Downsizing, Minimalism and Toddlerhood

IMG_2309We’re moving.

And we’re downsizing.

And we’re doing all of this with a very energetic two and a half year old toddler.

There. There it is. There’s no sugarcoating it, there’s no getting around it, there’s no denying it. We’re downsizing. And we might be crazy, but I’m excited. So so very excited!

 

My husband and I have lived in three different places together, in three different cities. We’ve enjoyed the flexibility that renting has to offer, and until now haven’t felt prepared to buy a home. We are currently renting a 1,600 sq foot house with three bedrooms, a finished basement, attached two car garage and a ton of storage.

But now, the time has come for us to buy a house. We spent months house shopping and talking to real estate agents, home inspectors, lenders, friends and family. After considering multiple factors such as work commute, school district, financial planning, and timing it looks like we found our first home: An adorable two-bedroom condo.

Much, much smaller than our current house.

This was not what we pictured when we thought of our eventual first home, but we’re actually ok with that. The idea of prioritizing our possessions is freeing, and the list-making-task-master in my head is thrilled at the chance to organize and decorate a home of my very own. Home-ownership seems like this great right of passage we’re excited to finally tackle.

The logistics 

Right now we live in a small suburb with great access to the highway, making both my husband’s and my commute very easy. When house shopping we kept our geographic location pretty narrowed down. In the end, we decided to move to a slightly larger city that’s just outside of our suburb, with similar highway access.

Still, this move will mean a lot of changes for our everyday life. Lots of our current neighborhood is walkable, and for having such a big house we spend very little time in it during the spring, summer and fall seasons. Right now we can walk to a grocery store, library, playground, farmer’s market, pizza place and a small diner. In this new city things are way less walkable. The new house is still within a mile of a library, a playground and multiple restaurants. But everything is spread father out and juxtaposed by very busy and heavily trafficked streets, making me – as a mother of a fast-moving toddler – very nervous.

The toddler 

B probably doesn’t remember the apartment we brought him home to (even though I’ll never forget it), and we moved in to this house just before he started to walk. So for the majority of his roaming toddlerhood he has had plenty of room. This house’s large, open floor plan allowed for plenty of running around and we were even able to bring his Little Tikes Cozy Coupe inside and let him ride it around without worrying about space or anyone’s toes getting smashed. He also currently has a bedroom and a playroom, the majority of his possessions residing in the latter.

I have no doubt that B will adapt to the new space, but I would be lying if I said my heart didn’t break a little when I think about losing his huge playroom with it’s well-organized areas for his train table, easel, and kitchen. His ride-on toys will have to become outside-only, which is going to disappoint everyone. My biggest hope for the new home is that we can find a way to give him easy access to his toys that doesn’t involve us tripping over them (or him).

The goals 

Minimize possessions. When faced with the massive space this house had to offer we began “collecting” things we didn’t really need. I can’t, however, tell you how what things for sure because most of it is probably “in storage” in our basement. Purging unnecessary stuff will be key here. And that doesn’t just go for the adults. Like many other parents, I’m sure, my husband and I have held on to/acquired lots of stuff for our little man. We have a hard time saying “no” to the well-meaning family members who give him things, and we have an equally hard time throwing things away. This is a problem that will have to be solved. We’re not going for full-on minimalism here, but a general “don’t buy what we don’t need” and “get rid of things we don’t/won’t use” theme needs to be follow if we’re going to successfully fit in our new house.

Maximize space, stay organized. I have a confession to make. My husband and I are not tidy people. We’re not dirty by any stretch, and there are never food messes or dirty clothes lying around for days. But we maybe sometimes leave mail scattered everywhere. And sometimes maybe all the time we end up with our books/CDs/movies/board games/work papers/other random clutter scatter through the house. This is just not an option in the new house. I’ve been scouring Pinterest all week, getting organization ideas for everything from our kitchen to our closets. We can build in shelves, label things more clearly and create organized spaces for things to go when we aren’t using them. No matter what we do, we have to do better. There really isn’t another option in that small of a space.

Get mobile. We need a way to get out. The playground and library near the new house are excellent, but far less accessible than the ones by our current house. I’m thinking this new neighborhood is going to mean biking instead of walking. It just seems like a safer, more manageable travel alternative with a toddler. My husband and I both already have bikes, so we just need to decide on a bike seat for B and possibly a basket or some other grocery carrier.

I mean it when I say we’re excited about this move. No one likes to downsize, and my husband in particular rolls his eyes every time I mention minimalism, but we can do this. We’re not what you would call “do-it-yourselfers” but we do have some remodeling planned for the condo before we move in, and we’re both bouncing with glee at the life we can breath in to this home. I can’t wait to get started and I can’t believe we’re going to be homeowners. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go fill out a mountain of paperwork and sign my life away.

 

 

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