If you are living in a small space with a baby or toddler, or considering doing so, it can be all to easy to fall into a ‘grass is always greener’ approach. If only you lived further out of the city you could have more space, if only there was a backyard life would be easier. However, after nearly 2 years of living in a small apartment with Little M and The Hubster, I have discovered that there are some great benefits to living in a small space with a little one. Yes there are moments where you dream about having an extra room to hide alone in, but there are also pluses to living in a small space with children – and not only the fact that you can vacuum your whole home in 10 minutes flat!
1. Your child is always close to you – Little M can play independently, but easily supervised – I can cook in the kitchen and still peek through to the lounge to see what he is up to. I’m never far away when he needs to find me either. In the morning, it takes seconds to step from our bed to his room and at bedtime we can quickly retrieve a forgotten book or toothbrush from the next room. Depending on the size of your place, you may be able to skip the baby monitor altogether!
2. You can clean your home quickly – In some ways a small home can seem time consuming to clean, as you may have to move things out of the way more often to vacuum and dust. But ultimately it’s still much quicker to clean than a big house, as there is less floor space.
3. You accumulate less clutter – When space is limited, you can’t fill it with things you don’t need or use. If you want to buy something new, then something else has to go to make way for it – there’s no ‘chuck it in the attic’ fall back. You only keep the toys that your child actively plays with – when Little M stopped playing with his baby building bricks, in favor of ‘big boy’ Duplo, we traded them in at the second hand store. When The Hubster lost interest in his Electric Guitar hobby and started repairing model cars – onto ebay we went! You have to think more carefully before any purchase – is it really something you can benefit from? No more shopping on a whim! Everything in the home becomes more tidy and organized – to maximise space.
4. Your child is creative at play – Your child doesn’t need a playroom to be creative. Dens and caves can be made in the smallest of spaces. And kids don’t need rooms full of toys – sometimes too many toys can mean they don’t appreciate them properly. Even in our small space, Little M has plenty of toys – and he still often prefers to play with the kitchen utensils, or reorganize the spice jars!
5. You all learn to share and respect space – Little M’s play area, is also our living room, so toys can’t be left lying around permanently. He has learned to help pack away his toys at the end of the day, transforming the room from playroom, back to living room. Our kitchen table is also The Hubster’s hobby work area, so after working on his model cars, he packs everything away again. If I want to stay up and read, I use the kindle, instead of having the light on. We all adapt and respect each other (at least try to anyway…!)
6. You spend more time exploring – I often say to The Hubster that I am not a Stay-at-Home-Mummy, since I can’t remember the last time I spent a whole day at home! Little M and I go for adventures every day – to the park, the museums, exploring the neighborhood. We are admittedly lucky to live in a climate where we can do this year round – but even on a rare rainy day we like to go and stamp in puddles. In a small space you spend less time at home and more time exploring what’s right outside your doorstep. You also get to meet lots of people on your outings – making it sociable for you and for your little one.
7. You don’t have to commute to work – Often, when people choose to live in a small space with children, it is in order to stay in a city and be close to a work place. The Hubster can look back on his old commuting days and chuckle. Now he has a leisurely breakfast with me and Little M, before sauntering off on his 15 minute walk to work. In the evenings, it is a rare day when he is not home in time to see Little M before bed. Sometimes it is tempting to wistfully think about the extra space we could have in the ‘burbs’, but both of us shudder when we think of the long gone dreaded commute, and all thoughts of moving are forgotten.
8. To your child, your home is a palace – I remember as a child, my shared room with my sister seemed enormous – we used to plan all sorts of adventures in there! Revisiting as an adult, the room was really very ordinary sized. But children can see the extraordinary in the ordinary. They can make palaces behind the sofa and an Indian tepee with a sheet. At home children only need a cosy space to sleep and a little space to play – plus plenty of imagination!
Yes there are days when I dream of having more space. Days when I just sigh and imagine putting my feet up in a garden, while Little M scampers around me. There are days when I worry that Little M is ‘missing out’ somehow, by living in such a small space. And yes, one day living in a one bedroom apartment will just not suffice any more – after all bigger children need more space than little children. But in the meantime, the best things in life can’t wait for the perfect situation, or the perfect house. So instead I remind myself of all the reasons I love living in our small space. And I remember that to Little M our little home is just perfect.
Are there any other benefits of small space living with kids that I’ve missed? Are you considering having a baby in a small space?
Go forth and comment below!