It’s not always easy.
Stepping away from the norm invites judgment. In our society, especially one charged with political divide as it is, religious judgment and persecution, and continuous debate spurred from the safety of our couches, armed with a keyboard and too much wine, with the screen our shield, choosing to step away from the expected American dream is not always easy to do for fear of what everyone may say.
The insertion of opinions, however, will never be lost on those of us who choose to live alternately, to downsize, to travel. For those of us with children, we face additional judgement and often flat-out persecution for our decisions. In our case, this often comes most from folks who “know” us (quotation marks intentional), and feel that their advice is warranted and thus welcomed. We often hear the following - and I've become emboldened as of late to respond as follows:
You should do it (travel) before your children go to school, or after.
So I should've done it already - back when I was a single mom working two jobs and going to school full-time, barely making ends meet? Or I should wait until I'm in my forties to live out our family's version of a joyful, meaningful life? If this feels like the right time for us, then shouldn't we do it now? There are no guarantees in this life. No promise of tomorrow. I want to live!
I could never do that.
I'm not asking you to.
I can't believe you live in that with a kid, dog, and a cat. It's too small.
The things we don't know are always a little scary at first, and it's hard at times, but you know what I love? I love how close we all are - that we can talk late from our beds, and coffee is always just a couple steps from where we wake. I love how the line between indoors and outdoors is blurred, and I get outside more often. I love that I have less to clean and don't have a yard to take care of. I love that I can take my house anywhere, and have the comforts of home while exploring a new place. I love, I love, I LOVE.
I wish I could live with as little as you do, but I really need my ________________. But...perhaps you could help me go through my walk-in closet/garage/attic?
I'm not asking you to be like me, but I'm happy to help give you insight into how I've worked through the last three and a half years of minimizing and downsizing, from emotional attachment to pragmatic purging, if you would like me to. It'll look different from me to you to the next person, and that is one-thousand percent okay.
Silence/quick change of subject. (When I start talk about our work, our life, our tiny space, our choice to homeschool.)
I don't how what to say when this happens - yet.
For those of us who publicly share our journey to living small and minimizing, our hope is that we connect with others doing the same and find our community. Thankfully, most of the time, that’s exactly what happens when we share online about living tiny with a family - we find our people. We find support systems and folks just like us from all walks of life, experiences, stories, and vessels. These networks help strengthen the tiny living community, as well as normalize this way of life in traditional society. I believe it's incredibly important to not just know our answers to these questions, but really live them out, fearlessly.
This post was written for inclusion in the June collection of the Small Family Homes Blog Community. Read below for more writings on the truth about living small from our community of writers. Check back next month for a new topic and posts in the series and follow our community board on Pinterest for the latest small homes and family minimalism pins!
Minimalist Meg -- “The Truth About Living SMALL” : What does living in a small space look like for a family of 4? Probably not a whole lot different from you.
Little Bungalow-- "Less Space, More Happiness" : In a small home, less space doesn’t equal more happiness. Except, of course, when it does.
600 Square Feet and a Baby-- "The Truth About Living in a Small Family Home" : Living small as a family of four is sometimes uncomfortable, a bit awkward and never boring. Sharing the awkward and imperfect of living small with 4 humans that you always wanted to know (or maybe you didn't.)
Shelley Vanderbyl-- "Five Things You Don't Need in a Small Home" : Gatekeeping is about recognizing what things you don't need or want, and trying to keep those objects from coming into your home.
The Streamlined Life-- "The Truth About Living Small: Less Possessions, Greater Value": Just because you're a minimalist family doesn't mean you aren't sentimental.
The Justice Pirate-- "What Small Home Living is Like" : No matter if I lived in a cardboard box or a small home, I just like being with my family, who are my home.
Our Nest in the City-- "The Truth About Living in a Small Family Home" : My post gives three challenges to living in a small home with our family of five, and counters them with three ways we "cope" and thrive despite it all :)
Fourth and West-- "You Can't Have it All" : Small space living requires compromise and sacrifice.
RISING*SHINING-- "The Truth About Living in a Small(ish) Family Home" : A smaller home is why we're able to live such a full life.
Family At Sea-- "The Meaning of Space: Thoughts from a Former Tiny Home Mom" : After moving onto a boat, I thought the hard work of decluttering and downsizing was done, but I didn't realize that living in a tiny space was the beginning of the real work of the soul.
Real Food Simple Life-- "The Realities of Living in a Small Home with a Big Family" : A look into the benefits and challenges that a family of 6 (going on 7) experiences living together in an 800 square foot home in Scotland.
Tiny Ass Camper-- "I Didn't Know Tiny Living Was For Me" : My thoughts on the give and take of living tiny.
Family Pedals-- "Location Trumps Size" : The truth is, it has been our home's location--not size--that has determined our happiness in a given space.