I am loving contributing to the Small Family Homes series. It makes me step outside of what I would normally write, and gives me an assignment, not unlike school (I love school), to put my own words and thoughts to. This month the title is "Necessities of Small Family Living". At first thought, the obvious response is to list all of the items in our home that make living small more comfortable or even possible...
Our Wall Bed
Our Wall Bunk Beds
An Expanding Dining Table
A Quiet Dishwasher
A Cordless Skinny Vacuum
Fast Drying, Thin but Cozy Towels
Wall Mounted Book Shelves
Canvas Toy Bins
But these are all just things, and truly the biggest necessity to living small as a family is our commitment to it. Our initial resolve (or stubbornness) to stay in our small space has evolved into a Minimalist-ish philosophy of constantly evaluating how we spend our time and money to maximize our time together as a family, and carve out time for adventures. More than what specific things we have to live small, it's more about what we don't have.
Less is More
Learning to live with less things has been a long, slow process for us. We didn't instantly have an edited and organized home that manages to house 4 people (and our house is still imperfect and in need of more organization and editing!). But owning less things means less time shopping, cleaning, and maintaining things which creates more time, space and energy to do the things that bring us the most joy. Adventures, especially travel, is what keeps us excited and motivated to stay in our space and has been the greatest gift of living small.
Our relentless pursuit of less things is also combined with a choice to re-frame our thinking to see our small space as giving us so much . While this may sound crazy but instead of focusing on what we don't have, like a second bedroom, mudroom or a backyard, we focus on the many things we do have... We live in a beautiful and inspiring city with mountains and ocean, a walkable, diverse and vibrant neighborhood, beautiful parks, in-suite laundry, and good coffee. I think that's why camping has appealed to us so much lately. Taking lessons from camping of slowing down and simplifying into our daily lives. When camping we have one wrought iron pan and one cup each and we have to pee outside, but we are having so much fun! Returning home after camping we realize how many modern luxuries we have but how little we need to enjoy ourselves.
While part of it has been an overall philosophy of fewer things, this is our practical list of questions that have served as a really useful tool in keeping our home un-cluttered and functional. It also helps when you keep your partner in check by reminding them of these questions in moments of questionable judgement. Trevor is always checking me on kids clothes or home accessories and I'm always questioning him on dry-fit clothes or sports equipment. We constantly ask ourselves the following, and it is probably our biggest necessity for Small Family Living:
Do I really need this?
Could I wait to purchase it?
Is there something I currently own that could achieve the same purpose?
Is it beautiful and useful?
(If it's clothing) Can I name 4 outfits involving this piece?
Following the One in One out rule... so what is leaving if I am buying this piece?
This post was written for inclusion in the September collection of the Small Family Homes Blog Community. Read below for more writings on living small from our community of writers. Check back next month for a new topic and posts in the series and follow our community board on Pinterest for the latest small homes and family minimalism pins!
Justice Pirate-- "7 Simple Living Must-Haves" : When simplicity seems so far away or impossible to embrace, you realize it is the best and easiest way.
Little Bungalow-- "Small Space Essentials" : My five favourite items for making small space living more enjoyable.
Real Food Simple Life-- " Furniture Free Living: A Necessity in our Small Family Home" : Why our large family decided to go furniture free and how it helps us thrive in a small family home.
A Life Shift-- "10 Must-Haves for Small-Space Family Living" : What is essential to how we live compared to families with more space?
Tiny Ass Camper-- "Our Essentials for Thriving in a Tiny Space" : Reflections on what skills have become our essentials for thriving in less than 100 sq. ft.
Shelley Vanderbyl-- "Home Design for Happiness" : Artist gives 10 ways to design your space for happiness.
RISING*SHINING-- "Necessities in Our Smallish Home" : The tangible and intangible things that keep our home functional and enjoyable.
Fourth & West-- "Hashtag Flexibility" : If one characteristic has punctuated our life in a small home, it is flexibility.