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When I got my first place, I didn’t think about how to set up house in an intentional, movement-oriented way.
Over the past 5 years, I’ve moved around quite a lot. First to an apartment. A self-proclaimed wannabe minimalist (sounds good on paper but the follow through is a little iffy), I filled half of a pickup truck with all of my belongings. I didn’t even have a bed, just an air mattress. My 2 story, 2 bedroom apartment felt very empty. More like a cave than a home. Next came my husband. His stuff came into the apartment. It began to feel a lot more livable. Suddenly, I felt like there was more stuff than I knew what to do with! About a year after we married, we bought a house. That apartment that I barely had enough stuff to make feel like an actual residence had burst at the seams and managed to fill an entire moving truck.
Two years after that, we relocated from Oregon to a 950-sq. foot rental in Montana. I spent a month combing through each room before we had to move to minimize what we were taking with us across three state lines. Now, five months after moving to Montana, we’ve purchased a house and we are putting down roots a mere 45 minutes away from my mom. I don’t think we’re moving again anytime soon! (That makes me so happy.) All along this journey, hopping to and fro, I’ve set up house quite a few times. Each with more ease than the last. After all, practice makes perfect.
Here’s a few things I’ve come to learn.
I’ll be honest, this one is just about reducing clutter before you move anything! It will make setting up your house much easier, trust me!
As you were packing for your move, did you notice multiples of the same item? I’m sure several things come to mind. I recall cleaning products in three separate areas of our house and for the life of me, while I was packing up, I couldn’t figure out why. I’m not talking about bathroom products in the bathroom, kitchen products in the kitchen, etc. I found the same sets of items in 3 different places. As far as I can figure, at some point I thought it would be more convenient to have it in place #1 in the house, then if that place ran out, I’d check #2, the garage; then if that place ran out, I’d check #3, the basement. Sigh. Amateur.
Lesson learned. Don’t waste money on multiple sets of the same items unless absolutely necessary. (I’ll give you 2-3 sets of sheets per bed and multiple pairs of scissors. Anything else I’ll have to think on.)
Unpack right away
I opened and went through every box within a week of moving into the new Montana home. I did the same thing with the first house that we moved into after we were married. Back then, we had our closing date and I set the Housewarming party for about a week after that. Personally, I know that if I don’t have a deadline to work toward, it will never get done.
It drives me nuts to have boxes of items sitting out in storage for years on end. You might as well just donate it if you’re never going to use it! Of course, that might just be my minimalist tendencies talking.
Taking the time to unpack right away, while the excitement of the new home and what your life is going to be in it, is still fresh, uses that momentum for good! Get your movement in right away! Put that excess energy to good use and set up house right from the start, instead of drudging through one box a month until the end of your days. You don’t even have to put things in their forever homes, just get it out and set in a usable fashion. It doesn’t have to be perfect! You’ll adjust things as you get used to living in a new place, with a new routine.
Trust me, you’ll be thankful you’re not digging through boxes at 2 in the morning because your smoke detector won’t stop blaring and you can’t find your 9-volt batteries to replace the one that died. This literally just happened to me this past week. My husband went right to the batteries and we were back to bed within a few minutes. (I did have a few flashbacks to that Friends episode where Phoebe has an encounter with a fire alarm. “What do you want from me!?”)
Centralize items instead of setting up convenience stations
Lesson #2 from “Removing Multiples!” If I had one place for these items to call home and never move from, I would know exactly where to find the items I need and when they needed replacing.
I now have a closet dedicated to cleaning supplies and I always know where to go for them!
I also always know where to go for pens and scissors and batteries and cards. They have one home and they don’t move. And if my husband doesn’t remember that, he gets a little talking to.
A place for everything, and everything in its place. – Benjamin Franklin
Now, it is slightly less convenient to have to go all the way from the bathroom at the south end of the house to the cleaning closet at the north end of the house, however, I now am moving from Point A to Point B, and back to Point A with items in tow, I do my cleaning, then I bring them back to Point B and put them away. So much more movement than before!
Instead of just reaching beneath a cabinet and hoping I have everything and nothing has run out, doing my thing, and going to sit on the couch and watch TV, I’ve now walked a bit, lifted a bit and I have the space underneath of my sink to use for toilet paper and band aids instead of chemicals.
I do plan to put together little cleaning caddies for each room so that when I do my jaunt from A to B, I’ll have what I need and I can easily return them to their home when I’m finished.
Think vertical movement too
As you’re trying to find homes for all of your items, don’t think about convenience. Think about how you’re going to use it every day. Is this an opportunity to build some more fitness into your day without even realizing it?
In my closet, I have baskets which store my folded clothes. I have a large basket (probably 10 lbs, filled) for my loungewear and workout gear. I have 4 smaller baskets for bras (1), panties (2), socks (3), scarves and gloves (4). Each of these weighs 3-5lbs filled. When I get dressed, I have to remove the basket, take out the item I want and return the basket to it’s home. These baskets live on a 6-foot high shelf which I have to reach over my head to remove them from and return them to. It’s movement built right in!
Before I’ve even left my room to greet the day, I’ve already lifted weights!
Store high and low
In the kitchen especially, consider how you can store the items you use most often so that you get the most benefit out of them.
Personally, I get stressed when there is a lot of clutter about, so I love a kitchen whose counters are simple, clean and clutter-free. Which means that I don’t store things on the counter and I have to find other places for the blender, the cutting board, the heavy cast-iron griddle that my husband loves to cook with – and my favorite pot can’t stay on the stove for days on end.
I ended up storing most of these items lower, and they’re heavier, so I get a nice little squat movement/bend in when I go to retrieve them or put them away. I’ve stored them in roll-out cabinets so it’s still somewhat convenient, while neat and tidy. Lighter things go in the cabinets up top (less likelihood of things crashing down on my head) and I get a step stool out from my cleaning closet (2 rooms away) when I need to get something down.
What are your favorite ways to trick yourself into moving more?
Keep an eye out for the next post in this series next week!