We didn’t let our housing situation affect our family planning. Originally, we always thought that the condo would be where we lived as young newlyweds, and then we’d trade up when we decided to start family. But then the market tanked in 2008, just when we were starting to think about kids. So, we decided that while perhaps not how we’d originally planned, the condo would be a lovely place to have a baby. Then maybe we could move when he was a preschooler, we told ourselves, before having our second child. You know the saying: life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. The whole moving thing just kept getting put off and put off. We’re still underwater, we’ve had more than a few financial setbacks that kept us from saving for another down payment, and maybe to some extent inertia kicked in. But we still wanted another child, so when the timing was right with everything else, we went for it.
It might not be how we planned it, but we are so happy with how it’s turning out. M is such a funny little guy. He was a mellow baby, and then suddenly got his sea legs and started tearing around the house at only 9 months old. Now he’s a little over a year and doing all those super cute young toddler things - babbling with inflection and purpose, following simple directions, pointing at everything, dancing, giving hugs and kisses. S has turned into quite the big brother as well. While he is sometimes annoyed at M for taking his toys, it seems like their favorite thing to do is wrestle around and give each other “love attacks” like two rambunctious puppies. It’s pretty fantastic.
This little starter home of ours has stretched to accommodate our now-nuclear family as best it can. I can’t say it’s been entirely easy–some things are awesome about small space living with two kids and some things less so. But here are some thoughts about how it’s working out for us so far:My number one fear when contemplating living in this small, two bedroom condo with two kids was how were we ever going to get any sleep? We had M in our room in a Pack n’ Play bassinet until he was 5 months old. Once he started sitting up, we knew it was time to move him into the crib in what was to become the boys’ shared bedroom. But I was a little terrified. S has always been a bit of a night owl, preferring to bring toys to bed to play with, to sing songs, to call out to Mommy and Daddy for some more water or a snack. Was he going to wake the baby? And of course M was still getting up many times a night at that stage. Would the baby wake up S? But, for better or worse, we decided to go for it, and it has been so wonderful. S realized he needed to actually be quiet at night, so a lot of that nighttime silliness just stopped. It was kind of like magic. Now he’s realized that he can grab the baby monitor to “page us” when he wants something, but still: he’s whispering, he’s being respectful of M’s sleep, and he’s now falling asleep more easily. And M’s sleep improved a little bit when we moved him to the crib as well. It was great getting our bedroom back, and there’s something very sweet and almost old fashioned about the two of them sleeping peacefully together in their shared room.
Toys. So many toys.This is where we are struggling. I look back at this post of our playroom when we first converted it from a dining room, and I don’t know whether to laugh or weep. There were hardly any toys! So much open space! We still stored our glassware on the Expedit! The toys are taking over. The whole Expedit is devoted to toys, and we still don’t have enough room. There are toys spilling out from behind the leather chair. There are toys under the train table. There are toys in the adjacent bookshelf. There’s a toy closet in our hallway. There are toys in the boys’ room. I thought we had it under control, we had just done a huge toy purge in the fall, but lately I feel completely overtaken by toys (Christmas with two kids and a first birthday will do that I suppose). I’m trying to get a system that will allow the kids to help clean up more easily on their own, and that will keep my sanity intact. Toy storage is definitely a work in progress. One thing I keep reminding myself of is that it could always be worse. I think overall, people realize our space limitations and don’t give us as many toys.
Condos can actually be great with small children. Hands down the best part of condo living for me is not having to shovel snow. Winter of 2012/2013 was snowy, and we had a teeny tiny newborn. It was so nice getting to hibernate inside and not worry about who was going to go clear the driveway and sidewalk while we were exhausted with a new baby. This year it has been bitterly cold and S’s first year of preschool has brought home many illnesses. It’s been nice to just let someone else deal with the snow when we’re too busy or sick or tired. And while the thing I personally hate most about condo living is not having my own yard, last year, S, M, and I spent a ton of time outside – using sidewalk chalk on our driveway, exploring the yard behind our condo buildings, and playing with the neighbor kids on our nice, safe cul de sac. I think I finally just embraced our house, and used the outdoor space we do have, instead of wishing for private outdoor space we don’t.
Small spaces=more time. Living in a small house has its advantages. Mainly, what I lack in space I make up for in time. It doesn’t take as much time to clean up our small space. I can vacuum nearly the whole house from one outlet. We can clean it from top to bottom in a couple of hours. My husband likes to tease me that it can go from being what I call a “disaster” to clean and cozy in 20 minutes. And, as I mentioned before, not having to spend time on outdoor maintenance means we can spend more time playing with these little guys.