We Have Too Much Crap: When Downsizing is Right-Sizing


This post is eighth in the series on my family’s decision to downsize. Links to previous posts can be found at the end of this article.

So you’ve decided to downsize. Whether it’s for financial reasons, peace of mind, an ego check, simplifying your life, or moving to a neighbourhood that better suits you, sooner or later you will have to deal with the fact that WE HAVE TOO MUCH CRAP.

We do! All of us! Whether it’s 8 sets of salt and pepper shakers, 6 different kinds of salad bowls (I mean, how many different salads can you possibly serve at one time?), 16 boxes of pictures from before you had facial hair, exercise equipment to focus on “the new you” that you ordered 5 years ago while watching late night TV and snuggling with a pizza, your soccer uniform from when somersaulting on the field was more fun than kicking the ball, or 24 cans of leftover paint (omg, did I really paint the house that many times?)…

WE HAVE TOO MUCH CRAP.

We were going from a 2600 sq ft house to an 1800 sq ft one. We were losing a double garage, a living room, a dining room, and some basement space. So, as logical people, we sold and gave away most of our living room and dining room furniture (and many of the things the furniture in those rooms held). We consolidated our keepsakes (one bin per decade of life on this planet is the rule around here), sold or gave away old bikes, cleared out the old paint cans and electronics by making multiple trips to the eco drop-off for hazardous waste (pretty sure they knew me by name there), sold the trampoline, threw out stuff that was no longer useful to anyone — I originally wrote that as “threw UP stuff that was no longer useful” ? — and basically looked at everything we owned with a new filter, trying to place it in our new home.

And despite this, all of this work, which began about 6 months before we actually moved…

WE STILL HAD TOO MUCH CRAP.

At one point, we ran out of time and space and began just sort of throwing random items from the garage and the basement into boxes. And, for the love, how in the world do you pack a milk crate full of random cables? Also, WHY DO WE HAVE A MILK CRATE FULL OF RANDOM CABLES?!

Pro tip: If you’re leaving the garage and basement for last, because you think that stuff can just sort of be thrown in, think again. These are the two most difficult areas to physically pack…and first you have to be ruthless because WE HAVE TOO MUCH CRAP.

The day of the move, the movers we had hired with their ginormous moving truck announced after several hours of sweat and hard work that they were full and were leaving for the new house. The only problem was THE HOUSE WAS STILL FULL OF CRAP. I am not kidding you. They said, “OK we’re full,” and closed up the doors, and we’re like, “But we’ve still got 12 plants, 15 boxes, a milk crate full of cables, and a basketball net!” I can still see my husband driving his Jeep to the new house with the roof down and 4 random plants sticking out the top. ?

Pro tip: Love on your neighbours with mini-vans who are willing to help you bring over “the last little bit”…in 7 or 8 trips. (Thank you, Lori!)

And once we moved, we lived like the Clampetts from the Beverly Hillbillies for about two weeks with personal possessions strewn about the yard and driveway because it wouldn’t all fit into the house. I kid you not! The Clampetts! In our new neighbourhood! Because our crap would not all fit into the house!

It did not rain for two weeks after we moved, and for that I will be forever grateful because it gave us time to get rid of stuff — stuff we had just PAID to have moved — so that we could work on getting all of our possessions INTO the actual house. Two weeks, people. The Clampetts.

Pro tip: If you think you have gotten rid of enough crap, you are wrong. If you think you’ve downsized your possessions enough, you are wrong.

Extra pro tip: If you think it’s OK to write the location of where the box should go for the movers simply on the TOP of the box and not on the side, and that it’s OK that written on the side is where the previous person who was moving and used that box had written where that box should go during THEIR move and you don’t need to scratch that out, or write over it, YOU ARE WRONG. Ahem.

Extra, extra pro tip: If you are the person who caused the above calamity and your wife is cursing you because there are 4 boxes of dishes in the upstairs bathroom, 5 boxes of clothing in the living room, 3 boxes of assorted caulking (!) and caulking guns in the kitchen, and a milk crate of random cables in the master bedroom, and this is THE day that your business takes off so you let her deal with the mess while you sit there typing away on your computer, and yet you are still married, then you married a fine woman. Ahem.

Sorry for all the yelling. But really, WE HAVE TOO MUCH CRAP. We all do.

And sooner or later, someone is going to have to deal with it.