Now that life is finally slowing into a routine, I can find a bit of time to blog about stuff I wanted to  share with you when we were living it last year- the prepping for this great adventure.

The hardest and best part of this whole process was the purge. Our whole family seems to get angry when we are surrounded by too much clutter, and the year leading up to our move was a cluttered, angry, chaotic mess. I was able to mostly maintain a system of keeping up with school papers and toys and kids clothes until the spring of 2016 when I found out I was expecting our 4th baby, who was a total surprise.

Pair a somewhat difficult pregnancy with another round of postpartum anxiety, and for the next year and a half, the systems fell apart, the closets became over stuffed, things didn’t get put back in their place, and it was all so overwhelming.

Each kid was allotted one medium sized packing box for stuff to bring into the RV and one large box for stuff to go into our storage unit. Then I went through everything else, and put a few things in their memory boxes, and nearly everything else was donated.

In fact, I’d say 90% of the stuff in our house that didn’t end up in the RV or storage was donated. Either to friends and family or to charitable organizations, or offered up for free on Black Friday on our driveway in our Everything Is Free garage sale.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like we couldn’t use the money, but it was simple math. The amount of time it would take to sell all of it didn’t make up for the money we’d lose from allocating our (mainly my) work time to manage the sale of nominal items.

Also? We really didn’t own a lot of expensive stuff. A lot of our furniture was built by Scott (and that’s all in storage), found on Craigslist and at yard sales, or from IKEA. The only really nice pieces we had that didn’t wind up in storage went to my mom’s vacation rental.

There were a few things I managed to sell online in the months leading up to our move that brought in about $500, I think.

Once I let go of the pressure to MAKE LOTS OF MONEY with the stuff we were ridding ourselves of, life didn’t just get easier, it was exciting and heartwarming. I loved finding pieces in the house and wondering who could really use it. I texted a lot of friends and family and offered up things I thought they’d find joy in (always with the explicit instructions to please say no to me if they didn’t want it).

All of this stuff that was weighing us down and making us miserable became a bunch of blessings to people we knew and strangers we didn’t.

For example: A girl asked to buy a grouping of books I had listed on the Facebook market place. She was preparing for her first year teaching and she needed to stock her library. Would I consider $8 instead of $10? I told her to please leave her money at home and asked if I could instead gift her a huge moving box full of children’s books, art supplies, and toys (many brand new and unopened from a stash I kept on hand for birthday gifts). She was thrilled, and my heart was full when she drove off with it.

We also had the incredible opportunity to gift so much of our stuff to someone truly in need when a dear friend told me about a woman her church was helping. She had nothing but an air mattress in her house. We helped men from her church load a flatbed trailer with enough to fully furnish her living room, dining room, and bedroom. It was the best feeling ever, especially watching our kids help load the truck and explaining to them what a great thing this would be for someone else who could really put all of this stuff to use.

I certainly understand that many people who are beginning this lifestyle need to squeeze every penny out of what they have on hand, and they have the time to set up yard sales and manage online sales. There is nothing wrong with that. More power to you, if this is you!

But if, like us, you are stressed out wondering how you will find the time to sell things, I encourage you to really think about purging in a couple ways. First, does the time it will take justify the money you will make and the money you could be making spending your time elsewhere? Second, can your stuff bring others joy and opportunity? Are you in a position to provide that to others?

As much as we like to think that stuff is just material, it’s sentimental for so many of us. Purging and downsizing can be a highly emotional journey. It’s exhausting, and can be heartbreaking, but it can also be freeing and bring you fulfillment.

Don’t let the purge scare you. Embrace it.