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Big Family, Small House

We live in a small(ish), 1000 sq ft. California bungalow. When friends and family found out we were expecting twins, the first question that was on repeat is, when are you moving? Short answer, we didn’t (still not). Since I’ve been filling our quarantine time clearing out closets, cupboards, and rearranging all the things, I thought I’d share the long answer below because you know how I do.

We’ve since added another babe to the brood with one more to go, and we’re still wondering just how long we can make this house work for us. People not familiar with the rental market in California may be surprised (read: shocked) just how much rent is here. Add in trying to find a place that allows for pets and is in a decent school district (drama filled post for another time), you’re in for a needle in a haystack search. When we stumbled upon our house five(!!) years ago via CraigsList. We were wise to the market and put down our deposit minutes after touring because three other families had appointments immediately after us.

Of course we would love to buy but it’s a sellers market out here (juuuust now turning due to Corona-pocolypse) and anything even remotely in our price range is snapped up in cash by developers, is too tiny to work for our family long term, or is in one of those abysmal school districts. Here’s how we’re doing small space living without losing our minds.

There are two original bedrooms on the main floor that the kidlets share and we took over the converted attic as a master “suite”. Hardee Har Har. That renovation is a mess, probably the worst designed space I’ve seen in awhile but our bed fits, and well that is all the positive things I have to say. Ha! But seriously, it has made staying in our current home possible so for that I’m thankful.

We’ve had to do a number of sleep shakeups but currently the big kids are sharing a bunk in Hudson’s room while Ellis and Lucy are roomies in the “girls” room. New baby will be upstairs with us for his first year+.

Since we’ve squared away all of the sleeping arrangements you might just be wondering, what about all of the stuff these darling bundles of joy seem to bring when they move in? We (read:I) am ruthless on the clutter of toys, clothes and excess stuff in our home, you can read more about that here.

I realize this may hit a nerve with the people teetering on the they’re only babies once/you’ll miss all of the toys when they’re gone side of the pendulum but honestly, it is the only thing that keeps my sanity and our space (relatively) clutter free.

Toys|

I use baskets and wire bins to corral our toys. We keep most of the kids toys in the living room and sunroom. Hudson does have a nice sized closet with built in storage that I keep puzzles, board games, and legos in. Dress up outfits and tutus are stored in the girls room on these hooks.

Our family tries to buy imagination instead of entertainment toys (ie-wood blocks v. light up/singing counting toy) because they tend to have a longer shelf life and appeal to a wider age range. I could do a whole post (and maybe I will) on toys but the main take away is that we try to limit what we bring home and if something isn’t being played with, we pass it along to another family, guilt free.

Clothes + Shoes|

I really limit the intake here and subscribe to a capsule wardrobe of sorts for the kids. Particularly for children wearing uniforms to school five days a week. Each child has about 5 pairs of shorts or dresses, 2/3 long pants or leggings, and about 6 tops.

Essentially all non-uniform clothes they have could go together. I only keep/buy clothes I like to see them in so I don’t really limit what they wear (except on Sundays because I love a church outfit moment). I realize that living in such a temperate climate has given us a huge advantage of not having to really deal with seasonal clothing. Matt and I do the same thing with our closet. If it doesn’t fit or haven’t worn it in a year, out it goes.

I have the same policy for shoes, the pattern you’re seeing here is self imposed limits are gold (for me!). I LOVE all of the shoes for kiddos out there. Like, love. But I don’t want to manage more than three pairs of shoes for each child. That is still too many shoes that are not mine to be in charge of. So, I basically buy the same shoe for each child and pass them on every year. Saltwaters in the summer, Hunter boots for winter, and a pair of church shoes. We also house the occasional $1 flip flop for swim lessons. We’ve since added school shoes for the big kids. Babies go barefoot or wear moccasins until they can be initiated into the shoe hand-me-down rotation. That is still a lot of shoes, my friends.

Baby Gear|

We are pretty minimalist in terms of gear (here’s a list of my favs). As any mama knows, all those babies really need are arms to hold them, something to eat and somewhere to sleep (and a million diapers). We have a pack and play and a mamaroo. That’s really it.

Playing into that is all the kid stuff; the cups/plates, backpacks, shoes, towels. Really everything. For example, it seems like all I ever heard was you need a million sippy cups (you don’t want to run out!). Here’s what I’ve found that works better for us; each kids has one water bottle. That’s it. It eliminates the sink full of half empty water glasses and the inevitable but I wanted the BLUE cup battles. If you can’t find your water bottle and you’re thirsty, you better look until you find it. No heading to the cupboard for a replacement.

We (try!) to go with the one option for all those other items. Basically, we try to streamline all of the stuff. If one will do, no need to buy more.

So if there’s one take away here for you, know that controlling the inflow of stuff is really how we continued to live small-ish (I am NOT perfect at doing this…I see you Target dollar spot). That means I’m evaluating what we want to bring home and make room for, and not just in the kids’ rooms. We try to be vigilant about our own stuff taking over too. Matt’s newest weakness being vintage records and mine being all the vintage furniture.

You can find all of my favorite organization inspiration over on Pinterest.


Any tips from big families out there? Are you with me on doing that monthly Goodwill drop off? Love having all the things?

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