A Downsized Family Life

“I like the orange house,” I hear from my son from across the room. “Better than the green house?” I reply from my computer. “Yes,” he says. “We have more fun in the orange house.”

This conversation has played out a few times since our downsizing move from our 3000 square foot, white picket fence house with a big front porch, to our 1000 square foot Townhome an hour north. I like the orange house better too, even as they walls are vibrating from the unexpected construction in the lot just outside our window. Even though I have to be creative on cold rainy days to contain the “toy bombs” going off all over the house. I miss walking around the neighborhood lake but remember why I needed that walk so much to destress from our suburban nightmare.

You see, we were living in a suburban fantasyland complete with the white picket fence, big house, set of twins, work from home mom, and all the bills and stress that came with it. I was under so much stress; I was not the best version of myself – not even close. My poor easy going husband was exhausted from his drive and the quiet, constant stress he was under from juggling our monthly bills. We were smiling on the outside, but inside we were coming apart at the seams. Dramatic? Yes, but very, very real.

A few months of searching for more ways to make more money to keep up with our suburban fantasy and a real encounter with a friend made me decide enough is enough. This is crazy! Why the hell are we putting ourselves through this? There was a moment when I told my husband we have to move. We just cannot do this anymore. We had everything we ever wanted. Our twins were born after struggling with infertility, we were a perfect crazy match for each other, we were healthy and loved and miserable. Our happiness was hiddden beneath a gloomy film of money stress.

It was not always like this, but we have never been rolling in the dough. We had enough. My siblings all seem to have very successful (high consumer) lives, but I had not made it to that promised land.

In part because I have never gone with the norm, and because that is not how I am wired. I am not a minimalist, but having love and stability, which equals creative freedom is more important to be than the things that a 6000 square foot house can provide.

My husband always says he can live anywhere, and that is true. When we moved into that green monster, my freelance income was rolling pretty damn well. I was able to make a great living, and then a few months after we moved in, my freelance work stopped. I mean like overnight, by email. That was that. The company was restructured, and they were not using contractors while the changes were taking place.

Now what! My husband was not employed for a short while, but we weren’t worried since I had income coming in. He did land a great new job within three weeks, but it was 40+ miles away through the middle of city traffic.

This great new job began his life force draining daily commute, which on occasion could take him an hour and a half to get home. I began doing any freelance thing to make money, painting furniture to sell, a country French kitchen for a friend, a wedding florist, teaching music, freelancing consulting, you name it. I was so stressed though from money issues that frankly I was not at my best, not even close. There had to be a better way.

Things have changed so dramatically since that first day of our downsizing journey. One of my brother’s that is a financial wizard suggested that if I could overcome all of this, that I should share that knowledge with other people. I had no idea what that would look like. I started this blog, thanks to the advice from Penelope Trunk. I am learning my way through this new life and will take you along on the journey if you would like to join me.

This new way of life is an adjustment when you are used to worrying about finances and keeping up with the Joneses (whoever they are). Worry is wasted energy and takes away precious time from everything in your life. Your decisions are clouded. Eliminate as many worries as you can, and then find a way to remind yourself every day that you changed all of that. It is different now. You know better. You grew. You survived and thrived in spite of it.

This is what this downsized life is all about for me. So how about you? Are you considering a change?