Living full-time as a family of four (and a dog) in a 36ft fifth wheel camper isn’t for everyone. But minimalism and downsizing can be! Living on less can save you money, reduce your impact on the planet, and teach you to be generous and appreciate what you choose to keep around.
So, after six months of living in under 300 square feet, these are (still) the most important lessons we’re learning.
1. Deciding is (still) Difficult: When you downsize you have to make decisions…a lot! We had to take 11 years of life’s “stuff” and decide which things were important enough to take with us. That is harder than you think.
I’m learning that, while deciding is difficult, it isn’t impossible. I kept a few things from family members that have passed on or pictures that our kids drew so I have tiny reminders, but the memories from what I left behind are still there. I will never forget my aunt Bevy’s handwriting or the rock picture frame I first gifted Spence. I don’t have to keep it squirreled away somewhere for me to maybe never actually look at again until we move or I need to empty a cabinet. Deciding is difficult, but rewarding.
2. Presence Over Presents Wins Out Every Time:
What we are experiencing is a freedom from things we thought we needed. I thought I needed to hold on to momentos from my past and our kids thought they needed every little trinket and toy. My husband and I thought we needed time to unwind after work with a mindless TV show, but now we rarely even turn on the TV and we don’t have satellite or cable.
We are, however, making our own memories. Every weekend we are experiencing our community, visiting new places, being active together every chance we get. We are getting dirty, building things, learning things, and enjoying building our tiny lives together in a big way. It is pretty incredible and costs next to nothing.
3. Intentionally Be Intentional Always: Since going tiny, we have freed ourselves from the mundane but necessary parts of everyday life. We no longer have a yard to mow, fence to fix, barn to clean, house to sanitize from a week of baby goo, mountains of laundry to wash, forget about, rewash, smell to make sure we didn’t leave it too long, and then forget about in baskets for the upcoming week.
All of that is gone. What we are left with is ourselves and each other.
Our job now—our primary goal—is to be together and enjoy life. Yes, I have to go to a full time job that is more stress than they pay me for, but I am able to focus during my ride home on doing my best to rid myself of what is leftover so I can give my best to my husband and kids when I get home.
Now we can let ourselves have time to feel things, discuss things, and experience things we just couldn’t or didn’t make a priority before.
I can now read bedtime stories to my kids each night and kiss boo-boos and remind our son who struggles with his emotions that mommy does too and that’s okay. It is a change I may never have experienced otherwise. And, again, not my spiritual gift, but I am learning. Briggs still rarely sees me cry, but now we can talk about it because I don’t have the excuse that I have too much to do, and that is pretty amazing.
4. Simplicity is Bliss: Full transparency, I wear my jeans at least three times before washing them. And honestly, if you are the type of person who washes every item of clothing or bath towel each time you use them, I don’t understand your life.
Now that we live tiny, I own about 50 pieces of clothing. Yes, that includes undergarments. So from work/church clothes to t-shirts and jeans, shoes and accessories, I have about 50 things. Do you know how much easier it is to get dressed in the mornings!?
I used to change three times some days before even going to work because I just felt like a blob of horribly dressed goo. Now, I am able to accept where my body is at the time because I only own clothes that make me feel good. If I don’t feel good in something, it has to go. It’s that simple. I have already made three additional bags/totes of donations since moving.
So now, not only with clothes but with everything, I choose to keep things I sincerely love and get joy out of having. Each dish, each decoration, every picture and blanket were chosen on purpose and that simplicity is a gift.
5. In Everything Be Thankful: I am coming to learn that having the mental space to breathe and to be thankful when our daughter does something new, our son learns a lesson he is excited about, or we just have a campfire on a weeknight to unwind is something I never knew I was missing until I did.
Moving on is never easy, but it isn’t the place we miss. We miss the relationships—the people. The thing is, no one can take the memories from us. We are choosing our new lifestyle. We are trading in the feelings of being overwhelmed with debt and never-ending to-do lists for a life of freedom to enjoy the things we love and to have the time to be intentional—to be able to afford to make the memories we have always wanted for ourselves and for our children.
Downsizing is never easy, but the liberation that is being born from this type of simplicity and minimalist living is indescribably beautiful.
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13 Replies to “Six Months In: A Family of Four Living Tiny in Under 300 sq. ft.”
Wow what an awesome post. I have so many questions so wonder if I can connect with you as hubby and I are seriously looking at how we can do something similar. This is definitely favourited and pinned. I have also subscribed.
Sure thing! Feel free to email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org I am always up for connecting with fellow tiny community members! We sincerely love it!
Great read! I love reading about other family’s adventures and dreams coming true. We too are a full time RVing family! Check out rvdoingthis.com! Thanks for sharing!
So awesome to find like-minded folks!
A great read. I could relate to your points very well. I wish I could follow some of them. Living with 50 pieces of clothes is the foremost in mind. Presence over presents is another one. Still a lot to learn in life.
I think you were brave, as a person and as a family, to decide to go minimalist and live all together in such a small space. I’m not a minimalist nor a downsizer (nor I am fond of these philosophies), but I also wear clothes at least three times before washing, I try to never waste a single piece of food, I use leftover oil and sauces, I try to use only as much water and energy as I need. Why waste it? I’m a bit anti-waste person. XD But I could never give up my own spaces – in fact, I recently moved out because I was going crazy living in an apartment with parents and two siblings. And I want to buy a big house one day just to have a room to turn into a private library; I have many books, and they’re going to be my legacy, too. So I guess I’m going minimal only in some areas of my life, but it still feels good in terms of not wasting.
Big hugs from Italy!
Oh downsizing my books was HHHHhaaaarrrdd! I, too, LOVE books! So now, I have a select few favorites and the others I read online or get from the library.
I don’t know if I could deal with this. As a food blogger, I can’t believe how much stuff I’ve accumulated. I keep finding myself needing to figure out where to put extra dishes and platters. I don’t know what I would do. But, to each their own. I hope your family is happy in your space and I wish you all the best.
Wow..that’s amazing..I don’t think we can survive a day in a 300sq ft!
This is amazing! I think we do get lost in all of the things we want, we think we need and we have. I did a massive purge of my things for the new year, but I still have so many unnecessary things. I love the idea of having more time and mental space to make memories! So much more important than things!
Emma x | http://www.violetelm.com