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Mindful Downsizing

My partner and I bought our first house in Vancouver in 2014. It was the cutest little ranch house downtown and we loved it. We ripped out wallpaper together, put in a chicken coop, and got our feet wet at our first official (non-apartment) homestead.

Fast forward to 2018 and I was grieving the loss of my mom who had passed just 8 months prior, massively 6 months pregnant, preparing to welcome little Lark into the world, and frantically looking for a new home. The home we found would require no work on the inside and had a blank slate, terribly neglected yard. For the next few years we would find ourselves building (another) chicken coop, feeding the soil, adding planter bed after planter bed and watching Lark toddle through all of it.

Today, with a kiddo in preschool and Kindred as my full-time gig, we’ve decided we’re ready to downsize and move closer to the downtown community that has become such an incredible part of our lives. Don’t get me wrong, I love the homestead we built. And I hope that the new owners take it and begin their journey to homesteading. Heck, maybe they’ll even come into the shop someday.

So now comes the real challenge - what do we do with all this stuff?!

Don’t worry, friends. I’m not about to regurgitate Marie Kondo’s wisdom of asking if these items bring you joy, or tout that minimalism is the key… I mean, some of these practices came to mind for me as I was going through my stuff but that’s not the focus here. What I really want to share with you is how you responsibly rid yourself of excess without dumping it on some unknown charity or chucking it all in the trash.

The first thing I want to say is, throwing things away is OK. As someone who is always trying to live as low-waste as possible, sometimes you just have to let go of the idea that someday you’re going to figure out what that mystery key is for, or you’re definitely going to find the container that that lid goes to… You’re likely not. If it makes you feel better, chuck all those things in a box. You’re going to have to pack it all so if there was a time you’d find it, it’s now.

Thinning

The first thing I did was go through every room and pick out the things I definitely didn’t want. Any artwork that I didn’t really love, clothes that didn’t fit, furniture that wasn’t going to fit, etc. Remember, we’re downsizing so we’re not going to have two “living room” spaces or a plethora of closets anymore.

Where does it all go?

For me a lot of this was timed perfectly around our clothing swap so getting rid of the clothes was pretty easy. As for everything else - all hail the Buy Nothing Group. Now I know a lot of you aren’t on Facebook and I don’t blame you. But did you know that Buy Nothing has an app?!

In addition, I am one of the few who is still on Facebook (boo, hiss…). Despite it’s issues, I love the groups I have found on there. I reached out to fellow homesteaders, gardeners and zero-wasters to help find good homes for all my excess plants, clothes, toys, etc.

Additionally, you could post items on Nextdoor, Offerup or Craigslist. When you’re posting for free (or a bargain), it’s not hard to get rid of stuff.

Now I had a lot of little things and I didn’t want to post every single one on these apps so instead, I made a free table. I was able to get rid of just about everything! Art supplies, gardening supplies, tons of books, games, extra sheets, etc. There are so many people in need, y’all. Don’t underestimate the value of a free table.

What about kid stuff?

This is tough. Having kids puts you in a season of plenty. We want them to have lots to play with, to learn with. Our friends and family want to give them presents. We want to get them that stuffy because we just need them to be quiet for 5 freaking minutes so we can get through the store… I’m not going to pretend like I didn’t sneak out a toy or two because I totally did. But for the most part, I asked Lark to be a part of our decision making. We talked about being in a smaller space and what that meant for her toys. We talked about what it would mean that we got to move to a new house, have friends closer to us, be next to the library that we love so much, and that meant that some items had to be passed on to other kids. She mostly got it. And honestly, we’ll probably accumulate more in the next house - because that’s just part of it - but at least we’re practicing having these conversations now. 


Moving Forward

We’re in the process of closing on our new home and I can’t wait to share it with you. I don’t think a smaller home is going to solve all of the “messy home” issues we’ve dealt with - no way! What I do know is that we’ll be able to live more into our values there and that matters.

That said, I’ve definitely been giving some thought to how we’ll organize our new space in a way that’s way more functional - both because it has to be due to size but also because I’m always trying to figure out better systems for, well everything.

I’ve recently been following KC Davis and her podcast, Struggle Care. I absolutely LOVE her approach to creating homes that serve us, and not living to serve our home. Developing systems that work for us day-to-day and understanding that how tidy our home is (or isn’t) is morally neutral.

On a recent podcast she did with Alison Lush, Alison had some really practical approaches on how to get started organizing - and if in some cases it’s even necessary. Again, we have to make sure we’re creating an environment for us - not based on what Instagram and Pinterest tell us our home “should” look like.

I’m definitely putting lots of what I’ve learned from these two amazing folks into practice as we pack up, and unpack into the new space.

That’s it friends. By the time this is published I’ll be moving in just over a week - aaahhh!

What did I miss? Are there other resources you’d recommend for folks downsizing?

Next article Drying & Storing Garden Herbs

Comments

Missy Fant - October 24, 2022

So happy for you!

I’m in the stage of being buried from stuff but fighting my teenager in order to get rid of it

L Miles - October 23, 2022

What an exciting time for you and your family. Thank you for sharing!

I’d add having a large bag or box as a half-way-out space in the house. Place household items you think you and your family might be able to live without. Wait a month (or more) and make a plan to re-home these things. If you feel that you’re missing it, take the item back out before sending it off.

Jo Candelore - October 22, 2022

THIS! Perfect timing. Thank you!

Annie hall - October 21, 2022

Reading Mindful Downsizing was just what I needed to read in this phase in my life. I’m moving to a much smaller place in a few short months and have begun the fun process of Downsizing. I love the idea of the free table. Good luck in your new home.

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