I’ve talked about our home several times lately, and our decision to stay in it for the time being, even though we’re lacking space. One of the first questions our friends and family asked when we announced we were expecting twins was, “are you going to move into a bigger house?” Of course the thought crossed our minds, and still does, but our main concern (other than the well being of our babies) was the fact that I was not going to be able to work outside of the home like we had originally planned. That meant not only were we going to be having double the amount of kids than we had expected, as well as higher medical bills for twins, we were also going to be living on less income. So a larger house with a bigger mortgage and higher utility bills would not be a smart move.
So we stayed, and here we are, the girls are almost 6 months (really???) and we’re happily living in our <800 sq ft home. I’ve learned how to make it work for us so far and I thought I’d share some tips in case you’re in the same boat!
1. Get rid of stuff.
I know this sounds obvious but it’s probably the hardest part. Before the girls came, we spent countless weekends getting rid of stuff or boxing things up and putting them in the attic for later use. When you live in a small house, you can’t get attached to things unless you want to pay for a storage unit (or you have very nice parents with extra room in their home …thanks mom and dad)! Small kitchen appliances that we use twice a year and china passed down from my grandma are currently in boxes in the attic, along with many other items we’re not using at the moment. One day they’ll reappear, but for now we need the space for other items that we use more regularly. All of those cool decorative items and collectibles end up taking up space and aren’t exactly kid friendly, so box them up too or sell/donate them.
2. Look for storage in new ways.
For the items you keep around, find new ways to store them. We’ve become best friends with vacuum bags for linens and off season clothes. Also, get a bed skirt if you don’t have one, and utilize under the bed + cribs for storage. Rethink your closet space and install shelving or closet systems to maximize your closet storage. Use hooks on empty walls or on the back of doors. Shoe organizers are also great, you can store many things, in addition to shoes, in these organizers. Think of how you can use your wall space for storage or shelving. We also have baskets all over our house. It’s no secret that they’re a great way to store items in a pretty way.
Also- we keep our strollers and carriers in my SUV. Why have them take up valuable space in the house? When my car was in the shop and we had all of this stuff in our living room, we joked that we really missed our mobile storage unit. 🙂
3. Everything has its place.
A way of thinking you have to adapt to in a small home is that everything HAS to have a home. When an item is not being used, it has to live somewhere and that somewhere can’t be on top of a table or piece of furniture (unless it’s meant to go there of course). If it doesn’t have it’s place in our home, we don’t have room for it so we get rid of it or don’t buy it in the first place. It might sound a little over the top but its been key to my sanity.
4. Pick up as you go.
Along with the last point, put everything away in its home as you go. I have to do this throughout the day otherwise there will be no where to walk or stand or sit by the end of the day. When the girls go down for a nap, I put their toys away (or at least collect them in one area), if I don’t I’ll be tripping and stepping on toys. When I finish eating lunch, I do the dishes, and put everything away. I don’t have room to do anything else if dishes are on the table or counter. When I’m done wearing my shoes, I put them in their home so I don’t trip over them. (ahem! Husband…)
5. Get outside.
I’m so thankful that we have a big yard and I know once the girls are more mobile we’ll be utilizing the space outside much more often. The girls LOOOOOVE being outside and getting out of the house helps not only for sanity reasons but also for exercise. We try to get out and walk around our neighborhood or at a park every day that it’s nice outside. It really helps!
6. Cut down on decor clutter.
This goes with #1 but it really is a huge point. When your home is cluttered, it feels smaller. Also, with more things laying around, that’s just more things that your kids can get their hands on. I’m already pulling things out of my babies’ hands and they’re not even 6 months yet. I’m working on the clutter (and baby proofing) in our home as we speak!
7. Get neutral baby gear.
I know babies like bright colors, and most of the twins toys are super colorful; but when it comes to the equipment that stays out 24/7, I had to resist the cute pink and bright colored items. This just adds to the visual clutter in the room when you have lots of bright equipment, which makes a room feel smaller. Our main items (pack n play, swings, highchairs) are all a neutral color that somewhat blends with the rest of the room. Don’t get me wrong, when you walk into our house, it’s no secret that we have a couple of babies, but the neutral colors help at least a little.
8. Multipurpose furniture + baby gear.
If you’re in the market for new furniture, look for items that serve several purposes. Our coffee table is a chest that opens for storage; storage ottomans are great too. Our kitchen table has shelving underneath where we store our pots and pans. It’s counter height as well which gives us more prep space. I’ve seen beds with drawers underneath for storage. Look for tables with drawers to keep things handy but out of sight. This goes for baby equipment as well. We don’t have room for 2 baby swings, infant seats, and bouncy seats so we have 3 in 1 swings to save space. The girls’ dresser is also a changing table instead of having two separate pieces of furniture.
9. Rotate items often.
I feel like I’m always going through the girls’ closet and drawers, pulling out clothes that no longer fit and storing them away. As sad of a task that it is, it’s essential to do often because we just don’t have the space to keep everything out. The same goes for equipment or toys that they don’t use anymore. We have two swings but rarely use them anymore. While I’m not ready to get rid of both yet, I can say goodbye to one to free up more space for an exersaucer as well as high chairs. I have a jumper at my parents house and when they’re big enough for that, we’ll probably trade that for one of the swings. As the babies’ needs and interests change, so does the equipment and toys. Rotating these things out (either giving them away/selling or putting in storage) frees up more space for new things…like the girls’ pack n play that is currently in our entryway. Hey, it works!
I’m constantly working on this but it’s a big one. If you’re always focusing on the lack of space, your home is going to feel even smaller and you’ll just get frustrated. Changing your perspective is huge. I know this is just a season of our lives, one that I’m trying to not allow to fly by while I’m worrying about how my house looks. I honestly can say I’m truly thankful to be living in a small house with the girls being this age. I can’t imagine how much more worn out I’d be if I was running all over a big house or going up and down stairs every day. Our home is perfect for this stage in our lives.
Any other tips for small house living (with or without kids)?