Friday, March 1, 2013

how we fit a toddler into our tiny house life

Our house is just under 500 square feet.  But due to an uninsulated roof (and no desire to spend money insulating it, as this house was never intended to be permanent and we want to save our money to build another house) the upstairs gets way too hot to use during the day.  So during the day the babes and I spend our time in a 10X20 room.  This is challenging, to say the least.  The biggest struggle is at nap time, when I can’t make any noise because the babes sleeps in a portable crib right in the middle of the room.   Other than that, I have been surprised at how few “accessories” our little guy needs.  I’ve also come up with a few really helpful space-saving solutions, which I thought I’d share.

1.     Pack and play crib-- This is his playpen, nap spot, and time out spot.  It’s a playroom/nursery that we can fold up and move when we need the space.  He does have a regular crib, but that is upstairs so he only uses it at night.

2.     Chair-top highchair—This is awesome.  It attaches right to a regular chair, which can be pushed under the table when not being used.  It also converts to a booster seat when he’s big enough.  And it’s super portable; we bring it with us to family dinners.

3.     Changing pad set up—we got a changing pad from Ikea, and set up an area around our washer as a changing station.  When I need to change him, I set the pad on the washer, which happens to be the perfect height.  Then it goes back on the wall when we’re done so I have access to the washer.  The big downside here is that there is no way to strap the babes in for safety—I make sure I’m always standing right in front of him and I never leave him laying alone.  It’s worked for him, but I don’t know how well it would work for a younger baby.

4.     Carrier instead of a stroller--  He loves it, and Daniel has lost like 15 pounds since he started toteing the babes around during chores every evening.  So it’s actually a baby carrier and exercise machine in one.  Total space saver.

all his clothes fit in the red bins

5.     Clothes/ toys-- honestly, the babes spends most of his days in a diaper and a shirt.  It’s hot here.  He has maybe 7 outfits total?  That is more than enough for him, although I do have to keep on top of laundry.  As for toys, he has a few but they really don’t keep his attention for long.  He prefers to be outside playing with dirt, rocks, and sticks.  So we put up a gate around our back patio and now that is his domain.

6.     Baby-proofing-- This is something that realistically we just could not do.  There is no way to put up obstacles and nowhere to move all of our bookshelves/ pantry items/ etc; our kitchen cabinets don’t even have doors to secure.   We have a baby gate on the stairs and covers over the outlets.  For the rest, we use the method from the book Love and Logic Magic for Early Parenting, by Jim Fay. A friend recommended it and it works super well for us.  Basically, we started very early training the babes to recognize a cue (we use “uh-oh”) that signals stop/don’t touch/don’t continue with your activity.  If the babes doesn’t stop, we immediately pick him up and move him to a time out spot.   This method seems too simple to work, but I was shocked at how quickly he started to understand.  It did require a LOT of attention and dedication for the first week or so, but it was worth it. At this point, he doesn’t even bother to get into our cabinets, pantry, or bookshelves.  Best of all, we can use the cues wherever we are, which is a life saver when he is at granny’s house and makes a bee-line for the crystal vase. 

Any more suggestions?  I'd love to hear them!

1 comment:

  1. This is really great stuff, Cathleen! Joe and I have about 1,000 square feet and there's a good chance that we'll be here or in a similar sized space with two children, at least. I'm trying to minimize stuff from the beginning (I've been telling everyone "NO TOYS!") and I am definitely checking out this parenting book you mentioned. I'd much rather have the skills to train and encourage desirable behavior than just slapping barriers up all over the place.


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