If you are like me, then you might be guilty of occasionally (or often) binge watching Tiny House Hunters, or Tiny House Builders, or honestly – any of the tiny house shows! They are incredibly fascinating, and I am so intrigued with watching other people pair down their lifestyles. Their simplicity is so appealing, and it has totally inspired me to dial my family’s life back to basics.
To watch these people sell, purge, and pair down their belongings into under a thousand square feet of cozy living definitely has its appeal! And if I wasn’t married with 3 growing children and a house full of fluffy pets, I may even consider joining the movement!
But what I have realized over the years is that you don’t have to move into a legit tiny house to pair down your life. In fact, you can dial your life back to basics in a way that totally fits you and your family. It is a little scary at first, but it can quickly turn into an exciting adventure that encourages you to embrace more simplicity in all areas of your life!
This article is written by Karissa Tunis
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Deciding to Simplify
So how do I know? I happen to know of all of this because I have been doing it myself. For my family, it was actually not much of a choice that kick-started our big change. It was a very unfortunate set of circumstances that brought our full and busy life to a screeching halt.
However, once I got through the frustration, I began to look for the good. I became determined to turn something bad into something very beneficial for all of us!
Below are the steps that I took to dial our family’s life back to basics, the important lessons that we have learned from it, and how we are using these tools and knowledge moving forward.
Before We Went Back To Basics
A few years ago when our son was 4 years old, he was severely injured. Our life, in a split second, completely changed! We suddenly found ourselves in and out of hospitals and doctor appointments over the next several months.
I have always been an organized person. And most friends would probably attest to the fact that my house, no matter how large and full, always had order. I used to do a lot of volunteering, event planning, and more; and I would like to think I did it all pretty well.
But when this traumatic event struck our little family, all of those balls I was juggling just dropped. I felt like I was falling. Every activity that we were involved with just stopped. And suddenly, we found ourselves home. Unless we were at a doctor appointment, or at another medical treatment, we were always home.
Of course at first I did miss all of our extracurricular activities that our kids had been involved in. I missed my social calendar and spending time with friends. I missed going out to eat, and being out in public. And I missed volunteering at school and church, and so on.
A Change of View
Through this experience though, we did re-discover the importance of play, and just being home together as a family. With no other commitments, we could truly just focus on what was inside our 4 walls, and strengthen our family bond.
When I paused and looked at the situation as a whole, and thought about what mattered most, I become humbled and extremely grateful. Our son was still alive! And my other two kids were safe and healthy. We had a lot to be thankful for! And I needed to dwell on that, otherwise I would fall apart.
Unfortunately this terrible event caused a ripple effect in our lives with other relationships. There were also many “memory triggers” to what we had all just been through.
So, after years of contemplating a move to another state, my husband and I decided that a move was actually what we needed! A new beginning with new scenery. A different pace of life, and a big change in our lifestyle. We went from country farmland in the north, to living on the coast in the south. Right near the beach, and just outside of the most charming city that I have ever had the pleasure of visiting.
I was THRILLED!! But it did not happen over night. First we needed to dial more than just our schedule back to basics.
Going Back To Basics
When we decided to put our house up for sale, we knew that we were starting a long process. I either had the option of choosing to be frustrated with the process, or I could embrace it. Because I was already dealing with so much negativity that was out of my control, I decided to try and control everything that was in my mental power, and I chose to seek the positive.
Instead of looking at the future as a “big process” ahead, I chose to look at it as a “fun adventure!”
We had been blessed to live in a very spacious comfortable home. But what I realized, was that the people in that home are what I truly cared about, not the stuff. And after getting a moving bid that was 3x more than I had anticipated, we decided to let go.
We knew that a small apartment would be in our future once the house sold in order to let the kids finish out the school year. And when we did finally make the move down the coast to another state, I didn’t want to waste any energy, time, or money, moving anything that wasn’t important. So….
What wasn’t a priority went out the window. My main focus, after caring for my family of course, was purging. What hadn’t been used in a while, didn’t serve a purpose, or didn’t bring us sentimental joy, went out the door. I took it one room and one closet at a time, and I went through everything! I literally picked up and felt every single object and asked myself “is this worth packing up to make the move?”
