Since my husband Aaron and I were married in 2004, we have lived in small spaces. The house we bought was 1250 square foot, which was the biggest place we lived in until we moved to our new place of 1200 square feet. From rental home to apartment, to spare rooms in both our parent’s homes, we have survived just fine in small spaces.
I often hear people talking about how their house is too small for their growing family. Or there are complaints about their small master bedroom, or that their kids’ rooms are too small. Some have even said their house is unlivable. My retort for that final statement: tell that to a starving child in Ethiopia, or to an orphan. Or perhaps an orphaned child in Ethiopia.
But, this isn’t a judgment call on anyone.
Would I have chosen to live in a bigger home? Heck yes. I would love to live in a big home, with room to walk around my bed. I would love to have a walk-in closet, a master bath, and separate rooms for my kids. God knows, I have whined and complained and moped over the small spaces we have lived in. And my poor husband has had to listen to my complaints for years. I have to say, I don’t like myself when I turn into that person. And my attitude rubs off on everyone around me. Sorry kids.
So in the eight years we have been married—six of which were spent raising babies and toddlers, working long hours, and seeing no financial progress—I learned to cope. When faced with an obstacle you can’t just hop over, we learned to challenge and conquer it. We slept on a futon in our living room behind a row of shelving. We did laundry at my mother-in-law’s house a block away for a good three years total. We walked to the park multiple times a week out of necessity. We had no yard. While I felt we deserved more, I learned to function with what we were given.
I learned I don’t need a larger space; I just needed to find contentment and function right where I am, and let God deal with what I “deserve.”
So here are some tips for living in small spaces:
- Get out of your house, often. Your house will feel more like home when you return. Plus, you might just make some friends.
- Keep moving, and find rest when the messes are picked up. Living in small spaces leaves no room for laziness. We learned the hard way. I was constantly in fear that people would stop by unexpectedly, because our junk was everywhere. I recently adopted the “clean up 100 things before you rest” technique and it is doing wonders for my soul… and my home!
- Keep the dinner table clean. Of all the places in the house, I believe its very important to always have the table available so we can eat as a family. Aside from family movie nights, you should never have to sit in front of the TV due to a cluttered dining table.
- Keep the fridge clean. Nothing bothers me more than a messy fridge, especially when I have to unload groceries.
- Purge, purge, purge. I donate our posessions and unused items on a regular basis. Additionally, we purge toys and clothing before every holiday, including birthdays. We always come home with something, and it would be nice to have somewhere to put it!
- Play background music. When life feels like a music video, all is right with the world. I prefer Bluegrass, or Folk Rock.
- Let your kids make messes. And teach them at a young age how to clean it up.
- Empty the trash REGULARLY. Nasty food smells don’t help anyone. This is especially important for households with dogs and dirty diapers. But hopefully not dogs with dirty diapers, because that would be weird.
- Keep the kitchen sink empty. I don’t think I have to explain that one.
- Avoid the urge to spend money on seasonal decorations, clothing, takeout, and impulse purchases. If you follow this tip, you just may save money and end up in a bigger house someday!