Downsized at last!
July 5, 2016 § Leave a comment
Like many other Gen-Xers, we followed the traditional path of the American Dream and purchased a few homes — each larger and more updated than the last — over the past couple decades. During that time, we enjoyed having space for our kids to play, to have sleepovers with their friends, and to host birthday and holiday parties. It was fun playing “adult” during those years.
We noticed as the kids got older, and our family time more often involved shared adventures than playing at home, that our home and our belongings had begun to feel like a burden. Since our youngest daughter has now graduated and both girls are working away for the Summer and living away in the Fall, the time and opportunity finally presented itself to downsize our living space. We’re almost complete with the move-in to our new two-bedroom apartment, and have already begun to enjoy some of the benefits:
Cleaning — I don’t know if it’s the fact that I have no kids at home anymore or that my space is smaller, but cleaning as you go seems so much easier. Since my living/dining/kitchen/office is all one space, it takes no more than five minutes from start to finish to sweep or mop my floor. Because my laundry “room” is now a closet in this same open space, I can swish and swipe with my daily dish towel and toss it into the laundry. My closet is in my bathroom and my laundry bags are next to the closet door so clothes go immediately into the bag.
Decluttering — I’ve been decluttering for years now, but it’s always been so overwhelming because our house was large with several closets and a two-car garage and it felt like as soon as I would clean out one drawer, the other parts of the house would get worse. With a smaller, manageable living space, I’ve already removed another three bags of donation (even though we only brought half of our belongings from the big house).
Enough — My theme for this year has been about enough-ness … defining a virtual “limit” of what would be enough and then working to reduce what I have to that limit. I had already done that with my clothes and my shoes and personal toiletries but I was struggling with all the other multiples in my life. (Multiple cleaning supplies, multiple nail clippers, multiple tool boxes, etc.) In the process of downsizing, it has been so much easier to reduce the multiples into a single “home” in our apartment. Rather than viewing the limited space in our new home as a restriction, I embrace the physical enforcement of my own chosen limits.
No Guilt — It’s amazing how much underlying guilt and responsibility there is with a house. I don’t think we even realized how much until we moved. (And because we didn’t grow up with homeowner parents, our own knowledge of home maintenance has always been limited. Are we supposed to be re-sealing our sidewalks? When are the gutters supposed to be cleaned? Do we have to hire people to do these things?!) Now, short of walking our dog, if we want to do nothing all weekend except watch movies or play video games, there’s no thought about what we should be doing.
I realize that apartment living is not for everyone. I have many friends who genuinely enjoy working on their lawn and garden or who love to cook and entertain or who really enjoy their DIY projects. And we may find a reason to live in a house again in a future phase of our lives. For this phase — the early empty-nester phase — we’re looking forward to traveling and happy hour and our apartment seems to suit us just fine.
How about you? Have you changed your living situation to suit different phases of your life?