About a year ago we moved into a tiny cottage in the bush on a mountain. At the time it was a little daunting – we were moving from a large, lush house with more rooms than people in our family and here we were having to squeeze into this tiny house.
I’m sure my husband thought I was crazy for accepting the offer from the real estate we were to rent through. But then again that isn’t a novel occurrence – I’m often causing my beloved to roll his eyes, but it’s been ten years now so he’s pretty un-shockable after all my antics over the years.
Six people. Tiny three bedroom house.
He thought it would be daunting – I thought it would be a fun challenge.
And you know what we discovered? We actually prefer to live in a small space.
The key to success has really been to cull, cull, cull. We have probably donated, sold or thrown out about 50% of our belongings since moving here. We have had to get super creative with the placement and arrangement of our belongings. It’s amazing how little stuff kids need, too. They each have a set space to store their toys, we have two box-shelves in our tiny living area and if the toys don’t fit then they don’t get to stay.
At the end of the day the main things our girls play with are: Lego, magna-tiles, Schleich animals, books, craft stuff & colouring in (limited to one box) and their outdoor stuff like their scooters, trampoline & trolley boards. That’s it.
We don’t even have a TV anymore. We had no where to fit the one we had so we donated it and we have not missed it.
We don’t even own a couch – we gave it away on Gumtree and have put in in its place a few foam mattresses covered in a tapestry to sit on, instead. After reading about Katy Bowman‘s “furniture free living” concept we figured we’d give it a go, but that’s a different post for another time.
It’s taught me to be really ruthless with the stuff we have. Do we really need it? How often have we used it? Can we do without it?
We don’t own a dishwasher in this house either. So this has meant the older girls do the dishes on a regular basis as part of their daily chores and we also reuse stuff whenever we can, and put dishes away as soon as they’re cleaned because otherwise they clutter space.
So what are the benefits to living in a small space?
Less time of our lives spent cleaning. It takes me about 15 minutes to vacuum and mop the entire house. Housework is so totally boring so I am grateful for this major factor alone.
More space for creativity. Less room for”stuff” means more room to play open-endedly, cook and spend time outside.
Learning how to “make do”. Our girls have learned to appreciate their belongings and enjoy the items they have because they don’t have many and they don’t get overwhelmed with choice.
Less mental clutter. When my house is messy, so is my head. Living in a messy cluttered space stresses me out. Living in a smaller space allows for more mental clarity.
Learning how to get along and accommodate each other in space. We have two decks, two hammock chairs, a dining table and the girls all have their own bed. Sure, on rainy days it can get pretty hard especially if we are all home but that time isn’t prolonged. Generally though, it’s taught us all how to be more considerate of each other’s personal space as well as enabled us to enjoy time together too. We can’t just escape from each other and avoid each other which, isn’t really a healthy regular habit anyway.
More time spent outdoors. Living in a small space has encouraged us to get outdoors more when we are feeling a little claustrophobic. We live in an incredible part of the world, brimming with natural beauty and living in a small space has given us the extra push to get outdoors more and explore and get active.
After having a childhood myself that was rich in “stuff” and not so rich in healthy functional relationships, being a large family living by choice in a small house has concreted to me just where our priorities lie in terms of important things in life.
Stuff is fun, but it isn’t the key to happiness. Stuff and space may be luxurious but if you aren’t all getting along, achieving goals, learning and growing as invididuals and a family in a safe space then it’s not the ultimate.
There is a lot to be gained from less. A whole lot more than we have had before.