In the past few decades, family homes have become bigger and bigger. Many of us have areas in our homes that we hardly ever use and kids sometimes have their very own rooms, bathrooms and rec rooms.
The urge to downsize
While we all appreciate some space to stretch, the struggling economy is encouraging many families to do some serious downsizing.
Just how much space does your family really need? Some are embracing the less-is-more philosophy in light of the economy and moving into, literally, teeny tiny homes (200-900 square feet). These mini-abodes are becoming more and more attractive to those who truly want to simplify life, but would the small space cause some major parenting challenges?
The idea of squeezing the family into an 900 square foot home may seem crazy to some, but to others it's the ultimate way to simplify life. Rather than pay for wasted space, you can be sure that every inch of a little house is utilized and appreciated. In addition, you can't beat the energy efficiency and coziness of a tiny home and the price is certainly refreshing. Tumbleweed Tiny House Company sells floor plans for those who want to build the home themselves or offers fully-constructed options for $50,000 or less (significantly less than the median home price of $231,300 in the Northeast, for example). Teeny tiny is sounding pretty good, isn't it?
Read about 7 ways to simplify your life >>
Teeny tiny parenting
A tiny space could be perfect for empty-nesters or a single adult, but it's definitely doable for a family. "The biggest challenge will be learning to respect each other's space," says Houston-based Kathleen F. Leonard, Ed.D., CPCC, ACC, owner of Coaching the Family. "Both parent and child will need to have a place to go for alone time." Of course, that space could be outdoors.
Tight quarters may actually help communication, because it's pretty difficult to avoid conversation. As long as privacy is respected and everyone is considerate, the teeny tiny movement may just make family bonds stronger.
Find out how to organize the way your family communicates >>
Living in a very small home is a bit of a domestic throw-back, harkening back to the days when families lived in confined spaces, compared to today's standards. "In 1950, the average single family lived in 983 square feet, so it's not impossible to live comfortably in a small space," says Dr. Leonard. "It's not necessary for anyone to have a large amount of personal space and we tend to just fill in extra space with clutter."
Read about understanding the psychology of clutter >>
Could you take the leap?
"It would feel so good to simplify and get off the grid a bit."
The ecological and financial benefits of teeny tiny living are clear, as are the parenting challenges. So, could you do it?
"My daughter is young so the idea is tempting, financially, especially since real estate has become so unstable," says Michelle, a mom from Pennsylvania. "It would be fantastic to be able to reduce our financial burden but I wonder how I would handle the situation when my daughter gets older."
"Sign me up!" says Kate from California. "It would feel so good to simplify and get off the grid a bit. There's something refreshingly primitive about the whole idea."
"There's just no way," says Amy, a mom of two from Colorado. "I love my kids but being in such a confined space with them all the time would absolutely drive me insane. There has to be a happy medium between the McMansion and the teeny tiny option."
Are you ready to embrace extreme downsizing?