A dear friend sent me the card, completely out of the blue, made my day. The topic may be more appropriate that she realised.
I may have mentioned we are in the process of moving house again. My sister* recently posted on Facebook that she has moved 7 times in the last 23 years. That sounded like a lot, so I counted on my fingers how many times we have moved, starting with moving out of our first family home 20 years ago. I calculated 9 moves, not including the 3 months we stayed in an ‘apart-hotel’ in Paris before our rental house was ready in 2008.
*On a side note, I wonder if moving continents when my sister and I were 7 and 10 years old respectively had an effect on our tolerance levels of moving around and starting afresh? Our desire to do so even? I’ll let you know in 3 -5 years whether I start getting itchy feet again.
I counted that Paris one as a single move because on that occasion, we packed up and unpacked only once – I brought to the apart-hotel only what I could fit in the car and roof-box (which included 2 children and a border collie). The Border collie should have her own travel blog, she’s been all over the place. She tells me her one regret is we’ve never taken her to America…she’s always wanted to see Maine. Maybe next year.
So, nine moves in 20 years – it doesn’t sound like so much, not really. I guess I’m sort of used to it. I always say I hate moving, but that’s not technically true. I just always wish I started the de-cluttering/donating earlier.
Every time we move, I clear out kitchen cupboards and bedroom wardrobes. And every time, as I unpack the boxes at the new house I balk at how much stuff we still have, as the removal team bring in box after box after box labeled ‘Kitchen’. Really? More stuff for the kitchen? Quite a few things I’ve donated this time have been things I’ve kept for years ‘just in case’ we need them. Dangerous words in terms of clutter and junk. I’m quite proud of myself, whilst still looking around asking myself if all that is left will fit in the new space.
Sometimes we’ve moved house (countries, even) without me having seen the house at all – in that scenario it’s impossible to imagine where your furniture will go, or if it will all fit. Usually it doesn’t, at least not how you’d like.
This time, however, I have seen it, and I know for a fact that my new kitchen is…cozy. The house smaller than any space we’ve lived in during the last 20 years. My concern is not over the size of the kitchen, nor the size of the house, I love it. It’s the quantity of equipment and size of furniture that I would need to cram into the space, as it currently stands. Who wants to be tripping over furniture and trying to catch kamikaze dishes every time you open a cupboard? I’ve mentioned this before, but really… who needs 50 coffee cups? (I haven’t cleared out that particular cupboard yet, I’m building up to it.) We are on a serious minimising (minimalising?) mission. I have managed to get the kids and husband on board, and between us I calculated that we’ve removed about 9 or 10 big boxes of excess belongings and a sofa from the house.
I think I’ve been quite ruthless, but I do find that it depends on the day. I have to force myself to ask ‘Have I used this in the last x days? Will I use in the next x days?’. For the purpose of minimalism, I have been allowing myself 90 days, but then I hear my own thoughts justifying keeping everything. ‘Well, no, I haven’t, not technically, but…‘
Here’s a good example: my slow cooker. I don’t think it’s a very good one. However, it’s the only one I have, and I have used it successfully enough in the past, depending on what I’m cooking. I say it’s not very good because it’s not much use for dishes using stewing steak, unless I seal the meat first (and by the time I’ve done all of that at 6am, I might as well wait until the evening and cook the whole thing in one pan, using my Le Creuset – it always comes out perfectly in that). So I haven’t used the slow cooker in the last 90 days, and I don’t know if I will use it in the next 90 days… does that mean I should donate it? I’m not sure I can bring myself to do that. You see? It depends on the day.
However, my real issue is that we’ve got quite a bit more furniture to sell – our furniture has accumulated in quantity and size over the years. The dining table was bought according to the space we had at the time. Things we bought 10 years ago or more simply will not fit into our new home. We are now 10 days away from moving day, and I’m on holiday a hundred miles away, thinking of all the things I should have done already. We won’t arrive back home until four days before the movers come. Breathe….it will be ok. It all works out in the end, or it doesn’t, and then you deal with it anyway. No point worrying about it, right?
So. Anyone want a dining table with 8 chairs, 3 piece bedroom set, and a giant bookcase? No? How about a slow cooker and a Kenwood bread machine?