I have a friend who loves to joke that I love to do things the hard way. Maybe she’s right?
A year ago, after reading “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and completing my KonMari festival to declutter my belongings, I decided that our beautiful home was not bringing me joy. We had extra rooms that we never seemed to use and instead collected junk. We had a big yard and extensive garden that took up too much of my husband’s time to maintain. While I loved our neighborhood and the house, something about it just didn’t feel right anymore.
We sold our house and bought a nearby lot where we could build a new home that better fit our needs. I wanted a small yard where I could feel safe letting my children out to play anytime. I wanted an open floor plan where I could see and hear the kids playing from the kitchen. I wanted less wasted space to minimize clutter. I wanted a smaller garden that we could enjoy and not feel burdened with. I wanted less space so I could spend less time cleaning. I wanted a covered patio to be able to spend more time outside.
We sold more than half of our belongings as we planned to go from a 2700 square foot house to a 1700 square foot house. We spent five months living in a two-bedroom apartment with half of our remaining stuff in storage getting a feel for what a more simple life was all about.
Apartment living was a breath of fresh air. Without excess in space or things or demands on our time, the focus was on our family. We spent more time enjoying each other’s company, playing together and relaxing than we had in a long time. Apartment living felt like the life we wanted, and it was great to be able to taste that luxury before we moved into our new home.
As we settled in to our new home, it was everything we hoped it would be. The open floor plan works perfectly for our family. The small yard and smaller garden is low maintenance and feels fun to manage rather than like a chore. We spend hours on the covered patio enjoying the outdoors without feeling the heat of the summer.
Cleaning 1700 square feet feels like a breeze and can easily be done in just a couple of hours on a weekend. Maintaining a tidy KonMari home is a simple task when you have no space for extra stuff. Our downsized life was officially a good one and brought our family closer together in ways I couldn’t have imagined.
Just as we were settling in and had finished remodeling and decorating our new home, I found out I was pregnant again. We knew we would likely add another child to our family, but the timing was definitely a surprise.
Initially, adding another baby to the mix didn’t change our plans at all, but one too many sleepless nights started to get to us. Both of my children still wake up pretty regularly in the middle of the night and the thought of also having a baby in our room waking up every two hours and nowhere for my husband to get a good night’s sleep got me thinking. After a particularly rough night up with my two year old on the eve of my husband starting a new position at work, I knew we had to make a change.
I got up in the morning and texted my friend and realtor that I wanted to look at options for moving. Since we had only been in our house about four months, I initially thought that we should rent out our current house and look at renting a four bedroom house in the area. Once I talked to my husband about moving, he was pretty adamant that if we moved again, it was going to be the last time for a long time.
Our downsized life was always meant to be a stepping stone. We planned to stay in our new, smaller home for a few years while our children were young, but always dreamed of moving to a house with land as our long-term home. A few years in a smaller home would give us time to save money and think about what we really wanted in a forever home.
That plan got fast-tracked with the news of a third baby and after some house hunting, I was confident we could find a new home that would check off all the boxes on our “forever home” list. In two weeks time, we listed our house, accepted a cash offer on our house, closed on the sale of our house, house hunted day and night, made three offers on new houses and finally had an offer accepted on what we hope to be our forever home.
Our new home is larger with the fourth bedroom that we need. I still plan to have two of the kids share a room eventually, but we need the flexibility for those sleepless newborn nights so my husband can escape an get some sleep when he has a big meeting or presentation at work. It will also be so much easier to have our family visit without disrupting all of the kids from their rooms.
The best part about our new home is that we will have 6.5 acres of beautiful land to enjoy and explore. With nature being such an important part of our homeschool, I never anticipated how much I would miss the ease of walking out the back door to find trees and bugs and all that nature has to offer. Our current house has no trees and a small manicured lawn, which means any nature explorations include a car ride and trip to a local park or walking trail.
With 6.5 acres, the possibilities for learning are endless as we can plant a garden and fruit trees and eventually add chickens or other animals to the mix. Maybe one day we’ll even have horses.
So here I am, almost exactly one year after selling our dream home in pursuit of a dream about to move my family for the fourth time in 11 months. It would be easy to have regrets and think about the what ifs, but I have to believe the road we have traveled had a purpose. As for the year we spent moving from dream house to apartment to simple house to forever home, I won’t think of it as a waste.
My 4 year old and I just finished reading “Little House on the Prairie,” the classic tale of the Ingalls family who packed up their entire world in a covered wagon and set out to make a new home in Indian Territory. Pa and Ma spent a whole year working the prairie and literally building a home with their bare hands out of nothing only to be driven out with barely a night’s notice because they had settled in the wrong place.
As the covered wagon pulls away from the little house that they worked so hard to build, Ma begins to despair. “Ma sighed gently and said, “A whole year gone, Charles.” But Pa answered, cheerfully: “What’s a year amount to? We have all the time there is.”
A year may be gone, but we have a lifetime yet to live. We may not have taken the most direct path, but soon we’ll be home forever.