Over a month ago we moved. I have had time to get us settled and into a routine. I have spent a lot of that time reflecting on this huge life change we made. It was a throughly thought out decision. While there were a handful of reasons on our pro-move list, the major reason ended up being the desire for more quality family time. We ended up moving closer to my husband’s company.
Our previous home was almost 4 times larger than the condo we moved into. We had to downsize quite a bit. A family of 4 with two young boys, decreasing living space by so much, may seem a little crazy. I honestly believe it was one of the most stress-relieving choices we have ever made. There have been studies done on clutter and excessive amounts of things and the link between stress and depression. Houselogic explored this idea and explained that women in particular can feel these effects. There is an increase in stress and anxiety with an increase of things, clutter, dishes, etc. I did not need the book they referenced to tell me that. I was living proof of that. I often found myself feeling overwhelmed with the amount of work it took to keep that home in somewhat of an order. I use the term order loosely. I usually always felt like I was struggling to keep up. With a large space comes the urge to fill it or at least a lack of discipline to not fill it with stuff. You begin to feel, what is the point of empty rooms? You surely should put things in these closets and rooms, even if they are rarely entered. There were parts of the house we didn’t enter for weeks at a time. I am not even exaggerating. For the most part we spent our time in our kitchen. Then headed to our respective bedrooms for sleep.
Our six year old asked if they could share a room when we moved. He had actually asked prior to considering a move, but we had so many bedrooms, why would they share? Again, goes back to the concept of if you have the rooms you want to fill them. The boys are sharing a room now. They have a super cool bunk bed and it is working out perfectly fine. We had normal new home jitters for the first week or so, but now, our routine is down and they are happy as clams. They have their occasional arguments and yes, right now they are six and two, but they have arguments when not in their bedroom and they had arguments before we moved. That is part of sibling life. I have two brothers, I know how it goes. I find it helps them learn to share a bit more, sometimes they have to learn how to manage their conflicts, and it has taught them to rely on one another. One night I decided to take a bath, which shares a wall with their room, and ran the tub jets. They were not asleep yet and the sounds scared them. When I checked on them on the camera they were kind of freaking out. Jackson was able to tell me they were hearing sounds, I was able to tell him it was me and my tub, he then told Alex, “don’t worry Alex, mommy is just taking a bath! That’s all it is.” They both settled in and fell fast asleep. It promotes bonding and leaning on one another.
Personally, I love the smaller space. So does my husband. While researching this topic a bit, time after time I came across how much less stress families feel with less stuff. I can attest to that fact. We had to make choices on what to bring and what to give away or get rid of. I can breeze through the condo and tidy up in an hour, maybe less (I should be doing that now, but I wanted to work on this). I had a migraine a couple days ago and was in bed all day. My husband did a lot to help out but the house was kind of destroyed. Between yesterday and today I pretty much have it how I like it. Both days were busy with other activities as well, but I am not behind on laundry or anything. In the other house, it would have gotten out of hand a lot quicker and a lot worse. More stuff and space to mess means it is easier to make a bigger mess.
I have said a few times now, I think with the home we fell in love with and bought and moved and grew our family into, that our eyes were bigger than our stomachs. Neither of us had ever lived in a house that large, growing up or as adults. We were unaware of how much goes into that. Add multiple kids, owning a demanding business, and a million other things, the stress adds up, the mess adds up, and if I am being honest, the unhappiness can add up. That’s not to say smaller living is for everyone. I think the important takeaway is to look into your own heart and family and determine what is right for you. For us, this has been a positive experience.
We cherish our old home and we cherish the relationships we made while living there. I truly do. I met so many wonderful human beings while we spent six years in that area. It was hard to say goodbye to most of them. Some will be easier to stay connected with than others. Leaving the boys amazing pediatrician was very hard for me as well as Jackson’s Tae Kwon Do master. Staying connected with our wonderful friends, who even took us out for a goodbye dinner, will be easier. I am thankful for that. I gave up my Pilates room. I have a space for it, our master bedroom is large enough to fit my Reformer and Wundachair, but I no longer have a designated room. The boys only took their most cherished toys. We gave up our amazing yard. We gained a massive amount of family time. The boys get to eat breakfast with their dad. They had only ever done that if he worked from home. My husband gets to come to school drop off sometimes. Getting to schoole vents is so much easier for him. He isn’t being pulled in as many directions, which means I am also not being pulled in as many directions. We can share our parenting duties more easily. Teamwork is simpler to accomplish. I gained sense of relaxation and ease. My husband gained a nearly non-existent commute. It had been 3 hours every day. Now he walks to work or grabs a cab/uber. We gained easy access to museums, parks, and events around the city. We walk our oldest to school and from school every morning. We actually run into people we know on the street more often here than we did in the suburbs. It was mind baffling when that started to happen!
We gave up material things and spaces but we gained a lot of emotional benefits, and sometimes that is what ultimately matters. Life is change. As hard as it can be to face, sometimes it is exactly what you need. I do not know what the next six years will bring us. I don’t know if in six years that I will be writing a blog about how living in a small space with a 12 year old and a 8 year old is impossible. I could not have predicted six years ago that I would be regretting my choice to move from Chicago to its suburbs. That is life though, an adventure. That has been our relationship motto over the past almost 13 years. Here’s to this new adventure and lots more cuddling in a smaller space.