Monday, December 1, 2014

Year 3: Livin' Large in Our Tiny Abode

I have to say that after three years of this lifestyle, heading into four, through all the cramped conditions, added in people, added in pets, added in junk, through everything that we left and perceived that we had lost, for all we rethought or replaced, I still like my tiny lifestyle.  I prefer it.  I cherish it.  I love it.  I might someday go larger-ER, but I'll forever live small.

Living small and close causes you to rethink almost everything in your life.  What's important in life becomes clearer, and what isn't does, too.  Living this way reveals things others might go a lifetime and miss out on.

Relationships develop differently than they would otherwise. They have to.  You change.  They change.  The important and unimportant relationship issues become clear.  The simple proximity issues have shined a light on us that has revealed wonderful, beautiful things.  These people we live with are amazing and intelligent and important and essential.  It's easy to think your own view of reality is the right one, the logical or practical, best one, but in a situation like this, if you truly purpose in your heart to make it work, you will begin to see life as a unit, not as an individual only.  You will learn that your small child with his keen mind is able to contribute, and even though he may not articulate it as clearly as you or your spouse or an older child, he is amazingly insightful and his blossoming life is happening right before your eyes! Gratefully, amazingly, you are there to see it.

It's that way with each person in the family.  All of your relationships become distinct even as they meld. It's very hard to explain how we can become such a unit and yet grow more defined as individuals.  I'm sure other people already understand some of these things, but this experience has caused me to know and appreciate who my family members are.  We were always close, I think. Now we are closer.  I appreciate them so very much.

Another thing that will change right away and forever is how you are with belongings: stuff.  It becomes a front burner issue immediately and requires some serious soul searching.  If you plan to live small you have to do two things right off:

1.) You will have to part with many, likely most of your possessions, even some you cherish.  You should seriously work on this ahead of time.  It's hard.  With some items, you might try putting them in storage and living without them for a while before you decide what to do with them, as sort of a trial run.  There are many things still in my storage that I thought I couldn't part with, but now I will be getting rid of many of them.  I just wasn't sure if I could do it.  There are a few things I'll keep forever: my baby's first outfits and blankets, my wedding memorabilia, my "good china."  There are probably things that I don't even remember being in storage that I'll see and be thrilled to still have, and those I'll keep, but I doubt there's much left in storage that we'll save aside from tools and the like.  We've made it this long without it.  I'm glad I stored it, though, because now I know that I can live without them and I won't suffer regret at the loss of something that I'd wished I'd kept.

2.)  You will have to break yourself of buying things on a whim, and you'll be surprised to learn what a whim actually is.  All purchases require space in your home.  A cute canister set (rationalized as practical) will take up maybe 1/3 of your available counter space.  If that's a trade off that's OK with your family (yes, you have to consider EVERYONE now) then, by all means, buy it.  Be sure.  Think it through.  It only takes a minute.  You will learn what you need.  Trust me.  The hollow sensation of lack from leaving things unbought is quickly outweighed by the wonderful lack of buyers remorse and the money saved from a few extra seconds, literally, of simple thought.

We are so conditioned in our lifestyles to buy whatever we think we need within (or, sadly, NOT within) our budgets, simply because clever marketeers have convinced us we should.  We need it, we deserve it, etc...  I have learned to tune out ads and to comfortably walk right past things in the store without a second glance.  It's very liberating!

Eventually we will be on our property and we'll have a shed.  I'll have shelves in the shed for items I use, but just not every day.  For instance, I have quite a lot of cast iron cookware that I won't be parted from, but it is heavy and takes up a lot of space in a small home.  I'll keep it safely in my shed

There are a few more things you will have to change, as well.  You'll probably have to change some of your personal habits, because things get messy quickly. All I can say is, "Clean as you go.  Clean as you go.  Clean as you go.  Clean as you go."  Make yourself a schedule to rotate and re-organize every week or two at least.  Some things, such as pantries and shared closets and the like, will get shoved and pushed and crammed and you'll have to straighten them out every other time you get in it.  Teach it to your kids.  PRAY that your spouse will learn and help on that one.  It's constant and essential for keeping things livable.

Holidays and birthdays and the hiding of the presents is a MAJOR issue around here.  I shop early so that I have time to think about things and spend a little here and there instead of madly rushing last minute to try to find something suitable.  Internet shopping has been a real blessing for me because they can drop it at the recipient's house! Sometimes, however, I have to stash things here and keep them stashed for a period of time, and I can tell you, I've done some shuffling, reshuffling and micro-shuffling in order to make things fit.  In the process, other things get maneuvered out of their place and things begin to look a fright very soon.

You MUST have a place for everything and keep everything in it's place. Seriously, though, can't we all do with a bit more organization?  These are great lifetime habits to teach your kids, and "Old Dogs" really can learn new tricks.  Win/win.  I wish I had a wise word or a handier solution than that to share with you, but I do not.  I'm at a loss.  I suppose I'll have to thin out more things.  :)

I've also noticed that things get dirty quickly, so cleaning habits will probably change.  Maybe things only seem to get dirty faster in a small home, or perhaps it's just an RV because of the way it's made, I don't really know, but the crud will just stand up and wave at you if you don't dust and vacuum pretty regularly.  You have to treat it like any other home or else you will begin to view it as temporary, a lesser lifestyle, not "normal" and it would, doubtless, lead to failure.  Keep up on the cleaning.

Thankfully it's much faster to clean a small house. I can give it a once over, top to bottom in just an hour or so.  A really "good" cleaning can be done in an afternoon.

Also, things get lost more easily, somehow, in a small place.  Even though there's less space to lose them in, things seem harder to find, too.  I can't explain it.  It just happens.  I'm pretty sure this is a phenomenon that can only be explained by quantum physics.  You MUST have a place for everything and keep everything in it's place.  It's the best rule.

If you're planning on living small, whatever your reason or arrangements, my advice remains the same as always:  Don't discuss it with everyone you know.  People don't understand and have been taught contrary to what you have decided is the right thing to do.  They will discourage you, ridicule you, cut you out of their lives, and for what?  So you'd have your exciting moment where you told them your glorious plans?  There are only a few who care, for starters, and then there are only a handful of them who will understand.  There are only a precious few who support you while you make your changes and adjustments.  As for the rest of them, when you're celebrating your 3 year anniversary, if they give you a thought at all they'll be thinking, "Oh, you remember ol' crazy So-and-so?  They made it after all."  That's good enough.


Anonymous said...

I thought about buying an rv...I dont seriously think I could do it. Being confined to such a small area, not being able to run away from the family...I don't know...the home I am in now somedays feel too small...lack of hiding miss ya

Representative said...

I miss you, too. Coffee?