These days, living in a small space is often celebrated, but when it comes to growing your family, making it all work with limited space can be daunting. There are plenty of families who travel the world, decorate a family-friendly space effortlessly or make a small space work with one child, but what happens when your family of three expands to a family of four? How do you make it work long term? When we found out we were expecting our second child, we got a lot of questions about whether or not we would move. The concept of moving in my pregnancy seemed so wild and unnecessary to me. Of course we would make our two bedroom home work for our soon-to-be family of four. Here’s how we’re doing it…
Embrace that it’s a family space.
This should be the first design rule new parents learn: embrace that it’s a family space. But really, you’ve gotta accept the fact that there will most likely be baby gear and toys in the major living spaces or you’re going to drive yourself crazy! That being said you can choose to be particular about what items are in those spaces. For us we’ve always been open to more of the design forward educational toys making their way to our living room shelves. It’s seemed to be a good balance!
Acknowledge that the space will need to grow with your family.
The way our space is currently set up for our four-year-old and newborn won’t stay this way forever. We have a bassinet in mine and my husbands room intended for the first six months, a crib in the kids’ room for after that time period, and we fully acknowledge that once our newborn is in a “big girl bed,” we will most likely need to switch to bunks in order to make their room and our space work. So at best we have about two years of this set up before we have to rearrange, but that’s not bad if you ask me. I think a lot of families get hung up on needing the perfect set up today that also works in five years. Once you accept that that is not realistic, you’ll relieve a lot of pressure!
Find some sacred space for you and your spouse.
Aside from the temporary newborn bassinet, mine and my husbands space is just ours – no toys or kid decor allowed. I think this is really important when it comes to nurturing our partnership and making space (both physically and time wise) for each other. Have at least a small area to help you always remember this family started with you two so that you can keep the romance alive!
Baskets, lots of baskets.
When our first son was a baby, I thought I’d have all the wooden toys in the world and that I’d never mind if they were out and about because they were all so well designed. Wrong! Our son loves cars and trains and legos and more cars and more trains and more legos and I love that he loves these toys. A lot of them are ugly and plastic but none of that matters because they make him happy, keep him entertained and at the end of the day they can all be thrown into a cute basket. Win!
Get rid of the clutter.
Despite all the toy talk, we really do try to get rid of what we are no longer using – for the adults and the kids. Swapping with friends, handing things down, or donating items to your local charities is always a great way to give back and to keep your space clean.
Be intentional with what you bring in.
Any parents who are welcoming their second child are going to have some things they learned from their first in their back pocket – registry must-haves that you most certainly do not need, baby gear that was not worth the juice squeezed or better designed pieces they can’t imagine parenting without. Listen to your gut when it comes to what you actually need (this time we skipped a changing table and rocking chair) and be intentional with what you’re bringing into your space for the entire family!
Invest in the right pieces.
Once you establish your overall game plan with making your two bedroom work for your family of four, be realistic about what you’re spending your money on. Since we know we will need bunk beds eventually we went with a more affordable mini crib rather than the tempting convertible cribs on the market. Of course they make total sense if you have the right size space, but for us it was mini crib all the way!
Keep things neutral.
This comes back to your personal style, but one way we’ve found our space welcoming to little ones without compromising our aesthetic is by keeping things neutral. Kids toys are always going to have pops of color, which we love, but if we’re able to keep most of the furniture and decorations neutral (read lots of plants) it really helps the space flow well and not feel overwhelmed by kid stuff!
Find ways to separate your kids’ space.
Since our kids are sharing their room we decided to make each of their sleeping areas ultra personalized to them with wallpaper and bedding. This breaks up their room in a way that gives each of them their own space and ownership of that space without putting up a wall.
A large, multi-functional dining room table.
At the moment we still have desks – one in our living room for our son and one in our bedroom for myself, but more often than not we end up doing our work / school work at our large dining room table. This table makes hosting more of an option for our family in a small space and allows the space to be more functional outside of mealtimes too!
How have you guys made your small spaces work for your family?