My family and I have lived in all kinds of homes—a large, open four-bedroom house, a cramped condo, a cute house on the corner of Mandarin Court, a 28-foot camper with no slide-outs, and a second-story apartment with no yard.
We've always prioritized adventure, so when my business freed my husband from his nine-to-five job and we saw an opportunity for more, we took it. We renovated our tiny travel trailer and set out for a seven month trip with our four kids and our dog. (Yes, we're a little crazy.)
Through choosing small homes and spending more than half a year in our camper, I've learned a few tricks to help others who may also find themselves living small with kids.
Side note on decor: I'm a person who cares a lot about aesthetic when it comes to pretty much anything, especially the place I call home. I was never okay with sacrificing style for practicality, which sometimes made living small even harder, but where there's a will there's a way, am I right? Just know that you can live in a tiny home and enjoy the perks of that without sacrificing your love of beauty and cozy style in your decor.
Six ways to live small with kids:
1. Get down to the bare minimum.
Take a look at how many people are in your family and what you use on a daily and weekly basis, consistently, every week. Six people in the family would mean you truly only need six plates, six bowls, six cups. Depending on how small you're living, you can simplify all the way down to what's absolutely necessary. There were homes that we had extra in, but when we were in the camper, things were stripped all the way down. My to-do list was never shorter!
2. Use vertical space.
We don't often consider moving UP the wall when we're looking to save space, but when you live in a home with extremely limited space, you have to get creative.
For example, hang a knife rack and mug hooks on the wall in the kitchen above the paper towel dispenser, or build a triple bunk bed that goes higher up the wall than a traditional double bunk. You can place shelves for storage higher up the wall than you normally would and use a small step stool to reach their contents.
3. When it comes to paint color, choose white.
White is the best color for anything in a small space! Not only is it currently trendy, it's easy to bleach and keep clean. Best of all, it opens everything up! White makes everything look bigger than it is.
This is huge in a small space. I can't tell you how many times someone would look at the outside of our little camper and comment on how small it was, and then walk inside and be shocked at how open it looked.
4. Choose double-duty items.
Sometimes, you can't have it all when it comes to larger items, like kitchen appliances. In the camper, I couldn't have a crockpot, a pressure cooker, a Kitchenaid mixer, a toaster oven and a food processor. I had to choose.
What made the choice a lot easier was sticking with items that served more than one purpose. For example, my pressure cooker doubled as a slow cooker, so I was able to let go of my crockpots. Don't let panic set in—you only need what you end up keeping because you can adjust your meal planning according to what you have in your kitchen.
5. Store out-of-season items.
When you live tiny, you can't afford the space it takes to have everything you own near you the entire year. Have a place to store out-of-season clothing and other seasonal items. When we lived in the camper, it was spring and summer, so our winter things weren't with us. This saved us so much space!
6. Have a home for everything you own.
This may seem obvious, but hear me out. When you have a “normal" sized house, you can buy things and bring new things into it without even a thought. However when you live small, there is a tight limit to how much you can fit. If there's too much, your place will be a mess all the time—no fun for mama.
By knowing exactly where each item belongs, you can see clearly if you need to get rid of something and exactly how much space you have for buying new things, if any. Make sure everyone in your family knows where the things you own belong!
Living small has been a very sweet part of our family's story. It means less cleaning and maintenance, more time spent with everyone in the same room, and less money wasted on filling space with needless decor. Although we won't always live small (as our need for a larger home office and more space as we seek to adopt causes us to expand), I will always treasure our time being so close together.