My epiphany moment was when we ripped up the threadbare carpet in our Victorian terrace and began sanding all the floorboards with one of those crazy sander hoover machines you can hire from the tool hire place. We underestimated the permanent dust cloud that took up residence in our house that week and decided on second thoughts our first plan of doing one room at a time and closing the door behind us was not going to work and we needed a plan B! So we packed up a few things and I withdrew along with our toddler and baby into my parents granny annex for a few days whilst the beautiful man battled on bravely and ploughed through the whole house, seeing as it was all caked in dust anyway, we thought might as well go for it!
I noticed after a few days of annex living that life was becoming really simple. We had minimal possessions, toys and distractions around us and the place was really small. I couldn’t work out what was different, why did life have the potential to be so chaotic at home and at times leave me feeling exhausted. Yet here in our new tiny home away from home I was relaxed, the children were more relaxed and we seemed to have all this magical extra time every afternoon to hang out as a family, have time to talk and play games and do all the fun types of activities I dream up and always plan on doing with the best intentions, but inevitably when the day runs short the creative fun would always take the first hit over all the more seemingly proper ‘life’ stuff. You know…so as not to seem like a completely irresponsible parent.
This crazy thought suddenly dawned on me….its because we’re low on stuff. We’re not constantly trying to tidy away, maintain, fix, wash, mend, organise or find places for our belongings. We aren’t overburdened with possessions and endless options of what to play with or do next. The annex was so small all house work could be completed in an hour every day in the morning, leaving time to do a load of laundry and get the dinner on. Then after a snack plate for lunch we were free to do whatever we felt like and enjoy time together. Actual free time…can you believe? Our little family with a toddler and a baby…having time to ourselves to sit around and ponder…what do we feel like doing today? What feels good for us right now? The wave of relief and joy was instant and exciting…we had discovered our own secret life hack just by temporarily downsizing our living space and stuff. Each day carried on the same…I waited for the flaw in the plan that never came. Surely we couldn’t keep this up permanently? It couldn’t just be this simple.
Late each evening my saw dust engulfed, shattered, other half drove for 40 minutes to bed down with us in the annexe after a warmed up dinner and some small chats over a glass of wine before sleep and up the next morning. I shared my revelation with him, we chatted about it lots and our late night youtube viewing of Ted talks quickly became all about minimalism. A seed was planted in our minds that grew almost overnight, very quickly. If you take away the stuff, you have more freedom and feel much more content.
It opened our eyes to how life could become, what new experiences we can have time for and how we could achieve it.
One year later we had successfully kitted out our van for full time family living, sold off and freecycled all of our belongings (packed up a few boxes of sentimental baby stuff & treasures we’ve kept safe with friends), handed the house keys over and set off on our journey.