A few years ago, I was working a job I hated. We had 2 kids at the time (almost 3) and I wanted desperately to stay home with my babies – something we didn’t think we could do because of our debt.
But I was desperate (and really hated my job), so we made a plan and got serious about tackling the issue so that I could quit my job (plus we really couldn’t afford putting 3 kids in daycare).
We took a hard look at our expenses and after some serious slashing, our budget was under control enough that I could quit my job if my husband took on a second one. We were blessed that he was soon hired as an on-call emergency room technician – it was exactly what we needed – and he only had to work a few shifts a month to more than cover what we needed.
I was thrilled to quit my job and stay home with my babies.
That is, until I realized, many months later, that I was barely spending any time engaged with my kids. Instead, I cleaned. All. Day. Long.
You see, we had a lot of stuff. And it’s not like my house was spotless all the time. I just had to clean constantly to keep up with everything. It was exhausting! And I really don’t like cleaning!
One day, I’d had enough.
I decided that I was tired of the ridiculous amount of time I spent cleaning and the ridiculously small amount of time I spent engaged with my kids. So I went a-googling and found … simple living.
It was exactly what I needed. I spent hours reading about people who had cast off consumerism in favor of a more simple life. I read about families who had minimal possessions and lived in RVs. I even found a minimalist blogger who lived close enough that we could meet in person (and now we’re best friends -seriously).
What I ultimately learned was that it was time to downsize. And not just our possessions, though we really needed to downsize there, too. There were other areas in life that we needed to address, like our time commitments and our spending habits. Everything needed attention.
It’s work. But it’s so worth it.
Because after you assess what’s really important in your life and make the decision to make it a priority, you have to live more intentionally. You just have to.
Once you see that your relationships, your time, your home is cluttered up with a bunch of stuff, stuff that has no meaning, that you really could do without, it’s hard to want to hold on to it.
And you start to let go.
Which is why I’m such an advocate of downsizing and living simply. Not only has it changed our lives (since, you know, we now live in a school bus), but I’ve seen the positive impact it’s had on so many other people.
Today, I wanted to share my top reasons for downsizing. If you’re thinking about downsizing but just aren’t sure if it’s the right step, I ask you to really evaluate your situation as you read through the list and think about how downsizing might benefit you and your family. (And please don’t think that your downsizing journey has to look like mine.)
Downsizing has given me much more time to focus on those things that matter most to me. What matters most to you? Is it getting the time and attention from you that it needs?
Since we downsized, our health has been SO much better. I have time to research and implement the things I learn about, like real food and essential oils. My family rarely gets sick now. And when we do, it doesn’t last very long. Does your family have a lot of sick days? How could downsizing help prevent those?
Creativity fuels creativity. Which, for me, fuels joy. And I find that I become so much more creative in other ways – I’m not just making new things, but I’m also more creative with parenting problems. Do you express your creativity often? How does it make you feel when you do? How does it make you feel when you don’t?
How many people do you know who are stressed, overworked and exhausted? You? Downsize. Maybe your kids don’t need such a busy schedule. Maybe you don’t need to volunteer for 50 different organizations. Maybe you need to take a nap every once in a while without feeling guilty about the things you aren’t doing while you do take said nap. What can you say no to?
It wasn’t long ago that we had no time for relationships. Recently, my husband’s Grandpa died, and we were able to just go and spend time with his family. And now, if his Grandma needs us, we’ll be able to go help her. This is more important to us than any of the other reasons – we don’t want to look back on any more lives and say, “why didn’t we spend more time with them?”
When we paid off our last debt, it was like a giant weight was lifted off my shoulders (I swore I’d never use that phrase, but really, that’s what it felt like). And now, our living situation allows us even more freedom to travel, save money and put more time into relationships.
Lastly, if finances are stressing you out, downsizing may be exactly what you need. You can’t spend yourself out of financial stress. Trust me, I’ve tried. Downsizing in spending will certainly help, but downsizing time commitments will as well (those can be costly, too). Do you have a financial goal you’re working toward? What impact would downsizing make on that goal?
