Friday, February 26, 2016

Choosing to Live with Less

For years I have had the desire to downsize the amount of stuff we own. When we bought our first home in Toronto we were operating with about 1100 square feet total, and owned way more than we needed. I would attempt to get rid of things, but was never all that successful. Though we manage to keep a tidy home, things get hidden in corners and closets and before you know it the accumulation of items is out of control. Why do we own so much?

These days we live in a consumer driven society. Earn more, spend more, own more! Bigger homes, faster cars. We fill our closets with the latest trends, and then shop seasonally for clothes that society tells us we "need". We work, work, work to spend, spend, spend and our priorities seem to be way out of whack.

Personally my biggest issue with too much stuff and too many commitments is the way that they control my life and my time. Instead of focusing on my husband and children I get caught up in organizing and cleaning a big house full of stuff we don't necessarily need. My view really changed last summer when we spent two weeks living our 17' Boler as we travelled around Vancouver Island.

Stamp River - August 2015
Camping in Stamp River. Port Alberni, Vancouver Island

Living in such a small space and moving around frequently forced us to bring only the items that we really needed... or thought we needed. We discovered over that two weeks that we didn't even need everything packed into that trailer and could have brought much less with us. Each day I was content to lay down with our napping baby and read a book, rather than scroll mindlessly through social media posts. We were all happy and relaxed, and as soon as I got back to that big ol' house of ours, the stress of maintaining all of that space and "stuff" came rushing back. 

I found myself losing patience with my daughter while I was trying to clean and organize and all she wanted to do was play. My priorities were seriously misdirected, and I knew I needed to address this head on. Not only did we have a lot of stuff, but our children had far more toys than they truly needed.

Over the course of a summer outside, camping in various locations we noticed our daughter was far more happy and confident when out in nature playing with the dogs, sticks, rocks, dirt or just a ball. She listened better and used her imagination more. We would build, discover, swim, splash and just be - so why not have less toys that keep her busy inside and spend more time experiencing life outdoors?

Ucluelet - August 2015
An afternoon climbing, throwing rocks and just "being" on a beach in Ucluelet

As we prepare for our move to the east coast, we are selling the majority of our possessions. Our focus is on items we no longer use or need, and items that it would cost more to ship than it would be to replace. We would like to not spend too much shipping stuff across country, and of course attempt to live with less as we travel in our trailer for a few months.

From owning less, I hope our whole family also finds less desire to buy items. I'd rather collect memories than tangible items. 

When looking back on my own childhood I remember time spent with family more than I do the items they bought me. Not to say I wasn't thankful for the gifts I was so lucky to be given, but my fondest memories of Christmas are of the time spent with family. Annual trips to the tree farm to chop down a tree and decorate it while watching classic Christmas movies, and visiting with family and friends we only saw a few times a year. 

So many people are trying to understand what we are doing. Why are you getting rid of everything? Will you be able to work when you get out there? The whole purpose of our move is to completely change the way we live. No, we won't be making the same money we did out here, but we won't need that much money. Our goal is to be mortgage free, consume less and live a much more simple life. When boredom strikes I would much rather set foot outside to explore with the kids, instead of heading to the local mall to spend money or buy more items that will not bring us happiness.

In beginning this journey, I have heard from others who desire to simplify their lives as well. I hope that in sharing our experience, I can inspire more people to do the same. If you're looking for further inspiration, I suggest the following blogs:

Have any of you thought of simplifying your life? What does it mean to you?


  1. You're my inspiration! I am writing a blog post now about my plans to stop using credit cards for March in an effort to simplify - credit card spending makes it SO easy.

  2. hmmm...downsizing!!! its usually not a "one time thing" as one would think it is. Im on my third...or is it fourth go round. It never really is a final thing. Im hopeful this is the last time. Im too old for this S@#T. This acquiring thing. The stuff I can't quittttttte relinquish stored at various kids basements. I go to their house to visit my STUFF...Theres just two of us here in a small apartment with limited closet space and even more limited kitchen counters and storage so all my platters and small appliances and years of collecting stuff...its at their house. I get texts once in awhile (when one of them decides to purge stuff) "mom can I get rid of...." ? Sometimes its yeah...go ahead. Sometimes its "don't you dare". Im a work in progress, but on a recent trip to visit my mother......I feel so much more superior. She has so much shit....its painful looking at it all. Its almost clostraphobic.