One of the many things I was looking forward to this year is my ultimate desire to own as little as possible, or at least feel like I do. Packing into our suitcases only the things Tim and I could physically carry got me one step closer to this uncommon goal.
For some time now, I've been resisting our consumerist culture and trying to balance it with my beliefs that goods do not define me, and that it's important to be environmentally conscious for each item I bring into my home. This is a hard thing to do when we live in a culture that suggests that more is better, and its so easy to purchase things that are disposable.
I've taken on challenges like the Time Capsule Wardrobe, which narrows down your closet to 37 items each season. It may sound crazy, but try it out before you dismiss it. I loved how it transformed my closet and spruced up my tired wardrobe. By focusing on only the items you truly love wearing you remove all the other clothing clutter. I will continue to maintain a 37 or under wardrobe, as I realize I don't need anymore than this. The Time Capsule Wardrobe also proved helpful when I was trying to figure out how to pack for this adventure.
The one thing I still haven't figured out is the kids' gear. Once you have a baby, the quantity of things that you own suddenly seems to quadruple. Add another child and you instantly have four car seats for two cars, four strollers depending on the outing, cribs, high chairs and bins upon bins of clothes and toys. All of these items you have stored safely for baby #2. Then you question if you'd ever be crazy enough to consider a 3rd child, because you sure as heck don't want to get rid of all of the gear and have to buy it again!
We live in a cozy 1,000 square foot two bedroom house that has minimal storage and minimal items. I like it that way! Tim and I frequently edit and remove things so that we are not bursting out of the closets.
And yet, I still think we have too much. We filled up an entire storage unit with random things when we left the house for the tenants this year. Do we really need to save all our power tools from every home renovation project we've ever done, in case we need the tool in the future? Tim says yes, in case we'd ever be crazy enough to consider another home renovation project. Me, I'm not so sure.
I think a lot of this angst over material items is also associated with the reality that I am living with a 16 month old. I remember this stage with Oliver, and started to cringe as I approached it with Vera. In my opinion, it is the age of disaster.
Vera is a walking tornado. She runs through the house, pulling things off of shelves, dumping bags, tipping chairs and trying to toss herself off of anything dangerous. She's like a drunk college kid! I am constantly frustrated with the instantaneous disasters she instigates. I am also extremely sensitive to the visual chaos. Maybe it is my designer instincts, but I prefer things to be in order, and kids sure as hell aren't orderly!
My solution for this at home has been to slowly and methodically remove things that she has access to. But is it fair to limit the toys so that I don't need to pick up so much?
As we embarked on this journey, I envisioned the time we'd spend in other homes and new spaces. When Vera has time to explore new spaces it significantly lessens the mess she causes. She's more interested in the home's layout than the stuff on the shelves. Give her a month, and she'll start in on the bookcases after she's exhausted all other options.
So far, this theory has worked like a charm. We've changed to different homes, different environments, and different places to explore. This has limited the mess and lessened the repetitive task of picking up the same toys, the same messes, in the same house day after day.
Living out of a suitcase for the past two months has confirmed that we can get more out of life by having less.