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Friday, November 15, 2013

Small House Living

Our home is a two story brick on a cul-de-sac. We have a fenced in yard and are close to in-town amenities. There is a deck off the back and a charming breakfast nook.

 It is also 1,290 square feet, with 3 bedrooms.

"How does that work with seven children??," you may ask (possibly in horror)...and many have asked me...The short answer is that we have what we need.

Not to appear disingenuous, if I were to be offered a 3000 sq. ft. house I would not turn it down--I'm sure we would all love the extra space in which to spread out.  However, a small home does not preclude happiness--nor is it a reason to stop having children.  I've made a list of some blessings that come from having a large family in a small space.  No, the noise level reaching dangerous decibels is not one of them.

1. Less Space = Less Stuff.  One simply cannot accumulate large quantities of anything without the home resembling a scene from Hoarders.  So, we are led to simplify-- a beautiful thing, really.  Only the toys with longevity get to stay (example: Legos, a bin of Transformers, dress up clothes, football trading cards). Only the clothes that are worn regularly stay in the rotation. If you haven't seen it in a two week laundry cycle, odds are it's not a favorite outfit and can go.  This does require consistency and vigilance to maintain--in fact, looking around, I see a bit too much stuff looking back at me--but it is worth the effort to have less to organize and clean.

We have 5 boys in one room, with one dresser and one small closet.  Practically speaking, we use under the bed roll-out bins to organize--one for Legos, one for dress up, and one for pajamas. In the closet, hanging shelves are key.

2. Sharing, Sharing, Sharing. So, it's not always fun, but it's a necessary part of life, right? We learn to share our toys and our parents, our bedrooms and our bathrooms. We grow up and we share other things: our feelings, our hearts, our dreams....our cubicles, bad moods, frustrations, and bank accounts. Starting young in the habit of space-sharing really isn't a's a reality check.

3. Found You!  There are many jokes about how a mother's deepest fear is the sound of silence. Surely that means a toddler is drinking the grape Tylenol. It's much harder for said toddler to hide in a small house filled with eight other people. In general, there is always someone ready to  tattle look out for you.  Seriously, though, there are much fewer places to hide. If we are still in this house when we have teenagers--SCORE, mom and dad! No secret Facebook for you, my naughty teens!

4. Imagination Rules.  Big families in small spaces mean tons of live-action gameplay.  I find that the kids rarely play with toys...they'd much rather be assigning roles in a game of robotic warfare or zombie attack.  All ages are invited. 2 year olds and 4 year olds make perfect minions to the bossy elders.  Sometimes the older boys will separate and venture outdoors for a rousing game of football or soccer.  Either way, when your house is full of people, it's full of playmates. Sometimes it's full of fighting. But no one is ever bored.

5. Children are Forever.  Which child should I give back to make sure the others have separate bathrooms? Which child do I regret because my kitchen feels cramped?   Exactly.

Fact is, in this home we have seven beds for seven children. Three of them are empty. The children choose to sleep with each other.  Big love, small space.

Rule #206: Count the people you love, not the square feet you live in.

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