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Last week, my husband, Tim, shared some of the reasons we chose to transition our family of eight into full time RV living. At the end of his post he mentioned a subsection in Jeff Goins’ new book, The Art of Work. This section is titled, Letting Go of What Could Have Been.
As we settle into RV living this means different things for all of us. For Tim it means moving past what he could have done with the restaurant he sold and for the kids it means trading the familiarity of our former life for new adventures.
For me, letting go of what could have been has meant giving up certain badges of honor I had unwisely and almost unconsciously given myself. It has also meant that I had to finally come to terms with certain realities of my life that I had been unwilling to discard.
It’s amazing how selling or giving away approximately ninety percent of your physical possessions can make you question who you are and what you’re doing with your life!
Getting rid of some things were no-brainers. I haven’t scrapbooked since our oldest’s baby shower. After eight years it was time (and freeing) to get rid of those supplies.
However, as silly as it sounds, packaging up all of the kids’ cookie cutters and facing the reality that baking and decorating cutout cookies in an RV wasn’t going to be practical made me stop and catch my breath. Was I taking a necessary experience away from my children?!
I had to come to grips with the fact that my kids can’t have ALL the childhood traditions and memories. It just isn’t possible, and jumping from one tradition to the next would be exhausting and stressful anyway.
One of the hardest purges for me was letting go of cloth diapering. I think God’s been preparing me for this one for over a year now.
In February 2014, Lillian, our then infant daughter developed a bad yeast diaper rash. We switched to disposables while we fought to clear up the rash. It took almost a month during which we stripped every single cloth diaper in our home.
Once we went back to cloth, she was fine for a few months then the yeast rash came back. We went back to disposables for another month. Then we had three months back in cloth. When Isabelle was born last August, we used disposables for the first month to make life easier. Since September we’ve struggled back and forth with cloth and disposables.
Once we had determined to live in an RV full time, I had to seriously look at whether it would be worth it to pack all the cloth diapers and cloth diaper accessories into our limited space and whether caring for cloth diapers was something I wanted to be part of our immediate future.
I’ll admit this was VERY difficult. I had been a cloth diapering mom for almost eight years straight. Unwisely, I let this label become part of my identity not simply a lifestyle choice. I thought cloth diapers were the best choice for my babies and I had made it happen.
But now, with the reality of severely limited space, paying for each cycle of laundry, spending every other day going back and forth to the laundry facility, and not knowing whether Lillian would need to be in disposables anyway, I had to admit that continuing with cloth diapers could be best for my babies’ bums it would not be best for our family as a whole.
I would need to sacrifice too much time and energy (time I could use to help my older kids learn to read, to take my kids on a bike ride, to enjoy a leisure stroll through the woods) in order to hang on to one aspect of parenting. I had to let go of what could have been.
Thankfully, I’ve been blessed (or cursed, depending on how you look at it) with the mindset of making a decision and then jumping into it all the way. Once I decided to give up cloth diapering, I got excited about the families I could bless with my cloth diaper stash.
We sold a lot of the diapers at our huge yard sale (for insanely low prices) and gave bag-fulls to two friends with babies due this summer.
With the rest of our belongings, I had to shut off my emotions and think practically about the space and lifestyle we were embracing. I had to let go of things trusting that God would provide if I made a wrong decision and gave away something we’d need in the future.
I had to recognize that I’d been trusting in my own planning abilities and hoarding out of fear of possible lack in the future. Purging for our RV move was a pivotal moment for me as I came face-to-face with the reality that I could not fit everything we would need for the next year in our new home.
As I continued to purge, it got better and better. It definitely helped me to be able to give some things to friends or family members. If I couldn’t keep the items myself, it was nice to know they were going to good homes 🙂
In all honesty, we didn’t get rid of everything. We have a few bins of clothes for the winter season and handmade heirlooms stored in the attics and basements of our parents.
In the end, we still brought too much with us. We’ve been in our RV full time for less than two weeks now and I’ve already removed another 3 garbage bags full of things we don’t need. Of course, since we packed and moved so quickly, we’ve also noticed a few things that didn’t make it into the RV that should have 😉 Tim and I are drinking water out of coffee mugs, for example.
All in all, the purging process was more of a heart issue for me than I thought it would be going into it. I’ve never considered myself very fearful, but I was forced to recognize the fear behind
having hoarding so much stuff.
Thankfully, I was also able to see how freeing it can be to do away with things that have caused me guilt (all the scrapbook supplies I didn’t use) or stress (trying to keep up with my cloth diaper mom status even though it was negatively affecting my ability to be a good mom in so many other ways).
Have you ever had to downsize your possessions significantly? Do you find you save things just in case you might need them in the future? Do you think it would it be freeing to get rid of certain things you’ve been holding on to? Join in the conversation by clicking the button below.