Monday, 2 June 2014

Being a minimalist with an autistic child.....

We live in a 17 ft by 23 ft apartment. I wouldn't say it's too small. I actually enjoy us all in close proximity cause it's easier to keep an eye on both children and brings the family together. What bothers me is the accumulation of stuff. I think I've always been that way though. When I moved out of my house and into my own place I never had so much that I needed a U haul. As I came into being an adult my accumulation got smaller and smaller. I hated the hassle of having to pack so much junk around. I got so used to getting rid of stuff that I realized what I needed to learn was how to not accumulate so I wouldn't have that problem. When Will and I became a couple I had a suitcase of stuff. That was it. As time passed and we realized our dreams together we moved out of his Aunties house (she's amazing by the way and we loved every minute with her. Such awesome company) into this apartment in May 2009. I love this place and it will be heartbreaking to leave in July.

Anyway. when we moved in it was the perfect size for us. We had just enough room for everything. And then in 2009 in October we found out we were pregnant with our son Keltanys. Many people had questioned if we would move and find a bigger space. I was never keen on moving since I have been a nomad most of my life, I wanted to stay in one spot for longer than just a year. So, whenever anyone would kindly offer us something bigger we declined. Time moved on and we still found that we enjoyed the space. All three of us fit comfortably. We have one room a small living room a kitchen and a bathroom. We were happy. We did start to notice that stuff was piling up so we scaled down appropriately now and then. We did many purgings and took a lot of stuff to Raven Recycling's free store. After two years of having our son we scaled down even more and realized that a lot of stuff we bought or received as a gift before our son was born we never used.  Then in the spring of 2013 we found out we were expecting a second. We were thrilled and more than excited to start planning out the kids room. Everyone was convinced that we would move into a bigger place before the baby was born. When we didn't people thought we were nuts. I didn't want to move and still have a hard time wanting to now as school in B.C. looms in the distance.

In order to prepare for our daughter Will and I did some serious soul searching about materialism and what really matters. We bought e-readers, signed up for library cards (we're bookaholics), and read Annie Leonard's "The story of Stuff." We were determined to not accumulate anymore. In late October we had a baby shower and we received so many clothes it was amazing. What I did to make sure that clothes got cycled through appropriately, was to sort them according to size and pack the bigger clothes away. In November my daughter was born. As we got used to being a family of four in our 17 ft by 23 ft apartment, I realized it was time to minimize even more. My daughter, Eltiyena had so many clothes she could start her own department store. A lot of it was clothes she grew out of. So I went through her clothes that did fit and kept 6 pant, 6 shirts, 3 onsies, 3 sleepers, 3 jackets, 2 dresses, and a packet of socks. 3 stockings, 1 pair of shoes. I also kept one box of clothes that didn't fit yet so I didn't have to buy any when she grows out of what she has. That being said if something doesn't fit in that box it goes. I was a little liberal with her amount of clothing cause she's creative in the way she messes a diaper. he he.

As for my son. How do you go about minimizing things from a kid with repetitive and sensory needs. It was easy for us because he loves interaction now. So, anything that I play with with him usually gets put away after we're done playing, and that amount of stuff we play with together is small. He values interaction, over singular purposed toys. So, we bought an ottoman with a lid 15 in by 15 in and 15 in tall. Stuck all the toys we've seen him play with, and enjoy, into that thing and what ever didn't fit we got rid of (He has a bin of stuffies to that he shares with his sister). As for clothes. 5 Pants, 6 shirts, 2 jackets, 2 sweaters, 6 pairs of socks, 6 pairs of underwear, and 1 pair of shoes.

For my husband 3 Shorts, 3 pants, 9 shirts, 2 hoodies, 1 sweater, 7 boxers, 7 pairs of socks and 1 pair of shoes.

For me. he he. 5 pants, 6 shirts, 2 hoodies, 6 unmentionables, 3 upper unmentionables, 1 skirt, 7 pairs of socks, and 1 pair of shoes.

The collective of our clothing can fit into dresser with 4 drawers.

When we move a lot of furniture will get sold. And when we arrive at our destination we won't even have half of what we had here. We have still got a ways to go in terms of our one closet and what it holds. It's not full to the brim but I would like to have it so that when I walk in to our place what I see is what we have. It takes time and practice to get used to being without so many things that take up space. I love open space. So does my Son. He loves to run. So, it's been easy for him and me. And since we have been on this journey we've learned to appreciate the things we have, and we also have come to know the things that really matter to us. They are the memories we make that are important to us. Anytime we laugh together, any time we make it through the hard times together, seeing each other light up at the fireworks on the 1st of the year and 4th of July. Watching Keltanys discover the world around him. Seeing him light up when his favorite songs are turned on for him. Seeing him run through the forest and laugh as he goes.  Watching Eltiyena take her first steps and listening to her first words. Those are the things that matter to us.

Our goal is to own a small parcel of land and order, from this great place in Maryland called Hobbitat Spaces, a home that is as big as the place we're in now, but with a loft. We will have our own garden and do a lot of homesteading.

Every step we take now is towards that future. And we while we can't wait, we revel in the journey because along the way we can look back and see that nothing is impossible. Will and I started with nothing and have come so far. But that is a story for a different day.

Can you minimize and live in a small space as a family of four? Yes. Can it be done with a kid on the autism spectrum. With determination anything is possible and we are living proof that it absolutely can be done.

Anyway, if you have any questions about minimizing or living in a small cozy space, just leave them in the comments section below. As always thank you for reading.

See ya tomorrow.

With Gratitude,
Amber Jones

P.S. Link to Hobbitat Spaces of you're interested. ;-)


  1. I checked these out the Hobbitat Spaces I really like these ones South by Southwest and Luna Blue but would definitely need a bath tub or maybe a hot tub outside.

  2. They are pretty awesome. You can fit a tub in them. They customize them to your needs. We can't wait to purchase ours!