Are you kidding me? There is no way this is ever going to be possible. This was the only thought constantly going through my head while trying to pack up our 3000 square foot home. How in the hell was I ever going to be able to downsize our entire home to fit into a 365 square foot RV?
A storage unit would with out a doubt be used for items that couldn’t come with us for obvious reasons; couches, dressers, tables, lamps, our brand-new-never-opened wedding china, etc. But what about everything else?
Downsizing the number our material possessions was not one of the topics of discussion when we decided to embark on this gypsy adventure. Sure, J.O. had been traveling full time in the RV for 2 years, living on the minimum, but he still always came home to a closet full of other clothes, countless cooking utensils, various outdoor tools. He only had to have the essentials because he could come back to a fully furnished house. Now, we are both going to be sleeping in a room that was the same size as old closet. This was going to be a challenge.
It was scary and I’ll admit, hard at first. I even had, if I dare to call it, packing remorse. ‘Why or why did I not pack that white tee-shirt with the small pocket?! I don’t want to wear THIS white tee-shirt that has no pocket at all! I used to have both…sigh, but I couldn’t pack both because we had to downsize.’ Yes, I would find myself getting upset that I didn’t have multiples of basically the same thing. Ridiculous, really.
I knew that this whole “downsizing” thing was a necessity. Not only for our living situation, but for my overall attitude. I was very blessed growing up. I was given many luxuries and advantages and although I always thought I was NOT high maintenance, I obviously needed some work. I mean come on, I was upset because I couldn’t take my all of my serving dishes on the road (did I actually think we would be throwing huge parties out of our RV?). I was going to work on my attitude, outlook and get rid of the clutter.
Need vs Want. Prioritize. Reuse. One item in, one item out
When we started to pack, the piles for each room were basically separated into a “need” and a “want” pile. As you can imagine, at first the ‘Need’ pile was just a large as the ‘Want’. Sure, I wanted all of my vases, I love to have fresh flowers whenever I can. Alas, I couldn’t take all of them. I had to decide what to do. Which, if any to take and what to leave behind. After thinking about it and prioritizing my storage space, I didn’t pack one. Not a one! I still display the flowers that J.O. brings home for me, but now I improvise. I use what I have available to me. Whether it be a tall bar glass with shells in the bottom or a carved out pumpkin I bought at the market, I’m able to keep my possessions at more of a minimum and get creative in the end.
In the past few years J.O. and I have both become more aware of what we need and what we want: Owning more that two cheese cutters was something we had because we wanted them, but we didn’t need them both. We prioritize items that work best for our lifestyle: I loved all of my shoes (even if half of them were various styles of black sling backs) but how often did I wear each pair? We have become creative on reusing things for more than one task and when it comes to purchasing new items, if something is bought than something else is donated.
Clearing out all of the extra stuff took time and effort, but I never thought it would feel this liberating. Living without all the “stuff” has made me feel better about myself. I still love to go shopping, but now when a purchase is made, I never have remorse. It’s for the most part been thought through. We both have become more conscious consumers. More research is done before the purchase and we now buy with a purpose, knowing it’s something that won’t sit in its packaging for weeks on end. Buying for overall quality and not just because it’s a good deal is important (Buy local. Buy USA). Appreciation has also become more apparent when we are given something that was ‘wanted’ and not just ‘needed’. Plus, a major bonus is that we have more in the bank because it’s easier to stick to a budget.
The storage unit still remains full, but with each passing month that I send them a check so that the “wanted” items can continue to collect dust, I wonder more often , ‘why are we keeping so much? I’ve lived without it this long, will I need it when buy another home?’.
I encourage you to try downsizing your home, your possessions. Start with one room and go from there. Let me know what you think or any ticks you have!
Below are some suggestions on getting started.
- Remember to think about if you want it or if you need it.
- How many times have you used/worn it? If is been 6 months, donate it. Chances are it’s something you can either borrow if needed or there is another item that can be improvised for the task.
- Prioritize your space. Don’t let a drawer fill up with junk just because it’s empty. Making good use of and dedicating space for certain things will make you stick to a limited amount.
- Get rid of the clutter. Do you really need three spatulas? How many coffee mugs do you have? Keep what you use.
- Condense. We have a massive DVD collection. I mean huge. Instead of having all of them in their original cases, we have them all organized into a multi-case (and yes, I have them organized by genre).
- One item it, one item out. Simple as that. Buy one, donate one.
- When out shopping, don’t touch it. Statistics show that just by physically handling an item, you’re more likely to purchase it.
- Get creative on gift giving. J.O. and I rarely buy each other physical items anymore because of the lack of storage space. Cards and day trips or together gifts have become more our style! Buy a new serving dish for that special treat you’re bringing to a dinner party and let the host keep the dish-hostess gift checked off and you’re not storing unused multiples.
- Reuse items. Get creative! While that suitcase is sitting there waiting to go on vacation, fill it with your extra bed linens or your guest towels.
- Keep on it. J.O. and I clean out our closets every three months, whether he likes it or not Every time we weed out more and it just keeps getting easier. Then we either donate the items or reuse them. I use cut up shirts for wash rags and even made a scarf out of one!
- Find other resources to see what others do for organizing, DIY and reusing. I love reading others ideas on Pinterest, Real Simple and my good friend on Whole Parenting.