If I had to give it time and energy, it needed to be worth it. And if I had to squeeze it into our cute little apartment, it needed to be functional and/or valuable.
So Craigslist, Goodwill, and the Garbage Man became very familiar. I cleared out a bunch of stuff, and even pocketed some extra money that was able to go towards our moving expenses.
And I’m proud to say that after it was all said and done, I probably got rid of over a third of all of our possessions! It might have been hard at first. But once I got on a roll it felt so good! It’s amazing how life became so much lighter!
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We are now settled into our new destination. We are still renting, but it is a lovely home. Eventually we will purchase once we are confident in the area that we want to be in, and we can find the perfect forever home (because moving is a lot of work!).
But right now, I am so happy! I am trying to be present and enjoy every moment. After a very emotional and tough several years for our family, I found my own way of therapy.
I have found that Simplicity is truly beautiful. Basics are much easier. Details can make things complicated. Other people, their opinions, and their expectations can be daunting.
Now there is so much less to clean, less to look at, less to organize, and less to worry about! And I finally feel like I am back. I’m back in my own way, on my own terms, and with new priorities in mind.
For over 10 years, I had spent an incredible amount of time doing tasks and housework that often seemed endless and pointless. However, I am choosing now to live in a different way. I now spend a lot more time running around outside with my kids, and actually doing fun things daily for myself. But in order to do that, something in my life had to give, and for me it was the house and the “stuff” in it.
My Advice For You
To simplify your life you do not need to make a big move to another state like I did. And you don’t even need to move out of your current home. You can start right now, exactly where you are! I will warn you though, that once you start, it can become addicting to the point where you may even want to jump into making-over your entire life! – But it can be an extremely positive change!
Life is short, and you have every right to enjoy it! Embrace what really matters most – not cleaning clutter, or giving your time to unnecessary tasks.
In order to get started, you first need to shift your mindset. Look at this journey as an adventure, and not a to-do list or a long daunting process. There is no time limit. And you will have to keep at it for the rest of your life – especially if you have a family or people living within your home. It is not really a once and done, but rather a lifestyle change. This is because there will always be changes in your schedule and new things coming into your space.
But once you do your initial purge, it will be much easier to maintain! After a busy phase of life, just remember to take some time to reset and go through your schedule and house once again.
I encourage you to follow these steps below.
Back to Basics Checklist:
Clear your calendar.
I know, this is much easier said than done. For me this was not a choice because of my son, but it made such a difference! There will obviously be things that you will still need to accomplish. But if it is not mandatory, cancel it! Create a clean slate, and be very particular about what you add back in and commit to.
Go through your entire house.
Looking at your entire space will feel overwhelming. So focus on just one room at a time. Physically touch everything! If it does not serve a purpose, or bring you sentimental joy, consider passing it on. If you need help getting started, try this 30 day challenge to clean out and simplify your home.
Make a few piles.
I always had a few piles going. One for trash, one to giveaway, one to box up, and one for consignment. I would take clothes, toys, accessories, and whatever else that the consignment shop accepted. If they gave me a few extra bucks – that was awesome! But anything they said no to, I dropped off at Goodwill or the dump. (I know that there are many other options than Goodwill, and I used several drop-off donation sites as well).
My rule though was that once it went out of my house, it was not coming back in! I also made a pile of things to pass on. Whether to a family member or friend, it’s nice to pass along a few items that you want to remain loved!
After your house and schedule is overhauled, and you have truly dialed everything back to basics, breathe. Take some time for yourself. And be intentional as you slowly allow things back into your home and routine.
Life is never easy, and it can become overly complicated and cluttered. It can also throw us curve balls from time to time. But I hope that I can teach my kids that it doesn’t mean life is over. It just means that you dial your life back to the basics, re-adjust, and move forward in a new way. And if you can do all of that, it will make you stronger, and teach you some very valuable life lessons along the way!
And for some time now, life has been teaching me that there truly is beauty in simplicity and getting back to basics – no matter why or how you get there!
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