Battling Clutter

One of the biggest battles we face living in a small space, is clutter. When we moved in last March and when we moved back in, in December, it seemed like we were covered in boxes and bags.

One drawback to small space living is lack of storage. You really have to think about what you have and what you need verses the available space you have.

Now, campers do have storage boxes, some that you can access from either inside or outside access panels, some that are only accessible from outside, but the size and shape of what you’re storing matters since it has to fit in them.

When we moved into the camper, I was very thankful for the years I’d spent following the Flylady system. Because of her, I had already released a lot of clutter. Had I not already been used to, and involved in, the process of doing this, it would have been much harder. I can say with complete honesty that if you’re planning to move into a small space, it’s always best to start going through things, and getting rid of things, as early as possible. The truth is, no matter how much you get rid of in advance, you’re going to find yourself with more than is going to fit in a small space anyway. You’ll go through the process again as you’re moving in.

Our weakness with clutter has always been sentimental decorative pieces. We love dragons and had quite the collection when we moved into the camper, counting them among some of the things we “just couldn’t part with”. I envisioned some small shelves in the living room for them or something along those lines.

When we moved in, the living room was so small that there really wasn’t any floor space for shelves and the walls are all windows, so no space there either. They ended up nearly piled on top of each other in the little space we did have and didn’t look attractive at all.

We ended up going through them again and got rid of most of the collection. It was hard, but it was necessary.

Another concession I had to make was with our altar. Before, I’d had a rather large, working altar. There’s no room here for something like that, so the altar pieces are now scattered around the house and if I need to do something, I gather up what I need at the table or do simple workings, which works just fine as well.

Neither of these things were concessions I originally wanted to make, but to make this lifestyle work, it had to be done or we’d have spent every day tripping over things and you do that enough in a small space as it is.

Now that the original clutter has been handled (mostly – no body is perfect), what we have to be careful of is bringing new things in. We’re pretty “wall-to-wall”, so I’m constantly asking “where are we going to put that”.

A perfect example was the purchase of the much-needed propane heater. During the winter, it’s already a little in the way, but we deal with it because we’re using it. In the summer, it’ll need to be put away, out of the way. We had to decide how and where it will be stored when it’s not in use. So, every item we bring home has to go through this, even if it’s something we need.

Multi-use and multi-purpose items work best. Like the camp shower. When not in the bathroom being used for it’s intended purpose, it hangs in the kitchen to be used for rinsing dishes and washing hands. It gets used all day, every day, and we love things that work like that. When we fix the plumbing and no longer need it, it can either be folded small for storage or given to our son-in-law who loves to camp out. This was something we discussed in the store before we bought it.

The truth is, clutter can easily take over your life and home no matter the size space you live in. “If you don’t love it, or use it, let it go”-Flylady website. Those are words we live by!

Crystal ~TTH

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Why Do You Live Like That?

Our choice of lifestyle is something that’s been on my mind a lot in the last few months, and not just because we moved back in the camper.

I’ve felt like our lifestyle was called into question recently and while in the end, it didn’t change anything, it did make me pause to consider why we live this way.

The camper actually began less as a choice and more of a necessity. Living with others isn’t a good situation for us because I don’t like other people’s rules or them having all the control over what is and isn’t ok.

In order to be close enough to the kids to visit often and help them if they needed it, it left us with a very small area to work with.

Almost all the power in this area is run by the same company and several years ago, my “sister” and her husband stayed with us in the last place we personally rented in this area. It was the end of summer, they hit a rough patch and we wanted to help them.

The central unit had been stripped for the copper tubing and the landlady decided to put in one large window unit instead of fixing the central. My “sister’s” husband is a welder by trade and felt like because he worked in the heat all day, he shouldn’t have to be the least bit hot when he came home, so that window unit ran nearly 24/7.

Because of their personal bills, we didn’t ask them to help with the household bills. We decided to try to carry it on our own, but a window unit running constantly can rack up quite the power bill.

When we ended up with a bill for over $1000, we couldn’t come up with it and the power got turned off. Instead of repaying our attempt to help them by helping us in return, they moved out the same day leaving us with a power bill we couldn’t pay, no power and a teenager in the house.

I still owe that power bill. I’ve never been able to afford to pay it off and as a result, we can’t get power in our name here and if a place runs a credit check (like we ran into where we were staying), we get turned down even to rent a place with utilities included.

It was recently brought to my attention by the same “sister” that she couldn’t live how and where I’ve lived. Guess it’s a good thing no one ever left her with a huge bill she couldn’t pay or she might find herself in the same situation with very few options, especially if you don’t have family to help you out.

Since deciding on moving into the camper back in March, it’s taken on different meanings, though. Now, it’s not so much that we have to, but more that we choose to.

It’s a simpler lifestyle. You really have to look at the things you accumulate and ask yourself “do I need that” and “where will I put it”.
There’s more motivation to be outside since it seems like half your life is in your yard.

It makes you more aware of the resources you use and how much of it you’re using.

It lends itself to the idea of living more in tune with nature and the passing seasons since there are more things to do to prepare for different weather conditions.

Because we choose to live without TV, we rely on each other for company and entertainment. It’s a lifestyle that’s made us define our roles and to count on each other to fulfill those roles.

We’ve also found that while similar in some ways to main-stream life, we can get by with a lot less than you feel like you need in other lifestyles and still feel fulfilled at the end of the day.

Money seems to go further because our need of it is less.

Luckily, I’ve never really been a money hungry person. I’ve always considered it an evil necessity more than anything else.

I didn’t marry for money. Paul was living on soldiers pay in the Army when I meet him and he’s never been rich. Where I come from, there’s a name for people who marry for money. We call them “gold-diggers” and that’s something I never wanted to be.

So although our lifestyle may have begun from necessity, it’s not that way now.

Being away for six months, especially after staying with my “sister”and her husband and then living in a hotel, taught me to appreciate the simple life we have here. Coming back was more of a relief than I would have imagined it could be and I know now that this is where I want to be.