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Drastically downsizing....

793 Views 7 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  GruppieGirl
Not even sure where to start. We currently live in a 2500 sq ft house and we're packed to the gills.
I am looking to purchase a home for myself and my children (see single parenting/TAO if you wanna see the stories). The one I really, really love online (we're not in the area yet, will be moving there in the next two weeks) is a 960 sq ft house. TINY. WHERE do I even start with downsizing. The girls currently have their own rooms, they will have to share in the new house. There's a bar between the kitchen and dining room in the new house, I think I'll just put the dining room chairs there and forget about the dining room table. Stbx will be taking the extra furniture, futon, large tv, etc. But what do I do to make our new home cozy, but not cluttered. Simple living is what I want to give my kids, the playroom is terrible. Honestly, it's like FAO Swartz in our playroom, and the kids do play with most of the items. Two are really large, a *very* large play kitchen and two drawers of kitchen items and a big ride-on horse. We also have a box filled with playsilks and dressup items and three organizers filled with blocks, legos, *more* dressup stuff, baby doll stuff. Ds' room is a 7 yr olds dream, a bed, dresser, nightstand, desk and two toyboxes filled with toys. I am really worried that they will feel cramped, but there's something about this house that speaks to me, something tells me this is our home. I love the layout, I love the simple design. HOW do I downsize this drastically?
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I wonder if the kitchen would be something that ought to go. It's a big item that will take up a lot of space. It sounds like you have lots of other great open-ended things for the kids to play with and the big items can find a new home. Do the kids *need* a ride on horse? Or can these things go to dads house? lol At least maybe one of them can if that's an option. Also, look through the dress up clothes and see what is too small or ripped and donate/throw away so that can be scaled back (I am needing to do this myself).

Six months ago I actually went through the playroom and took 2/3rds of the toys in there and donated them. My kids didn't see me do this and have yet to ask for a toy I donated to this day. You might be surprised that if you did scale back at least half of their stuff, thay may not even notice. Frankly, I was quite surprised they didn't notice at least a few of the things and boy did it feel GOOD to downsize.

It may seem a daunting task but it sounds like you do have the desire, just don't know where to start.
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My kids and I live in a house under 600 sq ft. There are two small bedrooms (8x10 and 8x8)--those are the kids' rooms. I have a futon in the living area. It can be done.

If you are going to move to a smaller place and want to feel uncluttered, you're going to have to get rid of some of the bigger toys and furniture. There is no way around that. I'm not sure how old your kids are, but you could possible ask them to help you sort through their things and discard what they don't want. You may be surprised what they're willing to get rid of. We recently cleared about half the stuff out of my daughter's room and she's not missing it at all. My kids are like yours--they'll use whatever toys are there. However, because we declutter on a regular basis, they don't get attached to too many things. Also, because our house is so small, they see the value in having the space rather than the "stuff."

For storage in the new house, I would look at open shelves and stacked cubbies rather than furniture like big bureaus and toyboxes that hide the mess. I find that I'm a lot more motivated to keep things organized when I am constantly looking at it. We don't have any closets in our house, which is a pain at times, but it's really taught me a lot about what needs to be "saved for later" and what doesn't.

I will tell you this--my mother lived in this house before I did. She moved to a place twice as big and now she has two or three times the clutter problems I do. I'm hoping that when/if we move somewhere bigger, I can still apply the lessons I've learned living here and not let stuff accumulate that way. I am constantly Freecycling and eBaying and giving stuff to Salvation Army to try to avoid it.
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You can do it! I agree with the PPs that kids do better with fewer toys, and they often won't miss what you move out. Since your girls are older, can you engage them in the process? Be excited about the new house, and talk about giving things to others via donation.

I try to avoid toy boxes and bins where things can just pile up. Open storage with small bins that can't hold much are nice because stuff just isn't able to build up.

Avoid large pieces of furniture in a smaller house--I'd suggest looking into some Feng Shui resources for how to arrange furniture in your new house. It's very practical advice--I have some links on my blog...

