Lesson 1066 – Tiny Living in a Big House

As you know, I recently attended a weekend Tumbleweed Tiny House building workshop.

I have long been obsessed with tiny houses. Their magical sense of perfection intrigues me. I have yet to see a tiny house that does not include creativity, art, and unbridled inspiration. They are beautiful, stunning. They create freedom by only having the things you have chosen to be in them.

Although I dream of living in a tiny house (actually to be more correct, I dream of having a tiny house as a writer’s studio) I also know that I essentially made my bed when I decided to have 6 kids (I’m sure there’s a joke in there, but I’m not going to go there.) When the kids were smaller, we had the toys and all the sports equipment (x6), the coolers, the yard games, the clothes, and the school projects that all needed to be kept, much of it for the sole reason that “someday, it might come in handy.” Do you have any idea how much room 8 sleeping bags take up?

With so many kids, several jobs, writing, and community work, the last thing I wanted to do at the end of a long day was to pick up and clean the house (and besides, why sort? The next kid down the line will probably need to use it eventually.) Things piled up.

When the kids leave, I kept telling myself, that’s when I’ll finally get my house decluttered. That’s when I will love living here.

Several years ago, I did a massive decluttering project. I was writing a newspaper series and in it, I chronicled the decluttering of each room in our house (we have a large house built with many oddly shaped rooms, nooks, and crannies.) In the articles I posted before and after photos. It was pretty impressive (and yes, I got some flak from people about how “disgusting” my house was.)

After 16 months and interviewing many professional organizers, I had gone through our entire house and had removed over 5,000 pounds of stuff that we no longer needed. Books, toys, furniture that had been “gifted” to us, duplicate appliances and yes, even some wedding gifts that had sat on shelves for years were all donated to someone who would better use them.

2 tons of stuff that was living in our house for no reason. How does that even happen?

You’d think that after all that effort, our house would continue to be spic and span and completely clutter-free, right?

Nope, life continued on. Kids joined other teams, went off to college and came back home with stuff, stuff, stuff.

And here’s where I introduce myself, hi, I’m Wendy – I’m a bit of a pack rat.

Nothing gives me more pleasure than to go yard saling on Saturdays to see what treasures I can find.

I have gone on trips and brought home things just so the kids could see what I saw and share my experience (and of course, where do all these souvenirs go? On shelves collecting dust for years unable to be thrown away because “mom gave that to me.” )

Much of the fault lies with me. I like stuff. I like cool stuff and as a result, I have tons of it.

But our needs as a family are changing. With the kids coming back home from college, we are changing more from that of a daycare into that of a working village. Adults all sharing the same work and living space – we have created our own micro-community.

It’s not a bad way to live… if it weren’t for all the accumulated stuff that keeps getting in our way.

Need to sit down? You have to push a backpack over first.

Need to find the top to the Tupperware? Good luck on that one, we have a million bottoms but apparently no tops (which is why I keep buying more.)

Want to find that really good mustard- the one from Vermont that made all the difference in the world to sandwiches? You’ll have to take *everything* out of the fridge first to find it hiding in the back.

Need to find a stinkin’ pen when you need to take a note? Uuuuuuuuuggggggghhhh.

We are fortunate. We have absolutely everything that we need (and clearly quite more), but what we don’t have is a sense of peace and respite in our house along with a sense of open-spaced opportunity. We have too much, indeed too much of a good thing can be bad.

I think that’s one of the reasons why I like the tiny houses so much. Everything in each house has a place. Everything in a tiny house is something that is either useful or brings pleasure. I have a feeling that if I created open and beautiful spaces in our house where items are consciously invited to be included, instead of arbitrarily dumped, I might not have such a great need to run away to a tiny house in the woods.

The last time I went through this exercise, I decluttered and organized. This time I’ll be purging and downsizing with intent (intent-sizing?) I’ll be trying to see if we can all live tiny in a big house.

I’ll keep you posted.

No worries, the tiny flock stays.

No worries, the tiny flock stays.


Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

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