A Lovely Secret of Living Small
A unique and seemingly magical secret that no one tells you, or perhaps doesn’t even realize about living small, is that nearly all your things have meaning, purpose, and life. This is especially applicable to living in a small place with kids. Hear me out.
Living small forces you to have less. Going from a large house to a small house, you’re really left to think about what you “need” to have, versus what you “want” to have. In a larger space you can get away with that scale being 50/50 or even 25 want, 75 need, but in a small house it’s the exact opposite.
So first you’re selective of what types of things you need. Must have a mixing bowl…need silverware…a chair to sit in…perhaps a kettle or coffee pot.Then comes the fun part, once you find what you use daily, you begin to replace these original items with their most durable model. You can’t afford the space to have several ‘in case one breaks’ or ‘while the dishwasher’s full’. Suddenly instead of impulse-buys at the dollar shop or department store sale, you find yourself agonizing and pondering and being critical, before you buy something. Your space is so valuable it can’t be wasted. As a result, your final selection you love. It doesn’t stay in the bag for several days before being used once then pushed to the back of the closet. No. Your new item has a purpose, it was painstakingly selected, and will probably now be a near daily part of your life.
It’s a little ironic considering that some of the motivation of living small is having less material possessions. It’s also true that large homes with many possessions aren’t devoid of memorable family heirlooms. I don’t mean to discredit any of that. But rather to point out the fact, that living in a smaller space, forces this effect of strong purpose and strong memories on nearly all the items you possess.
Before you know it, 3 years have passed and you’ve used the same single coffee mug every morning. You realize your silverware can last decades, and in one blink you’ve rocked all your children in that rocking chair. Your kids grow up with the warm memories of making cookies with you in the same large mixing bowl and waiting for the muffins to bake in the same blue ceramic pan. On hard days as adults, they can take comfort knowing you made tea on all your good AND bad days in the very same kettle. They can feel the love as they rock their children in the same rocking chair. Your things, however few they may be, now hold memories and emotions from their repeated and intentional use. It’s just like when a song comes on the radio and it reminds you of driving a specific car in high school. An equally strong memory can be conjured just by using a particular flower vase that’s held every summer dandelion and winter rose bouquet for the past 18 years.
There’s an intimacy to things.
When you die your family isn’t throwing out 5 brightly colored warped plastic bowls, or giving away 10 insignificant vases. They’re not taking a week off of work just to clean out a lifetime of things in your attic that they never even saw and that you had saved “just in case” (or maybe even you forgot they were there). No way. They’re hashing out who has more meaningful memories of the bread pan, who must have that staple unique fruit bowl, and agreeing to take turns with the rocking chair based on the years they have kids. You may be gone but pieces that were once a part of your life remain. Your memories stay trapped in those items to those who witnessed your life with you, and they remain trapped in the stories of future generations.
It’s a unintentional glimpse at the humanity of people and an effortless value of family. A simple yet beautiful side effect of living small and having less.
Hi there! I’m Kaley, prevailing parent and wife, but also just me; stubborn lover of DIY everything, outdoors, and chocolate. Read more about myself and my family under the “Parenting” > “About My Family” tabs.