Good luck!
Depending on their ages, you can ask them what they want to give up/away vs. keep. Maybe give them a set number of toys they can keep. Otherwise, and maybe in addition, you go through and cull. Chances are they won't miss it. It is hard to get rid of something once it is in your home and the DC have been enjoying it. I have found that with some things I almost feel as if I or we cannot live without it. After our move, I have come across things that once held that esteemed position in my mind and home- but I had completely forgotten about them while they were packed up LOL! Usually my reaction was one of dismay that I had seen it again and now it was on my mind as a 'must keep'.

Maybe set aside just those things you use on a daily basis and go from there. And even if you do end up taking too much stuff with you, you can always get rid of it later.

Hope you get the house you like and have an easy move!
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I would really like to join this tribe! My family and I moved into a small farm house almost two years ago. We were living in a large house (about 3200 sqft) and now the six of us are living in 900. We are building an addition that was only going to take about four months (HA!) to finish.

I love it here. We have nothing. We buy nothing. We keep nothing. I can name everything in this house. We have lived without all of our stuff for so long now. We can't need it, or we couldn't have made it. The hardest part for me was my closet. My old one was about the size of the bedroom my girls now share and I share a normal closet with my husband and two sons.

I worried about toys, too. However, the best part was getting rid of the toys. All we have fit in one plastic tote. Instead of playing with toys, my children play with each other. It's amazing! They get along better, too.

It's hard to find a space to yourself, but we all try to make room for each other. We are happier than we ever have been. We are a better family. Now I can see that before the clutter, and the heaps of laundry, were between us, separating us. Now what we have is a storage bill, and each other.

I'm in no hurry for the addition to be finished. What if we're not so close when we can spread out?
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i agree with the idea of letting your children help with the 'culling' process. by giving them a limit of what they can keep for themselves (i like the idea of one box or bin each), and putting a limit on shared toys (legos, silks, etc), you'll be able to control the amount brought in to your new home.

when the toys are donated, i recommend that you take the children with you to the donation place. my mother made a point of driving us into *very* poor and run down neighborhoods and homeless shelters where we would donate our toys. we also donated to children's hospitals, and my parents took me there. THey wanted me to see how other children lived and know how i was helping these kids by giving them some of my things.

because of this, i often felt really good about 'toy culling' day. We did this about 2-3 times a year. We had to decide what was really important to us, and then we got the satisfaction of donating our toys to other, less fortunate children for them to enjoy.

I even remember an experience where i went to school and one of the little girls was wearing one of my old outfits (in good condition) and carrying one of my toys in her back pack. She didn't know that i'd donated them, but i did. I knew that she was poor and she was so proud of her nice, new clothes and her new toy. I NEVER mentioned that they were once mine, but i felt great pride in the fact that she was so happy with those things that i was able to give away.

So, this could be a huge growth lesson for your kids about learning to live with less, to love and enjoy and care for what you have, and offer whta you no longer want or need so that others may find joy in those things.
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I recently did the same thing before my move last fall. The biggest thing that helped me was that I was really motivated to downsize. It sounds like you are too!!

Kid's Rooms: Is there a time when both kids are out of the house? Maybe they can play at a neighbor's or friend's. Go through the kid's rooms them. Any junkie or broken toys were tossed. Baby toys were donated that day. The toys that I wanted to get rid of since the kids didn't play with them, I put away for a few weeks/day. If the kids didn't ask about the toys I donated them.

Kitchen: This was tough, but I want through and really just chose what I used almost every day. 1 skillet, 1 large pat, 1 small pot, 1 omlett pan. Dinner dishes, cereal bowls, a couple of tea cups, a couple of wine glasses and all of the juice cups. The rest went to freecycle.

Linving Room: I shelves and boxes of Cd's. I bought an organizing case and tossed the jewl cases to save space. I was also holding onto lots of framed pictures that weren't displayed anymore. For those pictures I took them out of their frames to save space.

Garage: Saved 1 leaf rake, 1 dirt rake, 1 shovel, 1 of each screwdrive, 1 get the picture. We had a ton of repeat tools and many that I had no clue what to use them for.

Bathroom: If you are like me you have accumulated a ton of towels and beauty sullplies that have never seen the light of day. Really think about the beauty sullies that you will actually use, not just what you hope to use one day. Throw the rest to the curb. As for the extra towels, animal shelters love them.

I wish we lived close, I would love to come over and help you purge.

Best of luck in making your house lighter and simpler!!
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