Not the Tape Measure Again! The process of living small with kids.


Should I be worried?” He asked.

“Why? Oh, it is the tape measure in my hand?” She said.

This is what happens when you want to live in a small space with kids, or at least it does to me. Until it works well, it drives me nuts. I also want it to look good, so that requires some trial an error on my part. We rented this Townhome as a stop on the downsizing express, but the longer we live here the more I am loving living in a small space.

So why yesterday on our way home from the park, did we drive through a neighborhood  that we pass on the way home from the park just to see what the homes looked like?

For the first time since we had our kids, I was not wanting to go down that suburban trail again. It was a beautiful neighborhood, manicured lawns, some of the homes had sculptures of children in their front landscape. The perfect suburban life, yes? Not for me. I saw stress, and money needing to be made to keep up with that lifestyle.

Maybe this feeling will go away, but I hope not. I long for an urban oasis, close to groceries, shopping, parks, and restaurants all within walking distance. We have some of that now, but within walking distance is hard to come by in Texas. Can we find that here and will it be affordable? I don’t know, but I will be doing my research to see if we can. Instead of waiting for retirement, we decided to create our own mini retirement and enjoy life now – thank you Tim Ferriss.

I work part-time doing freelance work from home, and a few times a month have speaking events, so where I live does not matter. My husband, though, has a regular schedule at his company so location is important. His drive changed from 1-1.5 hour commute each way, to 20 mins max in traffic when we moved. A game changer he calls it.

So back to the tape measure. If you are renting, you need to make smart decisions on what you purchase for this space. When you are downsizing, there are times when reprogramming ourselves is necessary. The need to redecorate for some of us is more about filling another need. The wonderful thing about a small space is that you can decorate it and make it yours, without falling into the trap of needing to fill every space with something.

J - 4 years Art Story Project
J – 4 years Art Story Project

The boys, rooms is small, and for two five year olds that creates a few challenges. I purchased two of these IKEA RAST dressers, and will make it over with paint from Miss Mustard Seed.

One of the most important things I have learned in the process is scale of furniture. If I can use a piece that has a smaller width, I will make more use of my space. Although I love vintage and antique furniture, we are in money saving and time saving mode so anything that is more streamlined gets my vote these days.

Downsizing is a process, and one that you will have to embrace on some level. What we have learned is that any area that is not just right will blow up on you over and over. The same happens in life. If you are downsizing in the hopes of staying home with kids, you can imagine your trouble spots. Embrace those bombs as they go off (or at least after you count to 100) and learn from them. Then just tweak them as you go, and you will create a perfect system for your family.

You will hear things like this coming from somewhere inside of you, “Why does this keep happening? I am trying so hard to prevent this mess.” It is not about being super organized, rather finding your sweet spot as a family so you can enjoy each other and stress about stuff less. Joshua Becker writes a great post about how to change your routine to reduce clutter.

My mother told me that her mother, Maude had a favorite saying. You see my mother’s father passed away when she was just 13, and she was the 3rd to the oldest of nine children. Her mother never took any assistance, rather started a sewing business in her home to care for her family. Remember Maude when you feel like it is just too much, “The dirt will be there when you are dead and gone.” It is a great lesson that too much worry over organization and cleaning of these large homes has many of us missing the point of why we thought we needed those homes in the first place.



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