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Part of my journey in learning to be a more simple minded mama came unexpectedly a few years ago, when by circumstance, we moved into a tiny home. It was initially 288 square feet, and we eventually added on a bonus bedroom/laundry room combination when baby #2 came along, that made it about 350 square feet, with the help of family.
By living there for over two and a half years, there’s quite a bit that I learned…
These life lessons fall into categories such as simplifying, contentment, and perspective. Are you ready to learn the benefits of living in a smaller space?
P.S. If you want to read more about living semi-minimalist, check out my review of The Minimalist Home.
So here we go, the lessons…
We had too much stuff.
I remember it being a chore to pack and move box after box, load after load, to our new place 20 miles away. We were moving in for months before the physical move, getting stuff packed away for storage and out of sight. When you are put in a moving situation, you really do learn how much stuff you have. It’s freeing to designate some of this stuff to sell – donate – store – keep – piles!
We don’t use all the space we had, and therefore we don’t need it.
A note on this: You truly don’t need that much “space” in a home in order to have “personal space.” This is rather, a state of mind. It all comes down to perspective. (Also, being intentional in your use of space is an absolute). For tiny living, you must look at things with a “half glass full” lens. And if you are to live tiny, I suggest putting the home on a property, in a community with more greenspace, or on wheels – you will find that you may tend to spend more time outdoors.
A dishwasher is a game-changer in tiny living.
This is pretty self-explanatory – easier on mama, less clutter in the sink, anything you can imagine. It’s a must to have this appliance in a tiny space.
We are much happier with less things.
This means less items, less toys, less clutter.. It’s truly freeing! If you don’t believe me, try counting the number of individual items you own, then share how it makes you feel. Even the pens we always tend to misplace.
This includes toys! We rotate toys for the boys every couple of weeks.
Having an efficient toy storage solution is a must for smaller living, and you will soon learn the value of square footage. Your kids will too. Try to put your toys on a rotating basis: Have a few egg crates of intentional toys that you keep out for a few weeks at a time each. That way, by the time your kids start to get bored of the same toys, there’s new-to-them-at-the-time toys coming in to play. And keep them intentional: legos, blocks, crayons, books…
Walk-in closets were overwhelming – Having a small closet the size of a doorway with a few shelves works just as well.
If you would track the clothes you wear in any given month, you will soon learn your favorite pieces to wear, and the pieces you rarely wear. While it’s good to keep clothes for special occasions and a night out, that shouldn’t be half of your closet. Taking notice of the trends in your wardrobe will really help you pare it down to something manageable – and less overwhelming.
Less space inside means intentionally more time outside.
This lesson is fairly self-explanatory, but it needs saying. Having a smaller space translates to spending more time outside, in nature, playing and spending time together as a family. This is a really great thing – And once you notice that you tend to stay inside mostly for food, sleep, and when it’s dark or there’s poor weather – Well, it won’t matter as much how much space you have inside if you don’t spend much time there. That’s just a bonus and helps to keep your kids in nature, doing what kids do best: play and learn.
P.S. Albert Einstein once said “Play is the highest form of education” – How often do your kids play outside?
Keeping a clean home is important for smaller spaces, especially.
Less clutter falls into this idea. This means more constant sweeping, and although it takes less time than before, it makes a huge difference in your own peace of mind. This is an area that I admit I haven’t always embraced, because with kids, spaces tend to not stay clean for long. But it’s a work in progress, and is especially important for living in a smaller space. More clutter or an unkempt tiny space makes for a more chaotic living experience… In so many words. I know we fell into that at times, but there’s always room for improvement.
Space is a luxury.
Even just a few square feet of space make a major difference. It’s pretty obvious said this way, but less does indeed mean more, in this case. Think about it: On any given day, do you touch every square foot of your home? Or are there closets over-packed with stuff, a guest room you rarely use, or a living room twice the size you need for your family? Is all of that necessary, if only for a couple of days a year?
Anything can be your home.
After all, home is where you feel safe and loved, and ultimately home is where your people are. Not things, but your people. All that to say – we lived in a storage shed – Yes, that’s right – The tiny home I mentioned was initially a storage shed. And it wasn’t even a third of the size of the average garage. But you learn to make the best of it, because ultimately, being with your people, no matter the place you call home, is what matters. IT doesn’t have to be fancy with all the highest finishings, it doesn’t have to be a certain size or in a certain neighborhood, it simply has to best fit you and your people and your life.
Do you live in a tiny home, or what you’d consider a smaller-than-average space? What would you add to this list? Does this give you ideas on how to simplify your home and belongings? If so, I’d love to hear in the comments what changes you make!
~Katherine Newsom writes at Simple Natural Mama
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