Large Family in a Small Space {How do we do it?}

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I get asked all the time, ‘How do you do it?’ Living as a family of five in 450 sq. ft., I guess, is what they refer to and not my startlingly accurate ability to tell the weather by the aches in my knees. (Yes I am 85 years old). Today let’s talk about the oh-so-important interpersonal aspect of how five unique humans live in small apartment together. Keep reading for more on how to thrive as a large family in a small space.

When I answer the question about how we do it, I usually chuckle and say “not very gracefully.” By that I mean we are wholly without the ballerina type of finesse. Here, we clunk and crash and yell and step over one another and kick aside toys and are constantly in each others’ bubbles. I wish I could say our family movements reflected the ease of a choreographed dance in some You Tube video. I wish I could say that I don’t yell very often (God is working on my heart with that one). And you know, sometimes it is really hard to be continually stepping over tiny people and miniature vehicles all the time. But we are all works in progress, as is life in the Shoebox.

We Get and Give Lots of Grace

“Not very gracefully” means we bump and ask each other to move over and ‘Where should I put this?’ all the time. It doesn’t mean we live without the virtue-from-God type of grace. In fact, we live with more of that kind of grace.

Merriam-Webster’s first definition of grace is “unmerited divine assistance given humans for their sanctification.” That. That is what I’m talking about. We attempt to grant each other a long lead of God-demonstrated forgiveness and a large dose of “that’s ok, I’m not perfect either” consideration.

We attempt to grant each other a long lead of God-demonstrated forgiveness and a large dose of “that’s ok, I’m not perfect either” consideration.

Caveman and I are deeply aware of the grace God hands to us in spite of our shortcomings, and we try our best to translate that truth into life with our children. This family forgives quickly and fully. We respect each others’ needs for quiet and privacy as best we can. (Well, I can’t say that for the little guys, but at least Caveman and I try.) We look for ways to bless each other because when you live in such tight quarters, it is much easier done when everyone is happy.

I find that I am the most voracious consumer of grace because it is I who is usually the one to loose itβ€”my good attitude, my cool, my patience, whatever you want to call it. Like I said before, I am a work in progress. If there’s anything redeeming about my frequent mess-ups it is this: my sin keeps me continually on my knees before the throne of Forgiving and Grace-Extending God.

Sometimes I feel like I’m literally swimming in the undeserving merit that is mine through Jesus. And the cool thing about that is if you hug someone in a pool, you are both soaked. God’s grace is like thatβ€” I’m aware of how it covers me so fully, and I can’t help but pass on the same forgiveness to others.

So how do we do it? Truthfully by the grace of God. Maybe that’s what I should start telling people: we live here by God’s grace alone.

Heaven’s grace pours down over our heads into our hearts, out our mouths and trickles down through fingers and feet as we interact as a family and work on living peacefully in a tiny space.

Thoughts? Comments? Share below, dear reader. πŸ™‚

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12 Comments
  • Jaime L
    June 9, 2014

    Perfect timing. I SO badly needed this today! And that’s all I’m going to say about that πŸ˜‰

    • Evelyn
      June 9, 2014

      So call me when you can…. πŸ™‚

  • Joy @ Joyfully Green
    June 9, 2014

    Lovely, Evelyn. I always love how you capture your three children in one photo, each in a separate little world but together.

  • Joanne
    June 10, 2014

    Well said.

  • Jayleen Zotti
    June 14, 2014

    ‘By the Grace of God’ … I just love it! Sometimes I think it would be great to live in a small space again … not that we are in a mcmansion;0) I will enjoy following your journey!

    • Evelyn
      June 16, 2014

      Thanks, Jayleen! So glad to have you here. πŸ™‚

  • Jane Sasser
    June 18, 2014

    I have to say that you are the most graceful person I know– or perhaps I should say grace-filled. The calm and peace that you exude amaze me. We are so grateful for you. As I told “Caveman” recently, he sure chose well.

  • Alex
    September 10, 2015

    I know I’m late to this post -by a year! – but I’ve only just found your site. I’m glad I did. We recently added our second blessing to our 1 bedroom apartment home of 600sq ft. I am excited that others share our desire to live simply and small. I look forward to perusing your site for more helpful hints!

    • Evelyn
      September 13, 2015

      Hi Alex!! I’m so glad you found us too. πŸ™‚ Congratulations on your new little person. I’m sure you’ll find great joy as your family thrives in that little apartment.

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