woman in white t shirt lying on brown cardboard box

Minimalism- How to Downsize Your Home

We are currently in the process of moving from a three bedroom, three bathroom house. We have a full basement and a two car garage. We are moving into a fifth wheel RV for the next year. It’s 42 ft. long about 328 square feet. Yikes! Right? It’s been crazy hectic and overwhelming. But, we are working our way through piles and piles of stuff.

This is what we’re doing to get rid of things:

Facebook Marketplace– Big items are slowly leaving one by one on Facebook Marketplace. I set it up so that people have to pick up items at my house-the less running on my part, the better. Look out for people that ask for your phone number or want you to give them “a google verification code.” It’s a scam. But overall, this has been a great way to purge items. Nearly everything I’ve posted has sold. Another tip with this is to make a good description. Answer any questions anyone might have about the item and you’ll have less messaging back and forth with tire kickers.

Online Yard Sales– These are local Facebook Groups where you can list items. I’m actually getting a lot of response from this. I can “list in more places” as an option to do this from Marketplace. Then, instead of the item being listed in one place, I can list it on twelve pages with just a couple extra clicks. I don’t have to retype all the descriptions or upload more photos. It just essentially copies and pastes to the other pages.

Physical Yard Sale– Smaller items like clothing, gadgets, small appliances, etc. are going in this option. We advertised for our physical yard sale on the online yard sale pages. But, you could also place a small ad in your local paper. Try to schedule pick up times for online items during the yard sale. The person may pick up another item while they’re there.

Giving things to friends and family-My aunt mentioned she needed a new sauce pan. So, I gifted her a whole set. My brother got a lot of garden supplies. My daughter took a box of toys to a girl scout meeting and the box was empty when we left. My mom was given some decorations. She has a talent for making flower arrangements out of all kinds of non-traditional items. So, she took a variety of items for that.

Donating to charities– My stockpile of arts and crafts items was donated to a 4H summer camp. My kids have gone to this camp in the past and I’ve helped with it as well. So, I had a good idea of what they would need. Books went to the library. They were thrilled. My church sponsors a charity that gives away clothing. So, we bagged up all the leftover clothes that didn’t sell at the yard sale (some with tags still attached) and dropped them off. We did the same with shoes that were barely worn. Camping equipment will go to my daughter’s girl scout troop. There’s a local “buy nothing” Facebook group. The senior center, animal shelter, and homeless shelter will probably be hearing from us too.

Storage Unit– This is our option for items that are family heirlooms, sentimental items like my wedding gown, and a limited amount of furniture that we really really love. We can’t go out and buy these things again when we get home. We can’t bear to part with them. So, we are storing a minimal amount of belongings. We’ll use these items to start our new life when we return home.

All these practical tips are useful for clearing the clutter. But, what people don’t always talk about is how hard downsizing is emotionally. It’s time consuming, draining, and overwhelming at times. So, if you are retiring or moving or leaving for college and need to par down your belongings, let me take a moment to say- your feelings about this are probably going to rollercoaster. Most items have a memory attached to them. Dealing with all these memories- good and bad- over and over is daunting. You are probably going to want to give up… A LOT. In these moments, walk away have a cup of coffee (and a good cry if you have to) and then come back to it. In the end, downsizing is good for the soul. It helps you take a good hard look at what you prioritize in life. It helps you zero in on the important stuff and let go of the extra. It is hard. But, like so many hard things in life, it’s totally worth the effort.

Finally, we’re obviously keeping some things too.

Necessities: First, I’m focusing on what we truly need. Cookware, dishes, towels, clothing. But, I am slimming these items down. I don’t need all six of my casserole dishes. One or two is enough. I’m really paying attention to what items I’m regularly using and planning accordingly. I have a Quick Pot and a slow cooker. The Quick Pot has a slow cooker setting. So, the slow cooker is destined for the yard sale pile. We don’t need 5 sets of sheets for every bed. Two is sufficient. Then, we have a set on the beds while the dirty set is in the laundry. Two-three towels per person plus 1 beach towel should work out. I’m not taking a lot of “just in case” items. If it’s something we decide later we really need, I’ll make a Target run.

The Kid’s stuff: My kids each have a designated amount of space for their belongings. I simply told them, “This is your space. You can keep whatever fits reasonably in the space.” The rest needs to be purged or stored. I’ve purchased storage bins and various containers for them to organize their stuff into. They are twelve years old and understand the difference between wants and needs. They have been given a tape measure and a notebook to plan out how they want to do things. They are old enough to decide what things are important to them and what is not. They are also at the age where they are naturally moving away from toys and starting to be more interested in more grown up hobbies. My son’s priority is electronics. So, he’s using most of his space to set up a desk with a gaming laptop. He doesn’t want to hang his clothes. So, he’s opted for fabric cubes to fold and store his clothes in. My daughter, on the other hand. isn’t really interested in screens. She has lots of art supplies, camera equipment, and makeup to organize. She prefers plastic chests of drawers to store items in. She’s not ready to let go of all her “little kid” stuff just yet. So, she’ll be taking some stuffed animals, dolls, etc. as well. She’s claimed the closet as hers and plans to hang all clothing except underclothes.

Garage items: We are definitely outdoorsy people. We have a lot of outdoor equipment. We tent camp, hunt, fish, hike, and bike. With these hobbies, comes a lot of stuff. We’re just basically paring down belongings as much as possible to still enjoy our free time. Luckily, the camping my daughter and I do is backpacking. So, the goal with backpacking is to be as minimalist as possible to reduce weight in your pack. We’ve gotten pretty good at choosing only the necessities to carry along. A luxury item for us on an overnight is a deck of cards and a chocolate bar. So, we’re pretty well pared down already when it comes to camping gear. The bikes will travel on a rack connected the front of the truck. We’re taking a basketball and a football. We’re switching to telescopic fishing rods and just changing out reels as needed. Also, we’re going to be in warmer locations. So, the bulky winter hunting clothes will be stored. My daughter’s hoverboard and son’s skateboard are important to them. So, we’ll make room.

Art Supplies: I had to get really honest with myself about what projects I was realistically going to finish (and let’s be honest, which ones I would ever get around to starting.) I like lots of different kinds of projects. Sewing felt, loom knitting, embroidery, painting, drawing, quilting, decoupage, calligraphy, models- I just love arts and crafts. I don’t know if I can justify the amount of space my sewing machine takes up for how often I use it. So, that will go into storage. The embroidery supplies can all fit in a small container and I know I’ll actually use them. So, they are coming. I thought I’d take the calligraphy pens until I realized it’s been so long since I used them, that they are all dried up. We’re traveling to mostly warm locations so, I’m saying goodbye to knitting hats. But, I am keeping a little loom for knitting baby booties because I love that and the weather won’t matter. Like I mentioned, I’m donating craft items to a charity I love; 4H camp. You could also donate to a senior center, a library, or a local public school art class.

This is just an overview of how to begin the process. I’ve made it sound concise. But, in reality- downsizing is hard. It can be a very emotional experience, especially when you start going through photos and other sentimental items. Give yourself breaks and then come back to it and do a little each day. Also, don’t buy more things during this time if you can help it! You don’t want more items flooding in when you are diligently trickling items out- you’ll set yourself up for failure. Don’t give in and quit though. Clearing out can be very cathartic and a rewarding experience when you stick with it.

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