Five years ago, I took a wrong turn and ended up out on the edge of town among the rolling hills and beautiful scenery that leads the way to the Texas Hill Country. I pulled into a neighborhood to turn around and had an overwhelming feeling that I would live there some day. My husband and I had been married for four years and were still happily enjoying apartment living while we worked on building up our savings, but something about that neighborhood called out to me and told me that it was our new home.
The quiet streets with estate homes on large lots with mature trees were exactly the kind of place where I wanted to start a family. Six months later, we were pregnant and building our first home.
Our house has been so good to us. We’ve brought two babies home through these doors and celebrated many, many birthdays and holidays with friends and family from near and far. Our chef’s kitchen inspired me to cook which in turn inspired my passion for real food. Our backyard inspired us to plant something which grew into a passion for organic gardening. There’s been so many happy times, hard times and delightfully mundane days here.
Around the time we moved in to our new house, while I was still pregnant with our first child, I began reading Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids. Reading that book was the start of my journey to living more simply. From toys to books to meals to screen time to family schedules, my goal was to recreate the magic of childhood that we seem to have lost during the last generation or so.
Once I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, my vision and goals for my family became clearer and as I decluttered physical things from my life, I was able to embrace more of the intangibles our family was missing. My husband and I were enjoying long talks into the wee hours of the night and playing board games like we did before we were married. I was able to start playing with my kids instead of just going through my daily routine of chores and cooking while they played. We started doing things as a family like going to the park just because or enjoying evenings in our garden together. Life felt good.
Marie Kondo talks about the click point in “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” – the point when your decluttering is done, when you get that feeling of satisfaction in knowing that everything in your life brings you joy. Despite an epic garage sale and selling so much stuff my children were worried they would be next, I haven’t felt the click point yet. It took me about four months to finish my KonMari festival, yet I still instinctively tell people that I am not quite done, because my house does not feel finished. As I have been waiting to feel the click point, I realized I have one major obstacle standing in my way.
It feels a bit hypocritical to be a self-proclaimed minimalist and believer in simplicity at home while living in a large, beautiful home with two extra guest rooms, a formal dining room used a few times a year, a bathroom bigger than some people’s bedrooms and a garden that could feed a neighborhood with plenty of room to grow. Every time I vacuum the vacant guest rooms or dust the cobwebs from the corners of the 11-feet ceilings or clean a toilet that nobody uses, I resent this house. I resent that in maintaining this beautiful home, I am missing out on what really matters.
It’s not really the size of the house or the layout of the house or the mortgage payment that’s at issue here…it’s more than that. My husband, the nerd of our duo, has poured over financial spreadsheets to make sure this is a smart money move. If we stayed in our current house, we’d actually have it paid off in less than seven years, which makes it a huge asset.
We’ll enjoy having more money in our bank account each week right now, but for the long-term, this move won’t do much for us. But as Suze Orman always says: People first, then money, then things. That’s right, people first. Just as we’re constantly fighting the battle of electronic distractions in our home, our house is proving to be a major distraction from our priorities.
I quit my job to stay home with my children, and I am so thankful for this opportunity every single day. I want to homeschool them for as long as it works for us and continue to cook nutritious, real food for my family. I want to spend time together as a family in the evenings and on weekends playing games and laughing together. I want to serve our community and help others with our time and money.
While all of these things are certainly possible right now, it’s a challenge when there are so many other things in life pulling us in different directions. My husband and I need to work on a family mission statement to put our goals and priorities on paper. I love what The Art of Simple says about having a stated family purpose: “No one can do it all, so it’s essential to start by finding out what you should do, and which things are okay to ignore.” That’s the key to living a simple life. That’s when I’ll feel the click.
Our current home will be on the market within two weeks and we’ve found a site for our new home less than 10 minutes away. We’re downsizing by about 40 percent and building a new, 1700-sq. ft. home without the fancy upgrades on a tiny lot. We’re giving up space for guests, the huge yard, all of our storage space, my gorgeous kitchen and much more. But I feel like what we are losing in tangible space, we are gaining back tenfold in joy and lifted spirits with the promise of a more simple life. We may be saying goodbye to our dream home, but we’re holding on tighter than ever to our hopes and dreams.
The next few weeks and months will be hectic and exciting as we try to sell our house and may have to transition into temporary housing while our new home is completed. We have a lot of work to do in downsizing our belongings to fit in a much smaller home. With every piece of furniture or decor that leaves our house, I am feeling lighter and lighter. It is in letting go of things that I am finding my true joy. Marie Kondo says, “The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” I couldn’t agree more.