I’ve mentioned here a time or two that I live in a very small home. When house shopping, we were looking for the most bang for our buck and with a newborn, that meant a move-in-ready home in good condition, a decent sized fenced-in yard, and a great school district. We knew (and were kind of drawn to the fact) that this meant a very small house. In the end, we ended up with a 2 bedroom, 1 bath house with a living room, kitchen and small backroom/mud room/laundry room on a little under half an acre with a fenced in yard for Cooper. The house is about 550 square feet, but we make it work.
With that in mind, we’ve had to get a little creative with Ryan and all of his stuff. You guys, babies have a lot of stuff! Between clothes, equipment, and, more recently, a need to explore, it would be very easy for every inch of our house to be completely covered in baby stuff (and goo). Granted, by the end of each night the house is covered in things due to Ryan’s love of spreading the toy love around, but that is a problem for another post.
I’ve had more than one person ask me, “How do you live in a small house with a baby?” And the truth is, I do it because it’s where we live. But I do have a few tips for how to make it a little more sane!
Put a lot of thought in to each and every purchase. Before every space-taking purchase we have made, we researched the best brand and type, as well as the model that would fit our house best. I mentioned in this post that we got a high chair that folded up slim. Another option could be one that hooks to the table, but we were concerned with Cooper jumping on it and knocking him down. We really hemmed and hawed over buying a Jumparoo, since it does have quite a large footprint. There were space-saving options, but they didn’t look like they would keep his attention as long and didn’t have great reviews. BUT we use the larger jumpy for so much – a morning chill out spot, a place for eating snacks, and somewhere to buy me a few minutes of “quiet” time, which more justifies the square footage. Not much in our house has “just” one purpose, because we know that we need to make every inch of this house worth the space.
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. If there is a receipt, great! I’ll get the full price the generous gift-giver paid. If not, I weigh whether of not it’s worth it to ask for one (mostly thinking about who would be offended) and if it’s not, most stores will give you store credit for the lowest sale price. Our parents know that we do not have the space for junk and either ask first or give a receipt. My mom, though, does like to get random stuff because she wants to shop, so I end up returning things. No needless space is taken up, and I can use the money for something we could really use, like diapers or clothes. Ryan does not need a bunch of toys. Both because we do not have the room, and because we don’t want to raise him to expect a ton of toys.
A toy box! Yes, there is a toy box in my kitchen. That is where we spend most of our days, since it’s the most open room in our house and I can get things done while Ryan hangs out. So we keep his toys in the kitchen. For a (stupid, stupid) bit we were just piling them in the corner, until I started putting them in this tote. It doesn’t necessarily “go” with our decor, but it keeps it out of the way and safe from Cooper.
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. While Ryan’s room has his own closet and a large dresser, I think in such a small house it’s important not to clutter or stuff things in to spaces. Utilize what you have! For us, that’s the basements, garages and attics of our poor, unsuspecting family. Love ya, guys!
GET OUT OF YOUR 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. Exploring is your best friend when in a small space. In the winter, the book store, library, TARGET, or mall are all great options. Getting out of your house fights off cabin fever and gives your a break from staring at the same walls.
Psst – when you’re leaving, make sure you’re prepped for unexpected diaper situations! Make a car Diaper Changing Station for your car.
Keep it clean. Lastly, if the house isn’t kept more or less tidy, the clutter will drive you crazy. Or, at least it will drive me crazy. When there is stuff everywhere, I have such bad claustrophobia. Use these tips to learn routines to help keep it all in check, and use naps for tidying – put away toys and organize for just five minutes each nap and you’ll see a big difference.
I promise you, a small house (or apartment!) and a baby is doable. You do have to be strategic but as long as you follow these tips, I’m sure you’ll keep your sanity (and won’t break anything tripping over baby stuff!)
Any tips for a small house? What’s your favorite multi-tasking kid item? Let me know in the comments!