Personal Story

We’re Downsizing From a House to an Apartment to Upsize Our Life—Here’s How

why downsize to a smaller home"
why downsize to a smaller home
Source: Shutterstock
Source: Shutterstock

I grew up playing dress-up, house, and mom to my 54 baby dolls, always dreaming of having a quaint little house in one of the unique neighborhoods nestled between Downtown Dallas and the suburbs. I couldn’t wait to make a house a home, decorate with my favorite things, live out my Pinterest dreams, and tap into the many Nancy Meyers movies I binge-watch when I’m stressed.

So, when I got married, had kids, and moved into our house—all within three years of graduating college—I didn’t really get to settle into the exploration phase of my 20s. You know, living in the middle of the city, going to every new restaurant opening, and walking to get a $7 latte every morning. Although I grew up in Downtown Dallas and went to school in the heart of the city, I never thought I’d miss it when I became a mom, but I was wrong.

Deciding to Downsize

The first time you move into a new house, you’re in the honeymoon phase. The little creak in the floor is just some “added character,” and that $2,000 plumbing bill when the pipe bursts after a storm, well, that’s just “an investment.” But for my husband and me, we quickly felt like something was missing after we settled into our house. We weren’t enjoying the life we had so meticulously designed. So, when an offer came for my husband to be stationed in the city for work, we decided that at the end of this year, we would pack up our three-bedroom, two-bathroom spacious family home and downsize into a city apartment with two bedrooms for us and our two young daughters.

Although I’m nervous about downsizing to a smaller home, I’m so excited to be able to go to a show at the last minute, utilize the green spaces, and grab the wagon for a walk around the city. For some, this may seem like downsizing our entire life, but for us, it means downsizing our space so we can upsize our life. There will be no more 35-minute commutes or being stuck in traffic for hours during the week. Although we may be losing space, we will be gaining time, community, memories, and so much more.

Over the next six months, we will be preparing for the big move. Here is how our family is preparing to downsize to a smaller home.

Decluttering and Organizing

The first step to preparing not just my girls but our entire family is to figure out what we can donate, recycle, or get rid of. It’s amazing how tiny humans can accumulate more stuff than both my husband and I combined. With consumption at an all-time high, we have an overabundance of clothes, toys, and random items that we don’t always use. My first goal is to take inventory of everything we have, from clothes to dishes, and then figure out what we want to take and what we need to take, trying to align them.

Finding the right balance between what we want and what we need

It’s easy to want your kids to have everything for pretend play or educational activities. Even when I declutter, it feels like the amount of things kids need and want is endless. My goal is to find the right balance between having everything they need and a few things they want. We can manage this by doing toy rotations, upcycling toys, trading toys with friends, and relying on places like the library, splash pads, and parks to keep the kids entertained.

The second part of decluttering and organizing is making sure not to buy more stuff after getting the house clean and organized. I struggle with seeing things from momfluencers and thinking they will make my life easier and more organized when really, they just add more stuff to my life and probably end up tattered or in the trash in six months. It’s tempting to fill up a clean and freshly empty basket or corner of the room with more stuff just a few weeks later. My goal is to stop that. By having a clear and defined place for everything, a plan for what each thing is used for, and making sure I declutter two things for every one thing that I buy, I’m hoping that this round of decluttering will stick!

Getting My Kids Excited to Share a Room

When we found out we were having another girl, my immediate thought was that we needed to find a house with a bedroom for each child, a good backyard, and enough bathrooms for all of us. So, before my second daughter was born, we moved into a bigger place. I was thrilled to decorate each room to reflect both of my girls’ different personalities, likes, and interests as they grew older.

However, as the first year with two girls has come and gone, I’ve realized that they prefer bringing all of their toys into my and my husband’s room or transferring their toys and clothes into each other’s rooms. My youngest thinks her big sister is the most amazing person and tries to crawl into her bed at night. My oldest alternates between treating her younger sister as a personal baby doll or assistant, depending on the day.

downsize to shared bedroom
Source: @loree.1

Doing a few practice rounds

When we started looking at options for apartments or condos in the city, we were nervous about moving them from their own rooms to a shared space. This summer, since my husband and I have clearer work schedules, we are excited to give them a practice round of sharing a room. Every night, we ask them if they’d like to share a room and how we can ensure they are seen and heard in the way we decorate and set up the space. My 3-year-old is very vocal about needing a space for all her dolls, princess dress-up wardrobe, and two very fluffy pillows. I think my 1-year-old is just happy to be around her sister.

Protecting their individuality with bedroom decor

We’ve been reimagining what it looks like to create a shared space for our daughters while still protecting their individuality. The ideas we’ve come up with have not only allowed us to express creativity as a family but also provided healing for me when reflecting on my own childhood. Realizing that a space can be anything with the right furniture, decor, books, intentionality, and setup makes me hopeful that the transition will be smooth and positive for my girls.

Exploring The City and Finding Community In Advance

Of course, there’s fun in spontaneity and exploring the city once we move in. However, being a mom makes you feel the need to be prepared for everything, even when you’re supposed to be “going with the flow” (which, by the way, I don’t even know what that means anymore). So, we will be “pre-exploring” and trying to find a community in advance so that when we move in, we can maximize our time enjoying the city and all it has to offer.

When you move to a new place or, in this case, adopt a new way of living, it’s important to find peace and stability in a few things. Whether it’s a go-to restaurant for dinner or a reliable park, having these familiar anchors can make the transition smoother. I’m using the last part of this year to identify those key places before we even get the keys to our new apartment. I want to know where to go if it’s raining, which grocery stores are the most accessible, which times of the year events might impact my girls’ sleep, what holiday activities are available, and what kind of community we can build. These preparations don’t just help me function better as a mom; they help me create a home out of wherever I’m living.

Final Thoughts on Downsizing Our Home

To have a life of “luxury,” you don’t necessarily need a 5,000-square-foot house or a new car every year. Your kids don’t need the latest toys every week or designer-labeled clothes. Creating a home and a life of luxury doesn’t have to mean upsizing material things. Upsizing your life can mean different things to different people. For us, it’s maximizing our quality time, memories, and activities with our girls. It’s also giving us the freedom to enjoy life and not feel like our lives have to stop or drastically change to embrace parenthood. We can be amazing parents and still find time to invest in ourselves, our marriage, and our interests. I know that I can create a home out of any space because I will create a space where love exists and is infinite. No amount of downsizing can ever take that away.

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