It’s been a few weeks since we stopped renting the little front house, and we’ve adjusted to life back in our solo tiny cottage. The last time we lived in under 400 sqft, West was barely walking. Now, at 19 months old, he’s running everywhere, climbing everything, and reaching further and higher than we expected for his age. I always heard people say that this stage is exhausting. It is, but more than that, it’s completely dazzling.
As part of the shift in our living situation, we’ve been faced with some new challenges, changes to our sleep and nursing routines, and the need for modified storage and use of space.
WORK - The adjustment back into our single tiny house hasn’t been without it’s minor hiccups, of course. For example, my home-office is great for editing photos, developing creative concepts, and doing administrative work, but I’ve had to leave the house numerous times to write at nearby restaurants. That costs a bit of money, but it’s nothing compared to renting an external office (which I’m not intersted in anyway, regardless of the price-tag).
RELATIONSHIP - Adam and I have gotten in more tiffs than normal, as we’re in each others faces non-stop. It’s my job 24/7 to run our small business, and financially support our family and our futures. It’s Adam’s job 24/7 to be with West. (Thankfully, those worlds overlap, and we help each other out.) But the silver lining from those infrequent arguments is that Adam and I both feel the weight of each others’ responsibilities, which helps us to better understand and sympathize with one another. Overall, I believe it’s far more unifying than dividing. It’s just a lot, as it is for any family, regardless of the size of their home.
MODIFIED SLEEP / NURSING ROUTINE
West has never really slept in a crib overnight. For his first year, he had a mini-crib for his frequent naps as an infant, but he slept with us via a co-sleeper while we bed-shared and I nursed him on-demand. When we set up his room in the front house, West was 13+ months old. At that stage, we felt like we’d be taking a step backwards to begin crib-training him as a toddler. So we got a convertible bed, which could be set up as a crib, a toddler bed, or a daybed. We set it up in daybed format, and we used it for his once-daily naps, and whenever family or babysitters put him to bed at night. This encouraged a bit more independence in his sleep routines, and I began to wean him slowly.
NURSING - Between months 15-18, I reduced West’s nursing sessions so we were just breastfeeding at night and in the mornings. Then, at 18 months, I stopped nursing him altogether. (Sob!) At that point, we also gave up the front cottage.
BED - Rather than relocate our wardrobe back out to the garden shed yet again, we decided to scrap our plan for a fold-out toddler bed / toddler workspace in the bedroom closet alcove, and simply use West’s crib mattress on the floor at night. (He naps on our bed, in the car seat, or in the stroller, depending on the events of each day.) Obviously having a mattress on the floor is not design-y. But it works perfectly, our son sleeps in it happily, and I see no reason to be dissatisfied with it. During the day, we simply prop the mattress up into our closet. (We loaned the convertible crib frame to a friend in need, in the hopes that we’ll get to use it again in the future.)
To help West fall in love with his bed, we got a few new fitted sheets in patterns we knew he’d enjoy. It works wonderfully, and he runs to his bed with his books excitedly at night, babbling about what he sees on his bedding, and pointing out his favorite parts.
He’s safe, he’s content, and the process is easy. If West wakes up at night, he either soothes himself back to sleep, or he asks us to bring him into our bed (where he falls back asleep immediately). We don’t mind. This won’t last forever, and we’ll enjoy it while we can.
Sometimes West rotates in his sleep and knocks Adam and I in our faces. Sometimes I roll into the tiny gap between our bed and the built-in bookshelf and get comically and uncomfortably wedged there. And sometimes Sophee traps some or all of our legs with her warm and floppy beagle body. But I don’t care. My greatest joy is waking up to our whole family sharing this little bedroom. (The backache always fades.)
I know that much of this will be considered unacceptable to many people— particularly in the opinionated worlds of parent blogging and home decor. But we are functioning smoothly and happily, so I’m sharing our experience publicly in case it helps anyone else who’s living tiny (or considering living tiny) with their family. There are many benefits:
We’re back on track to save money for retirement and for West’s education.
We get to live in a city and neighborhood that we love, but otherwise couldn’t afford in a big house.
It takes mere minutes to tidy up our entire home and garden.
I believe our physical proximity to one another makes us closer emotionally.
And I gotta say— nothing is ever boring.
We didn’t have to make any adjustments to accommodate the crib mattress, but we did have to shuffle and donate some items in order to absorb West’s playroom. But that ended up being a relief anyway. We are now running more efficiently than ever, which is extremely helpful, because life has been insane lately. (Don’t get me started on April 2018… good riddance.)
TOYS - We gave away enough items to free up 2 of the 3 cubbies that are built-in to the side of the couch, and West’s toys now fit in there via little tubs that we bring out in shifts.
Some of his bigger items, such as his piano, collapsible toddler tent which encloses his folding work table + chairs, along with his bike and Green Truck live out on the covered porch. (They all fit in the house, but there’s no need to bring them in— even when it’s lightly raining.)
BOOKS - We relocated our son’s books from jute baskets to a 3-tiered rolling cart. West wheels it around— both inside and outside— throughout the day as though he’s a miniature librarian. It’s the cutest.
So! Life feels better than ever. We know we’ll have to make some changes again in the future, but thus far we’ve had great success with living in the moment, and being optimistic about adapting to whatever tomorrow holds.