Throughout our married life our homes have consisted of two extremes; very small or very large. We have owned three homes, the first we reinvented and sold (a story for another day), the last two(8 sq metres-Aust) we renovated and then added huge (house size) extensions.
Reflecting on Multiple Mum’s deliberatings; sell and buy larger, extend, or to make better use of current space? I thought I’d share some of my thoughts and experiences.
Perhaps you’ve looked at moving but have decided it is currently best to consolidate financially and re-visit moving in a few years. Perhaps you’ve considered extending but finances also dictate it is best to wait. Or your current location is not where you really want to stay longer term, perhaps you feel it is not something you wish to undertake, it certainly is not for the faint hearted;) I’ve travelled this road twice and it is not the best option for all.
Your ‘gut’ decision at present is to stay as is, but…there seems to be mess constantly, the children keep growing and taking up more space, plus they keep accumulating more ‘stuff’, everything does not have a home, you are irritated, your husband is irritated and the children are oblivious. You are slowly and surely going ‘stark raving crazy.’ What to do?
Once you have made this decision to stay for the short/long term duration you need to firmly keep your goal in mind. You also need to keep a firm grip on your attitude, do not surround yourself with people who allow you to host a pity party. Do not visit places that make you dissatisfied, stay away from shops, magazines, anything that contributes to a feeling of dissatisfaction with the path you have discerned. Instead of dwelling on the negatives, focus on the positives of living in a small home. Your family will bond very closely (survival necessitates this;). You learn to: get along with one another, let small irritations go, pick up after yourselves, develop good cleaning routines, deal with behaviours that may slide in a larger home, keep noise to a minimum. These and more are life and relationship skills that are wonderful to develop.
Timing It may appear that as the children are growing rapidly you must have more space now! The bigger they are the more you notice, but it is tolerable, the crunch comes when they develop adult bodies in their tween/teen years and yet I know of families who still make it work then.
Take a good look at how you use your house. Every family uses their space differently, reflecting their own unique family culture. For one family having a kitchen that functions well is important, for another the emphasis may be on the entertainment area, another, easy access to art supplies will be important. Living space will be the most used and the lack of this the most difficult to cope with, you may consider sacrificing a bedroom for living space. Can your room serve more than one purpose? Are you using your house to its best capacity?
Not only consider your rooms but your furniture. Is it big and chunky, taking up more footprint and adding to the feeling of smallness, do you have a dresser with only a couple of drawers? Consider a tall boy with more dressers. Is going to the ceiling an option? Look at the footprint of each item and consider if it is making the best use of what is needed? Can it be taller, wider? Hang hooks behind doors, install shelves around walls higher up. Do you really need that item? Does your child need a desk now? Can you store it, sell it, buy another in a few years when you do need it? Beds, can you look at better options, a sleeping mat, a hammock;)? We’ve had four children in the one small room a couple of times, once we had bunks, a single (with drawers under) and a trundle. Another time we had a cot size bed in place of the trundle (far easier than a trundle).
Are you a visual person? If so any clutter will really bother you, hang doors and curtains. Go through your home and seriously decluter, asking yourself the hard questions. Am I using this, do I need it, if perhaps not now but in the future (ie baby items) can I store it? I regularly de-clutter as well as do a major purge twice a year during our seasonal cleaning. What habits are you developing in your children? There are many websites devoted to de-cluttering tips, I found Don Aslett’s, ‘Clutter’s Last Stand’ extremely helpful. Thoughtfully consider what you bring into the home, perhaps for this season garage sales are not the place for you unless sourcing a particular item. Give particular thought to what gifts you buy, perhaps a ticket to Dreamworld would serve better than a collection of Bratz.
*Disclaimer: Although I know life is simpler without clutter it does creep into our home sometimes.
Storage is a must, invest in good storage boxes/bags, look at every possible area as potential. Store under beds, do you have enough shelving in cupboards? Maximise all wall space, floor to ceiling. How are items stored? Did you know you can fit more towels in if you roll them.
* A couple of tips for those living in ‘renovators delights’ and on rural properties.
From my friend Reb who with her family of eight, lives in a cabin (5sq feet- Aust ).
-“Don’t put things off because it is only temporary, if hooks will make your life easier, hang hooks.”
True, when we built our pantry I wondered why I had put up with the cupboard for so long.
– Mine: if possible buy a shipping container, the best storage item we ever bought.
I really encourage you to visit Sarah Susanka of the Not So Big House fame for wonderful ideas and tips .