Are you, like my husband and me, raising two kids in a two-bedroom condo or apartment? Are you wondering how long your family will fit or wishing you had more space? We do, too. But as parents of two boys (seven and nine years old), we have grown to love life in our little place. We’ve enjoyed living here longer than we thought we would, and you might enjoy several more years, if not a lifetime, in your small home. Here’s why.
Small homes are easy to keep clean. Spending 10 minutes putting things away leaves our home looking organized and neat. Ten more minutes yields clean bathrooms and kitchen. If I wanted to, I could keep our home looking spotless in 15 minutes each day. As it is, I can usually find 20 minutes to straighten up right before guests arrive.
Small homes also provide lots of family time. Since our kids are never more than a few short steps away from us, we almost always know what they are up to, even if we aren’t involved. They can do their homework, take a bath and clean up their room while remaining close enough to carry on a conversation with me in the kitchen. When we want privacy, we just close our bedroom doors (which works about half the time).
The “one toy in, one toy out” rule is part of our routine. Our closets, cupboards and shelves are big enough for what we need and help deter us from keeping too much. I admit we occasionally store unopened cereal boxes on a shelf in our bedroom because there is no room in the cereal cupboard, but that has more to do with my husband’s “unique” grocery list than our lack of space.
Living without a yard means we never have to do yard work. We’ve never had to clean gutters, reseal a patio or rake leaves. We don’t even have a garage to keep clean. Yes, I daydream about gardening, playing in the yard and not looking for street parking, but I appreciate our mostly maintenance-free life.
Our boys are learning how to be good neighbors. With reminders (sometimes several in quick succession), they don’t yell in the stairwell, dump out their marbles on the wood floor or jump up and down while playing Wii. Since a baby moved in upstairs, they have been learning to be especially quiet during his naptime. Having other people’s needs top of mind is a wonderful practice (and we practice, practice and practice it).
Every family has different needs and priorities, and what works for me might not work for you. But if you are living in a small home with children underfoot, don’t despair. Small-space living has unique advantages that can help make life relatively easy and fun. Enjoy the benefits while you have them. After all, living small can be pretty great.