Many families live in small spaces out of necessity, like living in an expensive city where buying a home isn’t always a viable option. Other families choose small spaces because they prefer them. My husband and I have chosen apartment living because it suits our family best. Granted, we do live in a rather large complex in the suburbs, but it definitely doesn’t have the same amount of space and personality as the houses either of us grew up in.
As our son grows, it has become a little more difficult to make the space work for us. While we still love our apartment, we have come to understand that, in order to stay, a few changes needed to be made. Like us, your space may not be as tiny as some, but any family residing in a smaller home or apartment could benefit from these tips.
1. Be As Organized As Possible
This is a rule of thumb for all people living in small spaces, even those doing it without kids. In order to keep your sanity in tact, you have to stay organized. De-clutter your kitchen counters, closets, dressers, floors, and walls, first. This doesn’t mean throwing out all of your favorite worldly possessions, but it does mean that everything in your home should have its own, special place.
If you are having a hard time finding a place for everything as is, it may be time to invest in some organizational furniture. On the more cost effective side, IKEA is full of furniture that is mean to double as storage. You can also put a few shelves up around the house that can serve as a space for books, kitchen items, knick-knacks, without taking up all of your precious space.
2. Make Sure The Kids Have Their Own Space
The younger your kids are, the more space they will command. Space to play, space to put their toys, space to be messy, you name it. While this is definitely normal, it can be hard to accomplish when you’re sharing a small living space with them. Instead of delegating all of your kids’ favorite activities to the living room or kitchen, make sure they have their own space. If your kids are older, this may mean ensuring that they have a desk to do their homework in their room. If they are older, this means giving them a place to go a little nuts with their favorite toys and art projects.
When trying to accomplish this with multiple children in the same room, you definitely need a slightly larger space. Many parents decide to take the smaller bedroom and let their children have the master. It is a little unconventional, sure, and it definitely means sacrificing your own space to your little ones. But it allows your kids tons of room and a place of their own to corral their mess outside of the common areas.
3. Worry About Comfort Over Aesthetics
It totally sucks to have to come to this realization, but life doesn’t always play out like an episode of your favorite HGTV show. If you have a larger space, you often have a lot more freedom when it comes to design. When you are sharing a small space, the focus needs to lean more towards comfort and efficiency.
This doesn’t mean you and you family can’t add your own little flair to your home, it just means that, while that white leather couch is gorgeous, there is no way you’re going to be able to keep your kids from eating, playing, and standing on it all of the time.
There is plenty of furniture out there that looks great but is also suitable for small spaces and durable enough to stand up against even the most rambunctious kiddos. You may have to do a little searching, but it will save you plenty of headaches in the long run.
4. Be Realistic About The Amount of Stuff Your Family Needs
This is especially important if your family is downsizing from a larger place. Some of your things need to go! This doesn’t just mean your kids’ stuff either. All of those DVD’s that you never watch, the countless shoes that you never wear, the toys your kids have outgrown. These things are better suited in the donation box at your church or your local thrift stores than they are at your small place.
After your initial purge, you have to keep the momentum going. Buying one of those adorable little play kitchens or large train sets for your kids may sound like fun now, but they could lead to disastrous space issues. Don’t buy more clothes than your closets can handle and try not to start any large projects unless you are certain that they won’t sit, unfinished, in some corner of your place for six months.
5. Go Out!
Living in a small space can be claustrophobic with kids. They don’t have a lot of room to run around and play, you and your partner don’t have tons of privacy, and constantly feeling like you’re on top of everyone else is a common occurrence. This makes getting out of the house as often as possible super important.
Take advantage of the city around you. Go on picnics, take walks in your neighborhood, enjoy the park! If your apartment is more of a complex rather than one building, odds are, there are a couple amenities you can enjoy with your kids. Whether that is a community pool or a small little playground. You don’t have to spend all of your time indoors, get outside, enjoy your community, and have fun with your family somewhere where you aren’t so confined.