I love to be space-savvy, to not hoard stuff and to be clever about how I fit our family of four into our tiny apartment. However, sometimes, when I am trying to cook a big dinner with no bench space, or attempting to bathe my kids and getting a leg cramp since there's nowhere to sit, I need to remind myself: we chose this. We chose this, and this is why:
Living where we are, we have more family time. We are close to my husband's work and the grad school where I study. Both of us can be home within 5 minutes. We are happier without transit time in bad traffic. In fact, my husband rides his bike to work and I often walk to class. Straight after class I can run home and cuddle my kids: no waiting necessary. It's awesome.
The size of the place we have chosen means we live within our means. Our city is expensive. We couldn't live here, or anywhere else near here, in a bigger place and still be able to make our budget work. By choosing a small space we are debt-free, we give money to people who need it more than we do, and save a little money every week. We have a buffer should anything happen to our finances. We feel at peace about our bank account, and that brings a peace into our home.
Money saved on housing means we can lead adventurous lives. We can travel overseas, go to see bands, the theater, take the kids to a butterfly farm. We can eat out and try new kinds of foods, we can go crazy at a local art auction and buy a painting we really love at the last minute. Wacky, spontaneous adventures are okay, they are something we have space for in our budget, because it's not being sapped by our housing costs.
Sure, a bigger place would mean we could stretch out, have more time to ourselves, and the kids would have more space to play. But why do we need those things? Is it for family harmony? We get that by being together because Mom and Dad can come home from work and school before 5 every day. Do we need space for peace? We have that because we are not over-extending ourselves. Are bigger places necessary for families to have more fun? No, actually they aren't - not if we go looking for that fun outside our home.
The fact is, even if my knees get tired and squished in the bathroom, all that I need is here: in these miniscule square feet that surround me. My husband, my kids, and a happy, peaceful life full of fun and togetherness. I chose it, and it is good.
Do you live in a small space with your family? What made you choose to do this?
(Image: Alison Gerber)