This is definitely one of those things I can file under the things I never thought I'd do category of my life. When I was younger, and I was looking ahead to what life would hold for me, I had more than a few expectations. By thirty, I was sure I'd have a few kids, a home, a zip code closer to my parents. And as we all know, reality often ends up being a bit different than those expectations you always have for the way your life will look. Not that reality is worse…it's just different. And sometimes unexpected. But you have to learn to roll with it, right?
I never thought my husband and I would be room-sharing with an almost-three-year-old little girl. But we live in a very expensive part of the country (Southern California) and in order for me to stay at home with Eisley, we are on one income. This is where we lived before we were a family of three, and we just never left. Back before we had our daughter, we had a grown-up conversation about how once we were pregnant, we would obviously have to move to a bigger place. How could a family of three live comfortably in a 1-bedroom duplex? Surely it would be cramped and frustrating and completely illogical.
Well, time passed, along came Eisley, and we had another grown-up conversation about how once she was walking, we would obviously have to move to a bigger place. A child needs their own room and a yard to run around in, don't they? Surely it would be difficult and irresponsible and we'd be bursting at the seams by then.
More time passed, Eisley started walking and running and causing the typical toddler mayhem within the walls of our place, and we again had that grown-up conversation about how we really needed to look for a bigger place. But then we realized that all we ever really did was talk about how we needed a bigger place, but did we really? Weren't we making it work—quite happily even—for nearly three years?
I think one of my main frustrations hasn't even been the actual living in a small place as a family of three. It has been that I feel so alone when I look around at so many other people who have more. It's hard not to compare and feel less-than and dissatisfied when many people at my place in life have what I always (thought I) wanted and needed.
I cling tightly to the people I know who are also living with less. Friends with a 1-year-old daughter who are living with their parents until they can save up for a place of their own. Friends who at one point had two kids in a one-bedroom apartment while they searched for a home they could rent that they loved and weren't just settling on.
That's why I'm writing this post. Because I know there are people out there in small spaces—either by choice or out of necessity—and I want to encourage them to love where they live. And to also show people that it can totally work. You don't actually need as much as so many people tell you. I promise.
I thought I'd share how we have made it work for us, and share a couple photos of our cozy bedroom, as well. I have grown to absolutely love our bedroom, and I know it will be bittersweet when we do someday move to a larger place and Eisley has her own room!
Looking into our bedroom from the doorway, this is the view. Compared to some 1-bedrooms in this area, our bedroom is huge. We are able to fit our queen-size bed, a small nightstand, a changing table/dresser (it used to have a changing pad on top), a crib, a small trashcan, and our laundry bag into this one room. And, all things considered, we don't feel cramped at all. We were so lucky that this hand-me-down crib fit snugly on this part of the wall—right next to the heater, with only about an inch of space between the door when it is opened. Perfect! The photo at the very top of this post shows how the wall is decorated above her crib (pompoms and paper doily banners equal happiness, for sure!). And you can't see it from this angle, but there is a small trashcan and our laundry bag in the corner of the room, to the right of the dresser.
I'm sure some people may be curious about when we will transition her to a toddler bed, and my answer to that is…not until we absolutely have to. I think it would be difficult trying to get her to stay in her bed when we're only a few feet away. She hasn't tried to climb out of the crib yet, and she still fits in it just fine, so we're just going to make it last as long as we can.
Storage-wise, we keep 2 large bins under her crib that we bought from Ikea, and they hold extra linens, toys, and a few other random things. Because I don't have an exceptionally large wardrobe, all my clothes fit into 2 of the drawers in the changing table/dresser and 1/2 of our closet. Jay's clothes are in the other half of the closet, as well as in some built-in drawers right outside our room. Eisley's clothes (as mentioned in a previous post) fit inside a cabinet above the built-in drawers.
This is our side of the room, and we never make our bed completely, so I decided not to do it for the photo. (You're welcome. I think.)
Sleep-wise, we do just fine. It took Eisley a long, long time to sleep through the night (we're talking 17 months), which I think was due to both the room-sharing and also extended breastfeeding. But now that she's older she's a fantastic sleeper, never wakes during the night, and almost always even sleeps through Jay's alarm in the morning.
Obviously, at a certain point we will need to have more space. My husband and I have definitely had more of those grown-up conversations lately. We are hoping our family will grow at some point in the next year, and although I have already figured out in my head how we could add a newborn into our living space, I think logically we would really need another bedroom.
Still, I'm so, so grateful for what this experience has offered me. I never anticipated being someone who would not only survive, but enjoy sharing a room with a toddler…yet here I am. Being challenged to live with less has been something I will carry with me for the rest of my life. It has given me a much better perspective on what "less" even is—especially when we compare it to other parts of the world, or other times in history. Our "less" is so much more than many people could even dream of, so having my eyes opened to that fact is something that has definitely changed me and my expectations.
It's also nice to realize that something I always thought would be impossible or a really big deal is actually totally possible and not a big deal at all. It's so normal for us now, and I don't even really think about it being different from what other people have until I get all swoony over beautifully decorated nurseries on Pinterest. (I should really stay off Pinterest.)
I'd love to hear from anyone else who is making it work in a small space! Although I don't look down on anyone who has a large home and room to roam (especially when you live in a less-expensive part of the country), it feels good to band together with other people who are living with less, and encouraging people who may also be in the same situation someday down the road.
— Further reading: thoughts on home
— Further reading: thoughts on home