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Let the stuff go, baby!

We’re down to the final week in our house. We’ve entered that painful stage of moving where living in our house is no longer enjoyable. You know, the one where you eat on a folding table because the dining table was sold mid-dinner. Where you nurse the baby on the floor because all the chairs have been sold. Internet ads are becoming more urgent and scream EVERYTHING MUST GO! The appliances, the furniture, the bits and bobs can’t come with us on our next adventure.

After ample deliberation, we decided to max out our sweet suitcase allowance and send just a small 40 x 48 inch (102 x 122 cm) pallet of must-haves ahead by boat. Our earthly belongings are simply not worth filling a spendy container with.

Following the initial blow that came with the transatlantic shipping quotes and deciding which items met our essential list, something wonderful happened.

We began to feel so free. Free from the stuff that we own. Free from the stuff that owns us. Free from the stuff that other people think we should own. I’m not even kidding – several people have opinions on what we should keep. In response to one listing for a bright mosaic kiddo stepping stool, a complete stranger named Molly told me off for not keeping it. When I explained we were moving across an ocean, she offered to keep it until we perhaps returned to the United States one day. She claimed I would regret selling the memories of my kids on that stool. While the offer was kind and well-intentioned, it felt not just a little presumptuous.

Nope, nope, nope. I won’t regret getting rid of it, Molly. I’m going to snap a picture to look back on the sweetness of this life stage. I’ll smile fondly and then, I shall release. I will move on, thankful with all of my heart for one less thing to take. By releasing, I’ll bring this young family one step closer to a fresh start and one step further away from the chaos.

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Methodically ridding ourselves of things that neither have a purpose nor bring us joy has been beautifully cathartic. As every item we own is placed on the chopping block, I am inspired by the extreme examples of world-schooling families, traversing the globe with a suitcase for a year of travels. I love their testimonies of how much creativity and local life they end up plugging into because they intentionally chose to travel light.

There is a cost to carry, and it isn’t just financial. Initially, extra baggage may feel stabilizing in a new place, but if we are just lugging things around in case we might need them, or much worse, because we feel guilted into taking them with us, they will act like yokes around our necks. They tie us to what once was and distract us from the goodness found in the present. They’ll gnaw away at the rest, the inward peace and slower pace we’ve so desperately longed for.

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4 thoughts on “Let the stuff go, baby!

  1. We aren’t moving any time soon (that I know of), but when I decided to stay home with my kids full-time, I got sick and tired of cleaning up and moving the same (toys, shoes, books, etc) over and over. So I rid our house of more than half of our possessions. And to tell you the truth, I have NOT regretted even one thing that I got rid of, and the benefit of living a life much less “stuff-centered” has been incredible. Great job!

    1. Hey Christa, I wish we could have met in person before our grand departure! I am in the same boat, at home with the kids most every day and it drives me absolutely bonkers. The more pieces, the more gets thrown around, the more there is to clean up. I also find that the kids play so much better with fewer, more organized toys. You certainly don’t need a move to thin out, but it is great incentive in our case and really exciting in this stage with young kids, to declutter a bit. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. We have been living in Guatemala for 10 years as missionaries (with our 4 kids 10 and under) and are moving back to the US in a month. I soo needed this because although we are definitely headed toward minimalism, this whole deciding what to take and what to let go of is stressing me out and stealing my joy. We have people inturrupting life to browse our home and tell us the things they want to buy and asking for prices on the spot. My kids are watching the things that have made up their environment for their whole lives get sold and sent away. Anyway, I just needed this perspective today. Thank you for sharing!

  3. But your baby looks so ANGRY and HURT that you sold the mosaic stepping stool. Hahahaha! This was great. Lightness is a state of mind as much as it is physical state (if not moreso) for sure. I am so excited for you.

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