Six Things I've Learned While Living in Temporary Housing

This is our last week in the apartment we've been temporarily living in, and I couldn't be more excited! We've been here for seven weeks now and all told, it really hasn't been too bad. While the apartment doesn't have all the comforts of home, it truly does have all the necessities. Although I do have to say, they told me it was a "fully equipped kitchen" yet I don't even have measuring cups and had to put in a "special request" for a baking dish and cookie sheet ...  BUT. Get over this: I HAVE A MAID. That's right, these hands haven't cleaned a toilet in TWO MONTHS. Seriously, I'm addicted to this maid-thing. Every other Wednesday morning, I pack the kids up and we burn two hours so we can have someone come in and scrub the bacon grease off the oven and the toothpaste out of the sinks. Every time I get down on living in temp housing I just have to remember one thing: the MAID. And all is well again.

But even with all the maid-perks, I'm so ready to be done living in transition and to complete the final leg of this move. It feels like we've been so transient these past four months with our lives in so much upheaval, it'll be nice to begin to put down roots and feel like there are no (foreseeable) changes in the future.

All said and done, this has honestly been some of the hardest, most difficult months of my life, but I've learned and grown so much through it all. I'm still processing a lot of what has happened, (and has yet to happen) but here are a few things I've learned from living in temporary housing:
  1. You really can live with less. Our apartment is actually the same size as our old house (1,500 square feet), and it claims to be "fully furnished" - a table and four chairs; a couch, club chair and coffee table; two beds, two dressers and two side tables and a handful of basics in the kitchen. Everything else we brought with us in just two cars. Which means we really don't have much. And you know what? I don't really miss my stuff all that much. Sure, every once in a while I'll wish I had a throw blanket to take a nap with on the couch, or I'll wish I had a tray to hold my jewelry so I didn't knock it off the side table at night, or how nice it would be to grate my cheese with a food processor instead of a 4"x2" grater, (Yes, that is its actual size, I measured it. Do you know how long it takes me to make a quesadilla?) But small annoyances aside, I'm amazed by how little we have here at the apartment and how really, we have everything we need. 
  2. But at the same time, sometimes all that stuff is pretty great. At the risk of sounding super materialistic, I've also come to appreciate all the things we have in storage right now. Pretty art to rest my eyes on, a glass vase to put flowers in, and my favorite coffee mug to use in the morning. While those things are not necessities, somehow, they make the day-to-day more enjoyable. I've written before about how we're hardwired to be drawn to beauty and living in this apartment with a sterile hotel-like environment is anything but beautiful. While I can live here, I don't enjoy living here. I don't like spending time here because, honestly it's not a very nice place to spend time in. Living in temporary housing for two months has made me really appreciate all of the wonderful "extras" I've been blessed with and to remember that often it's the small things in life that can make a big difference in your attitude and perspective. It's those personalized touches that takes a place from just being somewhere to sleep to being someone's home.
  3. Garbage bags and duct tape are pretty much the best things ever invented. Since it's spring, the sun rises at an hour no one should be up at, and temporary apartments aren't really designed with children in mind. We have a two bedroom apartment - Colette sleeps in our closet in a portable bassinet and Eli sleeps in the guest room. The first thing we did to his room was throw garbage bags over his windows with duct tape. Now the kid has no idea if it's day or night in his room - giving him the best chance at sleeping late as possible. I'm seriously considering just doing this to his room in our new house too. The sleep is just soooo good. 
  4. I have finally learned the secret to a picked up house. (Please note I didn't say "clean" - although the answer to that is above - MAID.) Ever since we said yes to moving five days after Colette was born, our lives have been insane. But you know what? Our old house always stayed fairly organized and picked up, even with all the chaos of preparing for a move. But here at the apartment? For a long time it was in a constant state of mess and disarray and it was driving me nuts. Then one day it dawned on me - nothing has a true "home." We don't have coat hooks, so the coats go on the floor by the patio door. We don't have an office area so our mail/printer/paperwork all ends up on the kitchen counter, and we don't have a true linen closet so all our bathroom stuff stays on the counters. About four weeks into our stay, I pulled a few boxes out from the move and put them around the house as catch-alls. Now we have a box for coats and hats by the door, toiletries and towels by the sink and a box in the dining room for paperwork. It's not pretty, but it works. I know it sounds like a no brainer, like something everyone knows and does naturally, but I never realized how important it is for everything to have a "home" in order for your house to not become a cluttered mess until I lived in temporary housing.
  5. I am totally going to rock a capsule wardrobe from here on out. As I'm still trying to lose all the baby weight from Colette, I only brought the clothes that fit when we moved, which means I've been wearing a capsule wardrobe this entire time - eight shirts/sweaters, two cardigans, three pairs of pants, one pair of shorts and three pairs of shoes. And that includes pajamas and lounge wear. Literally. Seventeen pieces. That's ALL I have.  I have more underwear than shirts here at the apt. But you know what? It's been pretty great. I don't like putting too much thought or time into my appearance in the morning and this unintentional capsule wardrobe has helped me keep my wardrobe decisions to a minimum. I am all about the momiform, and these last two months have taught me that while a capsule wardrobe can seem a bit intimidating it's not too hard in practice. 
  6. Every time we pull into our apartment complex, Eli shouts "Home!" from his carseat. Not only is it adorable, it's a great reminder for me that home is wherever you make it. Yep, it's the cheesey "lesson learned," but I have to say it. More than ever, I'm realizing just how important family is and how unimportant stuff is. I'll be the first to admit that I always know the right answer, but my life doesn't always live it out. Sometimes, I can get so caught up in my surroundings and wanting to be comfortable and cute and put together that I forget what really matters - that my family is together, safe and loved - and wherever we are together, well, that's home. 
This apartment and this situation, it may be temporary, but the lessons learned are not. There are a lot of growing pains happening on this side of the computer, and honestly, the list above doesn't even scratch the surface. But I know it's good for me - giving me perspective, insight and a mindset I wouldn't have had if I hadn't been forced out of my comfort zone. But I have to be honest, I'm ready to be DONE learning from temp housing and get into our new house - now I just have to figure out a way to get to keep the maid ...

ps. The winner of the Stella & Dot giveaway is Laura Ruch. Laura, check your email for a note from me to claim your prize!

6 comments:

  1. Wonderful lessons! I agree - having a 'beautiful' space that reflects your personality is really quite important and meaningful. Won't it be so fun to take all of those 'favorite things' out of storage and cook with your own pots and pans? So exciting!

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  2. I've been doing a capsule wardrobe these past two seasons and I'm totally sold! It's so nice (for me) to look into a closet and think, welp, these are my choices. Easy! Plus since we have such limited storage in our house, the capsule wardrobe allows me to have actual SPACE in my closet. Which I find that I really, really like.

    Good luck on your move! Can't wait to see the new place.

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  3. What beautiful lessons, Laura! I've been debating trying a capsule wardrobe for awhile and I'm so glad to hear that it's working for you (definitely encouraging as I maybe hopefully will try it!).

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  4. Thank you Allison, you should definitely try it out! It's awesome and SO simple. It's just one less thing, you know?

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  5. Yay! Glad to hear you're doing it too - sounds like we're in the same boat with it. The perks are AWESOME!

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  6. Thanks Emily - I'm SO excited, and can't wait for you to some see it! It'll seriously be like Christmas morning!

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