This post was originally written in May of 2015. It’s struck quite a chord with so many people since then, so I share it here for you.
If you haven’t read on here or on Instagram, we are getting ready to move. In the 18 years since we met, my husband and I have relocated 6 times for his career. SIX?!? It’s true. While most people would faint at the thought of this, we revel in it. The opportunities afforded to us via these moves have been incomparable, and we’ve truly enjoyed the journey.
As we ready ourselves to embark on yet another relocation, we find ourselves reevaluating our situation, our needs, our wishes, our future goals and the needs of our children. It’s a truly eye opening experience to sit down and take stock of what you have versus what you NEED and wrap that all together with what you WANT. I thought I would take a little time today to talk about our process and the conclusions we’ve come to throughout the past few months.
Currently, we live in a 2500 square foot victorian house. It has 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, 3 living rooms a dining room, enormous kitchen, pool, patio, wraparound front porch and it’s in a quaint little riverside victorian town. We love it. We love that there are always people walking their dogs, riding bikes, kids playing, neighbors laughing, and in the month of July it’s a constant fireworks party. The town is what we love so much – that experience.
Our home is beautiful – it’s renovated, it’s functional and it has everything we want in a home. Almost everyone we know would stop there and just be thrilled. Never pushing the limits of their existence. Alas, that is not us. We are always looking at our lives from a new perspective. If we actually take stock, this house is too big, has too many rooms, takes too long to clean, has a lot of upkeep because of its age and size, and will need even more repairs in the coming years (can you say $75K in wood siding, anyone?) It’s a hard thing to sit back and turn a critical eye onto something you love so dearly and have worked so hard to perfect. But it’s a necessary step to living a simpler life that is larger
Most people would never think to downsize with two kids who are almost teenagers. They assume that children need space, a yard, huge bedrooms, big closets, lots of toys and money and things. We think differently. Our children need US. They need attention. They need love. They need time playing tennis and studying and reading books and laughing with their friends. They need to grow and be supported and have all of their questions answered over dinner. They need to volunteer and learn empathy. They need compassion and a shoulder through the rough times. They need a home cooked meal and a long hug before bed. None of these things is the result of a house, but the result of US. Our actions, our intentions, our love – that is what raises amazing people. This is our priority.
We have come to realize in these past months of prayer and evaluation and more prayer that what we need is our family. And in finding that truth, we realized that we do not WANT the house that is too big, too maintenance ridden, too hard to clean, too much. The rest of the world assumes that because we have great jobs and make good money that we would purchase a home worthy of our salaries, and I’m here to tell you that we will be purchasing a home worthy of our hearts.
Please do not assume that I’m criticizing or judging anyone who chooses the McMansion with the oodles of space and soaring ceilings. I am so not that person – I would never in a million years criticize. I love those homes, find them to be beautiful and awe inspiring, and yet I could never bring myself to live in one. Let me explain why.
We have had 6 homes now. Each of our 6 homes was very different. One cape cod, one modern, one McMansion, one split level… etc. We’ve lived in almost every type of home. In looking at all of the homes we’ve lived in, I can tell you the one that I loved the most was the smallest. The one that I hated the most was the biggest. Why? In that big house with the high ceilings and giant rooms, I worked all the time. Floors, dusting, windows, dusting, bathrooms, dusting, yardwork, dusting, kitchen, dusting – it was an endless stream of cleaning and upkeep. To have a truly clean and beautiful home, you have to maintain it. Maintenance on a giant house means less time with your family. I often found myself saying to my children, “mommy can’t play right now because I have to clean.” or “we can’t go to the park until later because I have to help daddy with the yard work.” I hated that. I hated putting them off of being children because I chose a lifestyle that was too high maintenance.
Which brings me to our current home. It’s too big. At 2500 square feet, it’s about 1000 square feet too big. We sat down as a family the other day and made a list of the spaces we use in this house. Then we got out our tape measures and measured them. It came to a whopping 1200 square feet of space that we used. There are rooms that we never go into – I only enter them to dust before company arrives. Why am I paying to heat spaces we literally never use? Why do I waste my time on furnishings and cleaning spaces that sit stagnant. It’s wasteful and it frustrates me to no end.
So, the bottom line is downsizing. We are downsizing to increase the meaning of our lives. We are downsizing to spend more time with our kids and less time on housework. We are paring down our belongings to truly appreciate the things we do have, and to teach our kids that life isn’t about the THINGS you have, but about the relationships you nurture.
Some will criticize us and even take to calling us lazy because we don’t want to maintain the big house. One person even went as far as to suggest we are bad parents because we can afford a huge house but are opting not to give that to our children. And that’s ok. Everyone makes choices. We are making the choices that are right for our family – and we’re putting our family before all of the things. At the end of my life, I can’t imagine regretting a moment spent with my kids, but I can promise you I will regret those moments I didn’t spend with them because of a house and it’s neediness.
I accept and admire that every human on this Earth has a unique path. They have unique feelings and wishes and dreams. I love that! I adore that at the age of 38, I’m finally able to see past the dreams of other people and hone in on my own, and I know that I am so lucky God gave me a partner who has the same dreams. We are so fortunate.
As hard as it is, I would encourage you to dig deep today and evaluate your life. Is it what you want? Does it satisfy your soul? Dig deep, my friends and find the holes – patch them up. If there’s something in your life that causes you constant stress, evaluate it and change it. You have the power to draw a life you want to live. Take the pencil and create your dream life. It’s never too late.
Tell me in the comments below how you’re changing your life to be more focused on the things you love. Are you minimizing? Decluttering? Moving? New Job? What steps are you taking to grab the life you deserve?