The Art Of Downsizing (Big Family, Small Living, Vol. 1).

We are excited to introduce a new category called “Small Living” to Confessions Of A Parent. This past year we were convicted to start living smaller, even though we have a big family. A couple of times a month, Kristin is going to share different moments and highlights from our experience of living small with a big family!

Here’s a question: Do we need all the material stuff we have? The answer is, we don’t. Even though we label certain possessions a need, we really just want them. The problem for most people is that they have their needs and wants confused. That’s what we discovered last year!

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This year we decided to make a big change. Our family was living in a 4000sq foot 6 bedroom house. Seven years earlier we had left behind a modest 3 bedroom farm house for what we hoped would be a better future. We had acquired everything we thought we needed but we were lacking the most vital thing, our relationship with one another.

We were in the midst of a “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality. Slowly we were becoming aware that the Joneses didn’t exist and if they did they would be as miserable as we were becoming. We had lost touch with one another. In an effort to copy the American dream we had lost touch with the dream that our family was founded on, each other. One day in early January in the midst of 14 straight days of blinding snow, we sat around the kitchen table enjoying each other’s company. Mike and I looked at each other and said. What if we change? What if we could go back? As it turned out God’s timing was and always is perfect. We still owned the tiny farm house and our renters were planning to move in a few short months. We both took a deep breath as we looked around at what we would be leaving behind and agreed, “let’s do it!”


So we went from this… this

…to this

Over the next few months we started to get excited about this new adventure. The first step was to purge! And purge we did. Along the way we gave so much stuff away, and sold so many belongings, we actually lost count of how many van loads.

Here are just a few of our downsizing moments.

We took over 100 bags to Goodwill.

We took over 100 bags to Goodwill.

We lived by the motto: If you don’t use it or love it ~ get rid of it!

The third trip to Hazardous Waste Disposal. Seriously, did we really think we  were going use all this old paint?

The contents of one of our three trips to Hazardous Waste Disposal. Seriously, did I really think I was going use all this old paint?

One of the highlights of this project was finding out that some friends of ours were starting the process of adoption. They needed items for a fundraiser. We had just the ticket: a quad stroller and about 100 more bags of stuff!

$500 quadruple stroller, glad not to be in that phase of parenting anymore!

$500 quadruple stroller, glad not to be in that phase of parenting anymore!

Purging was just the beginning of this new adventure as a family. With each item we let go of, the freedom began to fill us.

In Matthew 6:20, Jesus says, “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moths and vermin do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Question: Do you have a big family? Or, have you done what we recently did and downsized? Share your story! You can leave a comment by clicking here.



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  • Sara A

    We have a large family and the downsizing (into the same home actually) was a HUGE blessing!!! We learned so many lessons based on the scripture mentioned above (and more)! I’ll always remember, while throwing away things that were ruined by the flooded basement, how stupid we were to be holding onto those objects in the first place. We obviously didn’t need them if they were down there gathering dust and spiders! Of course I cried and probably threw a little tantrum, but after it was all cleaned up and God kept throwing that verse at me I knew we were better off!! After downsizing we have since moved into a larger home, and I ask myself almost daily why?

    • Love it! Sounds like another downsize is in your future eh?? 🙂

    • Kristin Berry

      Isn’t this little house great:) Our downsize actually started with a basement flood too. Believe me there was weeping and gnashing of teeth when that happened!

  • We are a family of 5 and some times we still foster so we can be 6. We
    live in a smaller 3 bedroom, 1 bath home. Our boys room together and can
    only take in a girl foster as they will sleep in my daughters room with
    her. We struggle with the room and I often wish for a bigger place so
    the we spread out but after reading this it just makes me thankful that
    we have what we have. I also purge and just got rid of three bags of
    clothes that we donated, it feels good to get rid of the things you just
    do not use. I will be doing this soon with the kids stuff as I want
    them to learn about donating as well. Thanks for the gentle reminder on
    what is important. Be Blessed.

    • Debra, well done on the purge. Definitely not easy but so worth it. Thanks for sharing!

    • Kristin Berry

      Debra, thanks for sharing! In our large home we were able to foster as many as 10 children at once. It was great for a while but I’m so thankful we have the smaller space now. It’s so freeing 🙂

  • Christine

    How many children do you have and how many square feet in your new home? Do you have 1 or 2 bathrooms? I ask because we are a family of 9 with our 10 th family member on the way and we live in about 1500 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths. I have found multi-use items are a major key to survival in a small space. My kiddos each have a treasure box of their personal belongings, if it doesn’t fit, it has to go! Honestly, we are in an small home because of finances. We preferred to buy a home with 3 wooded acres so that our kids can explore and enjoy the outdoors, but we could not afford both land and a roomy house together! I am glad to see some people are choosing to downsize even though they can afford a bigger home… I feel more like a small house pioneer, than a small house martyr now!!

    • Hey Christine, we have 8 children and our new house (well, now lived in a year) is around 1900 SF. It also has 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. We really believe in only having things in our home that we use. Our kids also have their own little boxes with their belongings. They have never complained or begged us for more. It’s amazing how happy life can be when you eliminate unnecessary things!

  • Jess

    We just downsized within our own home — just after having our 8th baby 🙂 — from 3 levels, down to 2. We’re renting out the basement now. I am LOVING being responsible for less space.

    A decluttering chart on the fridge has proved helpful for us– it has 2017 squares to tick off (since this is 2017), and we tick off one for each item we purge. It’s April, and we’re already over 900. So awesome to see our progress and consider: HOW did we seriously have 900 items that we don’t even MISS now? And how much more could we purge and not “miss it?”