I hate to even remind you — it is July, after all — about how epic last winter was. Truly the biggest snowfall. Ever.
I can see already that everyone in these parts is enjoying summer like never before. We all just want to bottle it and enjoy it more than usual. I remember dreaming of cool breezes on hot days, farmers markets, and beachy sunkissed babes, and now here we are, living it up and checking things off our bucket list.
Back to this winter for a minute, though. My house, along with practically every house around town, suffered from ice dam damage. Our dining room was blocked off for three months from a dripping mess of a ceiling, leaving us to dine in awkward arrangements for a quarter of the year. We even ended up in a hotel for two weeks while our rockstar insurance company footed the bill and the repairs were being done.
When my family of four prepared to dwell in 400 square feet, we thought it would be a colossal mess. But the strangest thing happened: We loved it. The small space forced us to pare down everything — our wardrobes, our groceries, our toys, our books. We learned we can live on a whole lot less than we thought.
When it was time to move back to our house, we felt like we were relocating to a mansion. You should know that our house is, indeed, more than three times the size of the hotel room, but it’s not a mansion by any means — it’s a nice little New England cape, in fact. While living at the hotel, I read some famous books about decluttering, which became the motivation for our furious organization project. We donated tons of items. We had an epic yard sale. But what we really did was reclaim our house. We took this transition as an opportunity to simplify, simplify, simplify. I like to think of it as a reboot-my-life project.
By getting rid of a lot of our clothes, books, toys, and stuff, we are hoping that we are giving our girls a better home — a place to relax, play, explore, and enjoy each other. By getting rid of excess, we welcomed empty spaces and invited calm into our home. So far, it is working. I find that we value what we do have more now that it is not clouded by the extra stuff. Why so much stuff? Why do we do this? Maybe it’s all that working-parent guilt. Or stay-at-home guilt? Or the need to fill ourselves up.
What we have learned, however, is that with less, our house seems to have more purpose. The kitchen is a place to eat, our playroom is a place to play, and while there are some forms of entertainment for the girls in each space (dinners must be cooked and dishes must be done, of course), our house is not just a big ol’ romper room with our stuff in it. We are happier.
So, good job winter. You’ve taught me how to live with less. Now do us all a favor and simmer down next year, OK?