Are we minimal enough?

When we left home in September, we had downsized substantially and we left behind everything we thought we could do without.  Gone was all the furniture.  Donated were all the movies and books we no longer needed (or wanted).  We made several trips to Goodwill and, unfortunately, the land fill.  We had a garage sale (with little success) and tried to give away as much as possible.

We are four months in, and we are realizing that we still are carrying too much stuff. We don’t have a home for everything and it gets frustrating being in a small space and having to step over “stuff” that’s laying on the floor. Some of it is easy to part with (extra clothing) some of it not (books) but downsize we must.

We are also constantly reorganizing and trying out different ways to pack things and have made some improvements there as well. But we constantly ask ourselves if we need this widget and are evaluating the usage of space.

The other day we spent some time cleaning and reorganizing our trailer.  We were getting overwhelmed with the clutter that was accumilating and the narrow path we had to get from one end to the other.  We didn’t get rid of much, just made some better use of the space we have.  It is truly amazing how something so small can be so burdensome.

We acquired some “stuff” over Christmas that we still need to integrate into our lives and we are continually evaluating the usefulness of everything we have. Soon there will be a trip to a donation centre and the cycle will begin anew.

A large family….whaaa??

We are a large family.  What exactly does that mean you ask?  We have more than the average amount of kids.  We have more kids than what qualifies as a family pass at the movies (generally this is four kids).  We have more kids than you can fit in the average SUV.

We have seven kids.

According to Stats Canada, in 2011 the average family in Canada had 1.1 kids.  It is amazing to note how quickly our ideas of what constitutes a large family has changed.  When our grand parents were kids, families commonly had a dozen children or more.  Now if you have more that three kids people look at you like there is something wrong with your mental state.

We chose to have lots of kids, even though our families, friends, doctors and society told us we were making a mistake.  We weathered comments of “don’t you know were babies come from?” and “how can you afford that?” and even “are you catholic or something?”.

We decided, even before we were married, that we wanted a large family.  We have been blessed beyond our expectations and would not trade any of it for anything in the world.  Is it easy?  Of course not, but anything worth having isn’t.

It is challenging.  We fail as often as we succeed.  The hardest part is to not be selfish.  To think of your family members before yourself and to put their needs above your own is extremely difficult, especially in our western society.  Everything around us screams at us to put ourselves first.  We are learning day by day to leave that behind.

Now we are a family of nine, sharing 240 square feet and one toilet. We are way beyond living in a tiny home, we are in a micro home. This forces us into a whole new dynamic and creates challenges for us to overcome. Privacy is nearly impossible, we are constantly tripping over one another and yet we are closer as a family.

We don’t know how long we are going to be living like this, but we are having the time of our lives.

Going Minimal, Going Mobile

About a year or more ago, both Laurel and I felt a strong urge to sell everything and move into our travel trailer.  As a large family this at first seemed absurd and in the realm of never gonna happen.  As time progressed, our attitudes about it began to change and we began to actively push to achieve this goal.

The first step was to start researching.  To our surprise, we found plenty of other large families living full-time in their RV’s, some larger than ours!  We became avid YouTube followers of several of these families and thoroughly enjoyed their adventures.  We got the “bug” and began to prepare.

We had to become minimalist.  This was by far the hardest step for us to take.  I personally had been hanging onto stuff since my childhood that had no use or value in my life now, but was insanely hard to part with.  But, as with most things in life, the more we parted with things, the easier it became.

We also had to put a hitch on our bus and wire it to pull our trailer.  We bought a trailer in 2010 when we had 4 kids and had hardly used it.  Now we have 7 kids and our life to fit into this thing.  We found space-saving hacks on Pintrest, we actively looked at all we had to determine if it would fit in or if it was even necessary.

Fortunately our kids were all on board for this adventure.  They downsized their own stuff and helped us to do the same.  They had lots of “practice” nights out in the trailer, waiting for the day to come.

So, on September 13, 2017 we set out on our journey.  Our trailer was packed, our bus was full, we waved goodbye to family and hit the highway at last.  Now, two weeks into this trip I am finally able to sit down and write about it.  We’ve had some adventures, we’ve met up with old friends.  We got stuck in a driveway, and enjoyed the journey.

We’ve learned lots already about ourselves, our family and our faith.  Hope to be able to share some of that with all of you.

To be Continued…