Living in a small house with kids is doable. With these easy but important tips and guidelines, you can learn how to make a small space less stressful for your family.
When I was pregnant, we had just moved in with my MIL to figure out what to do next when our lease was up.
We started house hunting only to realize the “dream” homes in NJ were WAY out of our prive range. I was fresh out of college and working at a nonprofit and we were 22 and 24 respectively.
The first house we looked at and put an offer on, I thank God we didn’t get. Not only was it tiny, but it was a one bedroom. Eek!
Small Houses for Families
While what we ended up in wasn’t a “tiny” home by far, it’s small. We now are a family of 5, plus a lab and a cat living in a 600 square foot house with 2 beds and one tiny bath.
We make it work.
If you’re looking for a small house with kids but not sure how to manage it, I’m sharing my best tips after living here for 6 years with minimal stress.
Tips for living in a small space with children
Today I’m sharing my BEST tips for living in a small home without losing your mind. While some days it can be tough, your mental health will thank you for taking these steps!
Think out every single purchase,
We don’t buy much of anything without sitting on it for some time, especially if it will take up any reasonable about of space.
Not only does this help us save space, but it ensures we’ve weighed out the pros and cons, know that it will be used often, and will have storage space for us to put it.
I should note, this is not my natural style. I love “stuff”. I love momentos. Thankfully, my husband does love to live a minimalist life so he can help me stick to it.
By enacting a minimalist style on “stuff” – be that clothes, furniture, toys, etc – you’re able to get more out of what you have. It also obviously means less room is being taken up.
This becomes especially improtant when it comes to furniture. In our tiny living room, we have a small couch and a TV mounted on the wall. This frees up a lot of floor space (no coffee table or end tables) which makes it feel huge!
Stop with the comparison.
It can be easy to see other houses – be it friends or strangers on social media – and feel jealous. Comparing YOUR situation to THEIRS does you absolutely no good.
Stop comparing your home to others. So long as you have a happy, healthy family and a safe, warm home, you have what you need. Everything else is extra.
There’s a home for EVERYTHING.
If something doesn’t have a home, we make a home for it. If we can’t find (or think of, if we haven’t purchased it yet) a home for it, it doesn’t stay in the house.
This is super important. If you have a bunch of nicknacks, toys, storage, etc all over your house, the clutter and mess will make it feel even smaller.
By having a home for everything, the mess can be more manageable. It also ensures that everything can FIT in your home and has a purpose.
Make and enforce rules.
This has been SO important. As my boys got older, they have a part in how we are able to manage living in a small home. By taking part in managing the stress and clutter, they are able to help make it more livable.
Some of our rules:
- Things go away before we play with something else.
- If they’re having a chaotic “play with alllll the things” day (there’s merit to it!) it stays in their room.
- Messes in one room at a time. If they want to play in the kitchen, they clean up their room first.
- Toys come in, toys go out.
Don’t be afraid to return gifts.
I’m probably going to get a ton of backlash for this, but I really do not care. I have NO problem returning gifts.
We have generous family members who usually keep our small home in mind. But birthdays and holidays can be overwhelming with 3 kids.
We say thank you for every single gift, then come home and pick what they REALLY will use for longer than 5 minutes. Then I bring back the excess and get gift cards. We also let the kids later use those gift cards for toys or outside stuff.
Another option is asking for OUTSIDE toys if you have a yard! A soccer net, a power wheels. a sand box or slide all get kids out of the house but also get the TOYS out of your house.
This can get stickier as kids get older, and sometimes I just put the toys in my closet to break out on rainy days. It helps with the “flow” of the toys in and out.
Use other people’s space.
This might not be great for everyone, but we are very blessed to have family where we can stash stuff.
Our parents have graciously taken in old car seats, stroller caddies, and baby clothes that Ryan has grown out of.
Utilize what you have! For us, that’s the basements, garages and attics of our poor, unsuspecting family.
We also use parents houses to store seasonal clothes or holiday decorations.
Get Out of the House
The number one reason we were so okay with moving into such a small house is that it’s in a beautiful area with tons of parks. We knew that from March to October we would be going to the park on sunny days and weekends.
We also have a large, fenced in backyard that more than makes up for a small home. Now that my boys are older, I kick them outside regularly. Not only do they get fresh air and expend energy, but they have more space to be kids.
Keep it clean.
Lastly, if the house isn’t kept more or less tidy, the clutter will drive you crazy. When there is stuff everywhere, I have such bad claustrophobia.
Find routines that work for you to reduce clutter and keep things tidy. Give your kids tasks to help out.
I promise you, a small house (or apartment!) and kids is doable. You do have to be strategic but as long as you follow these tips, I’m sure you’ll keep your sanity.
Any tips for a small house? What’s your favorite multi-tasking kid item? Let me know in the comments!