I overheard a recent conversation Red had with one of his friends. They were comparing house sizes and Red claimed that his “house was huuuuge.” Neighbor friend countered that his house was bigger. Red insisted that his house was bigger. And on it went. We moms smiled to each other over our not-so-steaming-anymore-cups of coffee, and I marveled at the unique perspective of a two-and-a-half year old who believes that 450 sq. ft. is a palace.
Here in America many of us have bought into the ideal that children need their own room for individualism, their own playroom and added sq. ft. to be well-adjusted and happy. It’s easy to assume that with each added person in a family more room is necessary. (And of course I admit that teenagers will need more space than toddlers do, but for these early years children do not need much area to thrive.) We are discovering that rearing kids in a tiny home is not only possible, but there are added blessings as well. Read on to learn some of the benefits of raising children in a small space.
First of all, I just need to say that children up to a certain age have an altered sense of distance since they’re so small. (Have you ever returned to your elementary school? Noticed how the once-endless hallway wasn’t so gaping after all?) Secondly, they don’t care about how big their room is. What matters is that they have a nice, cozy, loving, safe environment in which to live. Sure, they notice when houses have large open spaces to run in, but that doesn’t mean our home needs to be that way.
So. Benefit number one?
It encourages imagination
But what about toys? Aren’t your children deprived of lots of fun toys to play with? No, actually. Thanks to wonderfully generous relatives, our boys have plenty of nice things to enjoy, thank you very much. However—and anyone with children will back me on this—most of the time they’d prefer to NOT play with their toys. That new computer box or the empty paper towel roll or daddy’s hand-held drill or mommy’s kitchen whisk are all normally WAY cooler than traditional trinkets. Oh, no. Our boys are not deprived of play things. Their imaginations and innovative spirits run rampant with many materials in our home, as well as with their toys. In fact, much of their playtime includes no objects at all, as is evidenced by the invisible pet crickets and stegosauruses our home currently houses. Thankfully, even the Shoebox has enough space for imaginary dinosaurs.
It models moderation
Raising children in a small space models moderation in consuming. When we shop, we shop for specific items—things for which we have planned for which we have space available. We aren’t blind consumers, hypnotized by momentary wants and glittering ads. We do our best to make wise decisions about what enters our home and hearts, including material items, food items, even ideas and words that could invade through a show on a screen! It’s our way of “guarding our souls,” like Prov. 22:5 suggests:
Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked;
whoever guards his soul will keep far from them. Proverbs 22:5
By limiting (or at least filtering) everything that would come into this space, we are hopefully setting our children up for a life of moderation and wise decisions.
It teaches responsibility
Raising children in a small space teaches them responsibility and cleanliness. Because we ALL ALWAYS use ALL the space the Shoebox provides, we must do our best to keep it as clean as possible (or at least picked up) for the enjoyment and safety of the whole family. The table is cleaned after every use—be it my writing or Red learning his letters or family breakfast—because it is such a commonly used area. It is hopefully left spotless and open for the next use. Toys and shoes (shoes, because Number Two LOVES them and can’t keep himself from randomly depositing them in the oddest of places, see point #1) are cleaned up twice a day, once before nap time and once before bedtime. Cleaning up is often a struggle because, let’s face it, our children are ages 2.5 and 1. But we’re working on it, and as the routine of responsibly picking up after yourself continues to soak in, our prayer is that being responsible with their belongings will also become a cherished habit.
Of course, all these benefits of raising children in a small space can also be taught in any sized space. And our friends who live in larger homes—so, all of our friends—definitely embrace similar concepts in their parenting. We just find that smaller sq. footage forces us to be more diligent and purposeful in training imagination, moderation and responsibility.
This is list is by no means exhaustive. What other benefits and blessings of raising kids in a small space can you think of? Chip in below and let us know!