Using Moving to Minimize
Imagine this: You have two three-year-olds and are packing up a four-bedroom house with a huge basement to drive 15 hours to live with family for a month before moving into a smaller, three bedroom house with very limited storage. What's a family to do?!?! Our answer: Minimize.
Since our twins were born in early 2014, we have moved three times. Each time we have tried to capitalize on the effort it already takes to move, to reduce our belongings and downsize our life. Moving is an AMAZING opportunity to downsize. When you're already packing an entire POD and minivan with stuff, you don't want to take anything extra. Found a box you haven't opened since originally moving in over a year ago? Gone! Found an extra spatula once the Kitchen Boxes are taped up? Donated! Can't fit the cribs in the POD? Guess it's time to move to Big Girl Beds! (Or, in our case, to mattresses on the floor for six months...Sorry, not sorry).
A huge benefit to moving, and especially to moving to a smaller house, is it forces you to consider everything you own. We packed everything ourselves into boxes and into the POD. When you're forced to actually touch every item upon packing and unpacking (Hello, Marie Kondo!) it really does make you asses whether it's worth keeping. We found tons of items we had forgotten we even owned (lamps, cheap Christmas platters, old bottles and breast pump, worn out rugs, etc.).
Why did we keep all of this? I think a lot of it was that in our old house we had the room to keep it. We had two extra bedrooms, one of which was a guest room and one which was basically a junk room. We also had a HUGE basement. We used some of it as a gym but it also had four side storage areas which were all partially filled. Whenever we bought something new, rather than tossing or donating the old item, we stuck it in the basement. We also kept things "just in case" because we could hide them away.
Since our move, we don't have this type of space. We have five people in a three-bedroom house. We have no basement and two small attics we currently don't use--and don't plan to. Almost everything we possess must be viewed at least semi-regularly when we're living in our space or opening a closet. That unattractive chair you never liked quickly becomes much more annoying when it's taking up needed Toddler Dance Party space.
We have become much more mindful of almost immediately donating or tossing an item we no longer want or need. If I think, "Should I toss this?" I probably should. I have a donations bag by our back door that is constantly being filled and emptied at our charities of choice. Our daughters are used to regularly selecting two books or donate. Obviously, we're not perfect (for one, I have a bread maker I haven't used since our kids were born). But donating and minimizing is becoming more of a habit rather than a special one-off every six months or year. And I think what made this regular minimizing seem more possible and plausible was moving.