The First Step: Moving Out

Ok so I thought LOOOOONNNNNGGGGG and hard about posting this picture above (let’s face it, no one wants others to see their home when it’s less than perfect) but since this page is about the good, the bad, the ugly and the goofy bits about world schooling, I’m just going to share with you my frustrations when my tiny apartment looked like this!

We have become so accustomed to living in small spaces that we didn’t realize how challenging it is when we had to re-organise all our stuff!

But this was a necessary first step to our world schooling journey… de-clutter and to let go of the old so that we can let in the new (I’m sure this is a Chinese ….or Indian Proverb somewhere).

We took nearly 6 weeks to organize all our stuff and I’d have to admit that the whole process has been super emotional (particularly for me) because it was a realization that our plans are starting to get really real and that there’s no turning back from this point on ……and that was just as scary as hell……actually it was worse……it was a roller coaster of ups and downs, with bouts of excitement (YAY! WE ARE DOING THIS!) and bouts of anxiety (WHAT THE HELL DID I THINK I WAS DOING?). It was both physically and emotionally exhausting.

The boys have been amazing during the de-cluttering. Everything seemed too daunting for them when they realized how much there was to re-organise so we sat down and I literally showed them ‘how to eat an elephant….one bite at a time’ (well not literally). I got out three boxes to help them categorize their items and emptied out the items as it got full so that we could send it to different places.

“things to keep”, “things to recycle”, “things to keep”








This really helped with the overwhelm because it makes things more manageable (for all you folks who have difficulties getting your children to comply when you tell them to clean out their room, try this!). I would spend about half an hour everyday, sitting with them and looking through the stuff that they have organized to make sure that they have thought through about the items that they have put into each box.

Someone once said that ‘if a stuff toy doesn’t have a name, donate it, if it does, keep it’ so we sort of adopted this one as a rule of thumb …….till i realized that my boys had names for ALL their Nerf guns……yup! HUGE oversight……but then again, I don’t think anyone actually grows out of those things (my brother-in-law is still playing with them… his office!) so ok, fair enough.

As it turns out, after what seemed like months and months of decluttering, we have ended up sending more than half of our stuff to the recycling bins, one quarter went to better homes (this was part of our fund raiser which I will share about some other time;) and another quarter went into storage (aka my mom’s place…..thank god for moms!)……those are the things that we simply can’t let go of……baby clothes, picture albums, books……all 40 boxes of them.

The whole concept of living out of our suitcases has became more and more achievable once we have decluttered and sent everything into storage. Most importantly, I personally felt like a huge boulder has been lifted off my shoulders with all the physical and emotional cleansing (I don’t mean to sound like I’m reading a scripture but I just don’t have the words to describe it). It feels so liberating to let go of everything that once made me happy and to make room and possibilities for more things to make me happy…….and this time, I’m moving away from looking for material happiness and more towards experiential happiness (is that even a term?)……but yes, happiness in doing things with my boys and with the people I love and just stopping to enjoy the different experiences that life has to offer.

Looking back, I’m so glad that we took this chance to declutter. I’m beginning to understand why my friend, Yvonne, said that we need to move countries every few years so that we have a chance to declutter and to experience new things. For me, it was a process of realizing how unhappy I was and taking the chance to move on.

This is us with all our suitcases and three scooters for the next two years….or more!


Foong Kwin Tan

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