into a much larger house and have simplified in the process. I have discovered that I am just as happy without knickknacks on every surface, things hanging on the walls, and less clothing. It has been so freeing to not feel the need to go buy a bunch of stuff to “decorate” our new house. I’m content the way it is.

  24. About 10 years ago I moved from a 5000 square foot home in the suburbs to a 375 sq. foot apartment in NYC. I packed up all my stuff in storage except for the absolute basics I needed since I wasn’t used to such a small space – I figured I’d go get whatever else I needed once I was settled – and guess what? I never needed any of it ;o)

  25. @Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home, Nope, no more questions. 🙂 Sounds great! What a blessing from the Lord. I wish there were more good places to rent around here. Being rural/small town, there are not. That said, we own our house, but it wasn’t neccessarily the wisest decision, we wish we knew what we know now! But that is okay, there have also been blessings here too.

  26. My husband has always had a rule “if you haven’t used it in a year, get rid of it”. That was hard for me as a pack rat, thinking we might use it someday.

    We moved a little over a year ago to a bigger home. We got rid of as much as we could as we packed. I only regret giving away one thing and that’s a crash pad I had made for my youngest, who’s a sensory seeker. He hadn’t used it in over a year but could use it now. It was nice that we didn’t have to move & put away as much.

    The hardest thing is when our kids want to keep all kinds of junk, including old reports, candy wrappers and stuff they made out of junk. I purposedly put my daughter in a smaller room to limit how much she could store. And she still crams in as much as she can. But at least she doesn’t have a bigger room to declutter when we go crazy with her junk.

  27. Great timing for me to read this!!!! I am trying to do the same thing and we will also be moving the first part of July. This will be great to have support!!!!

  28. I totally agree with number for! One reason why I don’t want my son to have tons of flashy toys is because I want him to be satisfied with less, not always wanting the next newest, biggest gadget on the market.

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