How living in a small house keeps our family more organized, less stressed, and more financially stable.
Our home can become our identity
We assume, as we move through our adult lives, that we should purchase the biggest and best house we can. We ask our mortgage broker for the magic number: how much can I afford?
The amount of our pre-approved loan dictates which houses we can look at, which neighborhood we can live in, how much pride and excitement we can feel about hosting Thanksgiving.
Realistically, how many of us look at that pre-approved number and say, “that’s too much? I don’t need that much debt. I don’t need that much house.”
More likely, we quest for the most square footage, the nicest neighborhood, the biggest yard we can find within our budget.
What does more house really buy us?
Paradoxically, our homes can be major sources of stress: we struggle to keep up with cleaning, repairs, curb appeal, mortgage payments.
Certainly we should aspire to do better. Maintaining our homes makes us feel like successful adults.
But we need to reexamine our need for more.
As I pare down our possessions to only those which add real value to our lives, as I strive to use each of our 1300 square feet of living space effectively, I feel less and less like we’re outgrowing this home. A classic three-bedroom, single-family home in a lovely neighborhood shouldn’t feel inadequate for a family of three. Or four. Or maybe even five.
I’ve watched neighbors leave our block for more space, and I’ve contemplated the things they leave behind: a short walk to several great restaurants. A built-in outdoor playgroup for the kids on almost every pleasant afternoon. A safe and friendly neighborhood. The best elementary school in the city.
Should I leave that behind so my children can all sleep in separate bedrooms while I retain another room for my office? Should I increase my cleaning, lawn, and garden time commitments when I already feel overstretched? When keeping on top of these tasks is already not my strong suit?
The gift of less
Task execution and home maintenance are only the tip of the iceberg for many ADHD adults. Many of us also struggle to keep on top of our finances. Perhaps we or our spouses have an impulse purchasing habit that undermines what little long-term financial planning we’ve managed to put in place.
I’m not an accountant, but I know this much: we’re on track to be mortgage-free by the time R. graduates from middle school. We don’t need to pay someone to clean our house. If the impulse shopper among us has a late-night affair with Amazon Prime, we have a buffer. It doesn’t start a fight over how we’ll pay our bills at the end of the month.
Certainly, ADHD’ers need to learn restraint and accountability. We need to maintain our homes at a basic level and resist buying everything that excites us in the moment.
But we also need space to be compassionate with ourselves. If you live below your means, If you don’t spend every dollar before you’ve even made it, it gives you freedom. Freedom to reign in that spending habit without ruining your credit or alienating your spouse. Freedom to shop around for someone who will do a top-quality repair job when your roof leaks. Freedom to make those inevitable mistakes on your way to self-improvement with a little less pressure.
Freedom to lead a calm, uncluttered, and grateful life.