Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Cultivating Contentment

After we announced Dylan's pending arrival, I was surprised by the number of comments we received regarding our new "need" for a bigger home.

"Will you be moving to a bigger home, then?"

"Too bad your house is so small.  You're going to need more space now."

"Where are you going to put the baby once he's here?"

Truthfully, I'd never considered our home to be on the small side; at nearly 1350 square feet, that's approximately 225 square feet per person, including the baby.  We've known many larger families living comfortably in much smaller quarters.  The catch, however, lies in the fact that our home only has two bedrooms, which is somewhat limiting for a family of 6.  Had all of our spark plugs been of the same gender, we could easily put two sets of bunk beds in a bedroom and be fine.  But once the kids are older, L will eventually need her own quarters. 

I will admit that, after about 15 weeks of morning all day sickness, I began to grow frustrated with our house.  I was unable to keep up with cleaning; the boys' room was a pile of box springs floating among a foot-deep river of toys; the baby's crib was smushed up against the couch in the living room while L's mattress languished on the floor beside it; and the general atmosphere inside our home was overrun with piles of dishes and laundry.  I began to think that, perhaps, our home WAS too small for us (the first time any such thought had ever crossed my mind).

In reality, I simply needed to change my perspective...and rearrange some furniture.  

My brother and his wife lent us a set of bunk beds for the boys, which could not have come at a better time.  My parents graciously drove the set over and hauled away the broken-down twin beds that the boys had been using.  We scooped up the river of toys and books, reshelving, reorganizing, and rehoming as much as we could.  Suddenly, I could walk across their gorgeous, bare carpet without stepping on Legos as I went.  They had access to all of their books, shelved and arranged for easy perusal, and all of their toys now live in their closet within easy reach of short arms and where, if someone comes to call spur-of-the-moment, I can simply pull the doors closed.  We were even able to store an extra mattress under the bunk beds in case L wants to stay in their room until the baby sleeps through the night.

Since the boys' closet became the toy room, we were able to clear some of L's toys out of the living room to make better use of the space there.  We put her mattress up on a bedframe (salvaged from the boys' captain's bed) complete with drawers, where we were able to store blankets, toys, and a few outfits.  Her bed and the crib now fit nicely out there, and in a sense the entire space has now become a third bedroom.  If we feel really motivated, I think we could even partition it off later on when the need arises.

One of the biggest aids to sorting the bedroom shortage has been the development of our family closet.  I first learned of this idea from a blog post I stumbled across a few months back.  I already had some open-faced cubicles, so I bought one more set and combined them in the master closet to make an easy-to-access clothing storage system.  I can fold all of our clean laundry on our bed and then simply put it away on the shelves.  Each spark plug has his own row where he can easily grab socks, shirts, shorts, or whatever the day's activities demand.  Everything is visible, and since I can now oversee everything, we've yet to run into the annoying, "but I have nothing clean to wear!" argument that used to crop up so often prior to the family closet.  Spark plugs cannot hide dirty clothing in the back of dresser drawers; mis-matched socks no longer go missing under the bed.

I'm once again content with the size of our home.  It may not ever be as clean and organized as I would prefer, and some day I'd love an actual school room, basement, or sewing room, but those are definitely wants and not needs.  I wonder how often our wants could be satisfied by making do with what we currently have on hand?  I know there are times when things desired are also things of need, and there's nothing wrong with upgrading.  How grateful I am, though, that we were blessed with a few things that helped me to regain my contentment.

Imagine my surprise when, just the other day, I read about a family of five who believed that their 4-bedroom home was too small for their lifestyle!  It's very likely that their home was small on the square footage despite the number of bedrooms, though, so I cannot say for certain that they were wrong in thinking they needed more wiggle room.  I did get a good laugh out of the article, however!



  1. Great reminders! I read in a Linda Dillow study about a couple with one bathroom for their whole apartment complex (I believe in Hungary). That made me be quiet about our one bathroom house for a little bit but I still complain about it when really it's only inconvenient a couple of times a week. Plus having a smaller house is a great incentive to keep decluttering all the time! :) I guess it's kind of like the guy who complained about having no shoes until he met a man who had no feet.

  2. "Rack 'em and Stack 'em" my dad always said!! :) Small abodes usually give birth to great creativity. And contentment :)

  3. Hey!Thank you so much for your original post! Its was so helpful and I love the way these turned out! Thanks again!
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  4. It's all a matter of perspective. Only in America would your home be deemed as too small. In many other countries a family home can be one room. Cudos on being creative and making your space work for your needs!

  5. I read that book, too, Julie! It was very good and very convicting. Danielle, love it! Lisa, so, so true. We are truly spoiled here, and yet we often neglect to realize it.