I'm So Glad We Decided To Downsize. Small Houses Deserve More Credit.

by Sara Farrell Baker
Originally Published: 
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It’s a tiny house. Well, not a legit tiny house. But it’s small. It’s a ranch with no basement, so it’s just one floor. It kind of feels like an apartment some days, but without loud upstairs neighbors who cook smelly food. In our small house lives my husband and me, our two children, our two cats, and our one dog.

We plan on adding to our family one day, and maybe adding to it one more time after that. I’m not sure that’s always going to be the most comfortable situation, especially because I birth enormous children. Both of them are tall, like my husband and me. So we are looking at possibly six enormous people, two cats, and one dog sharing our small house.

There are two bathrooms, so hallelujah to that. And there are enough bedrooms that only the two kids we like the least will have to share. But our common areas are limited — a kitchen and a small living room. End of list. So we are either going to be always together or still-kind-of together. There isn’t much getting away from each other in a small house.

And those are all things we love about it.

In moving into our small house last year, we have had to pare down a lot of our possessions. Our furniture, our books, toys, knick-knacks, clothes, kitchen gadgets — every category of “stuff” has suffered cuts. Multiple cuts. Because no matter how much we get rid of, a few months later what remains still feels like too much. You can’t have a lot of crap in a small house. Otherwise, you end up with shit stacked to the ceiling, and you find your cat that you thought ran away in a cabinet behind your rice cooker and Instapot.

So we keep the things we need and the things we love. You might say we keep the things which ignite a positive feeling. And we are constantly learning what it is that we need and love, because the more you whittle down what you have, the more obvious it becomes when something no longer “fits.”

Living in a small house has made parenting easier by a lot — like a huge margin of easier. When we lived in a house with multiple stories, my options during the day were limited. I could stay on the same floor as my kids, usually the one that had all their toys, and I could be as productive as that floor of the house allowed me to be. I wasn’t doing chores in the other parts of the house. And if I did decide to leave them to their own devices while I cleaned the bathrooms or cooked a meal, it meant constantly running up and down the stairs to check on them and diffuse arguments. It was great for my Fitbit, but not my sanity.

But in a small house, if I need to check on my kids, I turn my head a little to the left. The whole house is baby-proofed AF to give me peace of mind, so I’m able to let my kids do their thing while I do my thing and remain fairly confident that everyone is alive and no one is setting fires. The matches are on a really high shelf, and I could hear someone striking one from across the house anyway. We all have the freedom to go about our day. As a result, my kids have learned to entertain themselves and are becoming more independent. And I’ve learned how to cook dinners without pulling back a plastic film and popping them in the microwave.

As a whole, my family has learned to be neater. In a small house, if you leave all your shit out, it looks like a hellhole pretty quickly. At our bigger house, we had various junk piles building up all over the place. By the time it felt like we absolutely had to clean to keep from drowning in the mess, it was too late. It was always a huge ordeal to pick everything up and clean, which made doing so even less appealing. Now? Our kids put their toys away before bed. I can tidy everything in a few minutes if I work fast and throw some death metal on. The entire house can be cleaned, like actually cleaned with a vacuum and dust rags and Windex, in an hour or two.

Between the cleaning, the decorating, the general filling it with stuff, living in a bigger house ran our life. In a small house, running it is an appropriately sized part of my life. And while we can’t fit a lot of stuff in it or many more people and definitely not any more cats, we fit a lot more time for the things that matter into our day — time spent enjoying family, trying new things, and having friends over. And naps — I have time to take naps sometimes. There were no naps for Mommy at the bigger house. That’s why we had to move.

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