Obviously, this is a process, but you have to start somewhere. Do you need to downsize? Make the decision to do it. Then make a plan and start taking the steps you need to take back your life.
Downsizing is a good thing. Glad it’s working out for you and your family. Sounds like you’ve got it under control and are happier for it. 🙂
I would love some tips on how to downsize…… I feel overwhelmed, we have accumulated so much. Love your site, Thanks for all you share!!
Just found your site! Love it, me and my family our currently planning to downsize from 1800 sq ft to 400sq ft. We are so excited!
Wow, Jamie, that’s awesome! Welcome!
It must be so great being able to stay home and actually see your kids grow up and be able to spend time with them. Definitely also a top priority and reason for us to downsize. We don’t have kids yet, but look forward to it now that we know we can have the freedom to develop a healthy relationsship with them 🙂
Love, love, love this! Shared with our FB readers at Homestead Lady. We are moving so that we can do just this and its liberating. I love your comments about cleaning! With homeschooling, I’m in this constant struggle between allowing them enough material to be as creative as they’d like and not spending all of our time (they do chores, a lot of them, but we still clean all the time) wasted on tidying!!!
I’m so on board with how this can affect you affect people in positve way! We downsized too – I’m still in the processs. It’s amazing how much “things” don’t matter as much once you take a break from them/get over that first purging hump.
Oh my Goodness…My husband and I became vegetarians in October and already we are only organic, local or fair trade, and moving into a paperless household. I have a lifetime of collecting and amassing magazines and articles and catalogs and books…I love the idea of downsizing too, who needs stuff!! I love to cook and make my own products which brings joy to our home, that is far more important. Thank you for your inspiration!
My husband and I are fascinated by bus conversions and tiny homes. Your bus is definitely the most attractive I’ve seen so far – I love how light and bright it is.
We’ve been downsizing for over a year and still working at it. We’ve given away a piano, freezer, bookshelves, dressers, and all kinds of little things. It’s been so fun to bless other people who needed these things but couldn’t afford them (such as the piano).
Our aim is to fit our family of 6 into a townhouse. Our current house is 2200 sq ft. of living space plus 1100 sq. ft. basement AND a shop under the carport. We don’t use most of the space.
I’m planning to write about our journey toward minimalism and living in a smaller space someday soon. Reading other people’s stories keeps me motivated to continue plugging away and moving forward.
Thanks, Amy! I’d love to hear more about your journey. Also, so glad I clicked over to your blog! I went to an orchard the other day and came back with a bunch of peaches and now we have fruit flies everywhere! I just need a banana …
Neat, hope the trap works well for you too 🙂 If you can cover up the peaches somehow overnight you’ll catch more flies while you’re sleeping.
I am ready to downsize, and have already begun doing this, getting rid of everything I don’t need, but my husband is not as willing. Any ideas on how I can convince him? Love your boog!!
Thanks! This might be helpful: https://shalommama.com/how-to-live-simply-when-your-spouse-doesnt-want-to 🙂
Thank you for this post! We are working on fixing an old RV so we can park it on our farm land and move there. The plan was to live there, farm, and build a house. It is still the plan, but now I am thinking maybe we should not build a house… Or at least make it much smaller than our original plan. I prefer to have more time to farm and teach and explorer with my kids. We’ll see. What is your friend’s blog? I was looking for good minimalism blog.
Sometimes simpler is much better (less upkeep, less overwhelming, etc)
My fiancé and I have been browsing Craigslist for a bus/tiny home for a while now. I believe we’ve decided converting a bus would be the best option for us. Do you have any advice on funding? Are there grants for this kind of thing?
I’m not sure on grants, Brinna. We saved up for a bit – tax returns, sold stuff we didn’t need, etc. That allowed us to buy the bus and make initial changes to it, but we did have to stop for a bit and save up more money. My friend, Andrew, actually built a tiny house and had corporate sponsors help pay for it. He wrote a book about it that you may be interested in checking out. http://tinyrevolution.us/store/tiny-rev-products/