In recent years there has been a push to the minimalist movement. People are getting rid of all.the.things and moving into tiny houses barely the size of a NYC apartment on the Upper West Side (read: super tiny). Moms are getting rid of their kids’ toys. In Facebook groups, thousands are dedicated to purging and Marie Kondo-ing their homes in order to live a more simple, organized and stress free life. And I never thought I would be a part of the movement, but here I am.
Any military spouse knows the size of your home, and therefore your belongings, changes every two to three years. All of us have a stockpile of random curtains someplace mixed in with pictures that don’t really fit in this house but might fit in the next. We have awards and accolades our spouses have received as well as numerous Ball glasses that we no longer have space for. For people who move every few year, military families tend to gather a bunch of stuff.
Despite my tendencies to throw things away when they are no longer needed (or I perceive them to no longer be needed — sorry, honey) we still have accumulated so.much.crap. Between babies, birthdays and running an in-home preschool, I have found myself drowning in THINGS. And it stresses me out.
When we received orders to come to Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., my husband and I were shocked. We are Marine Corps and we would be moving to an Army base, but only for a year. We had to pack up our 4,500-square-foot house situated on 4.5 acres and somehow cram it into base housing, which we soon found out was about half the size of our current home. I was dreading it. I stayed up late at night posting our belongings to Craigslist and on Facebook. I practically begged strangers to meet me in the Target parking lot so I could hand off some of our stuff. We even convinced the buyers of our home to purchase some of the furniture because there was no way it could fit in a tiny house in Kansas.
Not only were we faced with getting rid of all.the.things, we also found out that our children would not have their own rooms. I know, #firstworldproblems over here, but sleep is precious and I hadn’t had any in about 2.5 years. All throughout the drive to Kansas I pondered how I would manage their sleep routines, how I would deal with sick kids in the same room, and if I would die from sleep deprivation.
But, such as military life goes, we didn’t have much of a choice. I knew moving into a smaller house would be tough and as we pulled into to see it I thought, “Welp, we are all going to kill each other living in this tiny space.”
Here we are, almost three months later and I can tell you this: We are all still alive. And quite frankly, we love it.
We didn’t unpack half the boxes that came with us because we knew we would only be here for a year. Things aren’t all in their perfect spots; I have my roasting pan in the laundry room and we made a makeshift pantry out of our hall closet, but we fit. Cleaning my house takes half the time, if not less, than it did before. My husband isn’t spending eight hours mowing the lawn every other week (true story).
Our kids play better together with the fewer toys than they did in a gigantic house with toys on every level. My stress level has exponentially decreased because I am not hellbent on keeping five huge bedrooms, a formal living room, a regular living room, a dining room, a kitchen and a finished basement clean all the time. I’m not picking up toys from every crevice and I’m not spending hours trying to figure out how to decorate that space that no one really sees but seems really important to me.
Although I loved our beautiful 4,500-square-foot home nestled in the backwoods of Virginia, I can say for certain now that I wouldn’t go back. Bigger doesn’t always mean better, and in military life I feel like having less stuff is the way to go. After all, that means you just have less boxes to unpack at your next duty station.Subscribe to Military Spouse's Weekly Newsletter