Since we’re coming into a new year, and getting close to 9 months of living in a tiny house with a toddler, we’ve been doing a little reflecting on how we feel about the tiny house. Now that it’s daily life and totally normal, it’s easier to notice the small details that either make or break it. So here’s our take:
Cheap cost of living is still a major win. We installed a ceiling fan, and even with running all of our appliances and fan, our electricity bill is super low. Of course, rent is basically zero as well. This has allowed us greater flexibility in our time and work, which we’re thankful for!
Living in a house built by us has been BOTH rewarding and frustrating. It’s been great to enjoy some of the design features we wanted, and it’s great to know we can add a shelf, or paint a wall when we feel like it. It’s also frustrating when the kitchen sink leaks, or we have a GIANT rain storm and have water seeping onto the floor and there’s no one else to blame (or fix it!) but David. I have way less stress than David does, since I did hardly anything construction-wise. But in giant storms or small issues, David carries a lot more emotional (and time) responsibility than I do. Continue reading
How to celebrate Christmas in a tiny house, with a toddler:
- Keep the decor minimal: We put up twinkle lights, and had some Advent candles for him to blow out during Advent. We only hung up the stockings on Christmas eve.
2. Get an outdoor tree or a small tree: Our tree DID have more decorations, but toddler liked to play with them…
3. If you need more intense Christmas spirit — visit family with bigger houses (and more storage space) who have lots of Christmas decorations and a big Christmas tree.
4. (Probably most important) Live in the Southern Hemisphere, and spend all your time outside, playing in the sprinkler, playing soccer, visiting the beach, or digging in the sandpit. And only give outdoor toys (and edible snacks!) for Christmas presents. 🙂
But seriously, one of the wonderful things about a tiny house is you can’t go crazy spending lots of money on seasonal decor you then have to figure out where to store, or lots of toys and gifts. Christmas becomes a lot simpler and a lot more about making food and hanging out with family (and Jesus, you know) than about all the stuff. Sometimes I did feel a little sad we couldn’t have a bigger tree…but at the end of the day it was still Christmas and it was still fun. 🙂
Here are a few more FAQ’s about our tiny house… feel free to leave a question in the comments!
Where does your baby play?
Our one year old mostly plays outside. It’s winter here in South Africa, which means most days it’s between 55-75F and sunny outside. At night it can get down to freezing (maybe only 2 or 3 weeks out of the winter) and some early mornings we have frost. So early mornings are probably the hardest, since we’re cooped up inside before it warms up enough to play outside. Our 14 month old entertains himself inside with his toys and our tupperware/pots and pans cupboard mostly.
Since we knew from the beginning we’d have a toddler when we built the tiny house, we tried to make it as child-friendly as possible. When you have a small space, you can’t just block off part of the house to make it baby-friendly…and spending your whole life saying, “No! Don’t touch that!” is not very fun either. So we tried to design things so we could minimize the amount of “nos” in the house. Here are a few examples:
All our plugs except for two are high up on the wall.
We’ve officially lived in our house for 6 weeks now. We love it. We’ll see if we still love it 6 months from now, but I have a feeling we will. When we were researching tiny-house living, I didn’t see much about families in tiny houses. Mostly single people, or couples. I figured other people might be interested, since inevitably when people hear we live in a tiny house (with a one year old) they say, “But how do you….(insert normal daily activity here)”.
So this is an attempt to answer that. It also feels very strange writing this, since we live in 16m2 house with two lofts and only one child… when very many people in our country live with more people in equally small (or smaller!) spaces, and no one wonders how they do it. Living in a smaller space than our income appears to afford seems strange to people… but living in a small space is the norm for lots of people, and we had the privilege of choosing this, when they don’t. Continue reading
Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbra Kingsolver (source: NPR)
As we walked into Lent this year, we decided to try being locavores for 40 days- only eating food grown within an hour of where we live, preferably on small farms. There were a number of threads that came together that led to this idea:
One is that I had just read Barbra Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, where her family living in the South East of the USA on a small farm decided to grow as much of their own food as possible, and only buy the extra from a 70 mile radius. The book is a memoir about all the things they learned during that practice. Continue reading
Snoozing in the wrap in the Dubai airport at 2-ish months.
There are very many pressing social issues that are far more worthy of a blog post, but I don’t have the emotional energy for them, so instead, I’ll tell you some more about our simple living journey. One of the things people often said when we talk about trying to value simplicity more in our lives was, ‘Yes, but wait until you have a kid. Your stuff will just multiply.” Which is true. We definitely have way more junk with a kid than we did without. But, we had life circumstances (some of our own intentional creating, others– it just kind of happened that way) that forced us to have less baby stuff. Continue reading
I’ve written before about this tension I always feel as a TCK between trying to be content where I am, and at the same time missing the place or the culture that I am without.
I read books about the spiritual discipline of rootedness, of staying in one place and getting connected even though it isn’t perfect (heck, I’ve even written about that!) … but it’s still always a struggle. I live in rented apartments and I get itchy and long to paint the wall, to pick out my own dishes, and not just use ones from Goodwill (because why invest?) I get tired of feeling like there’s no place that’s really mine. I want to build a nest. I want to borrow sugar from my neighbor.
But the other part of me wants to travel the world and live out of a backpack, and never settle anywhere. The thought of getting a mortgage makes me feel like I’m signing a death notice (even though I know you can always sell a house). As I accumulate stuff I am mentally thinking, “Will this fit in a suitcase?”
So I loved getting to read Tsh’s new book At Home in the World, where she wrestles with some of these same ideas. Tsh’s book is all about their family adventure of traveling around the world in a year. They go to China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Morocco, France, Italy, Croatia, Kosovo, Turkey, Germany and England…. all with three kids, all with one backpack each. Continue reading
As my husband and I have been on this journey of trying to think more critically about our stuff, one of the voices I have appreciated is Tsh Oxenrider. If you haven’t checked out her blog “the Art of Simple” it’s worth a skim. Most lifestyle blogs have you getting to the end of a post and thinking, “I need this, oh gosh, and I need that. Aw, and why don’t I have this other thing, too?” Whereas with the Art of Simple, you finish and think, “How can I simplify and embrace contentment where I am?” Continue reading
There’s this thing that a lot of bloggers (also ) I follow do at the end of the year– reflect on “what worked” and what didn’t. It’s a great tool to reflect over the past year and integrate new things into the year ahead. Since things have been pretty serious around the blog the past few months, I’m going to be sprinkling in some more stories on our experiments with minimalism starting with my variation of the 2016 “what worked for me”: the things we did without in 2016… Continue reading