We had spent the past 39 hours in a vacuum. Aubrin’s 2:05 am arrival and the hospitals 24 hour minimum policy meant that we would spend a second night. Those 39 hours were a blur during which we learned the inaugural basics of baby care and stole naps in between swaddle attempts, diaper changes and breast feeding. A little button ensured that we could have help at a moment’s notice if need be. It was a safe, quite, climate controlled and dimly lit room occupied only by us but ultimately supported by an entire hospital staff; and now it was time to leave.
I gingerly tried to place her tiny frame in the disproportionately large car seat and snug up the five point harness before we began the surreal walk out of the hospital. It was only 39 hours since we had arrived in a haste, but it felt like a lifetime and for Aubrin, it literally was. That room is all we knew as first time parents, and as much as I was annoyed by the semi frequent check-ins from the nurses, I began to recognize the subconscious piece of mind it had provided only as we were walking away.
The automatic doors opened to an assault on our senses. Blinding sunlight combined with a rush of 84 degree air laced with the smell of cigarettes. My already precautionary driving had become more cautious over the last few months and somehow took on yet another level of carefulness for the ten minute drive home. Our over stimulation was strained further as we navigated 40th Ave traffic amidst ominous semi’s, loud exhaust pipes and pungent diesel fumes the likes of which we were much less aware of before becoming the chauffeur for a newborn.
And then it happened, we carried a 34 hour old tiny human through the front door of our tiny house, and all seemed right in the world again. We were once again contained in the space we had built with our own hands. The south facing blinds were drawn and the mini-split kept the space at a comfortable temperature. Our sense of calm was restored.The first seven days were almost meditative. A calm and surreal week with out radio or television and saturated with focused enthrallment with our new roommate. Our pace of life slowed and lacked any semblance of a schedule. We slept when we could, we ate when we were hungry and we spent hours watching Aubrin. Highlights included subtle smirks and smiles, that we pretended were the result of emotion rather than just lucky muscle twitches that created an adorable smiling baby. It was an exploratory period (and definitely still is) where we began learning the difference in her cries and body movements and the ways she prefers to be held. We comically tried to be steadfast in our attempts to ensure she sleeps in her bassinet instead of adorably napping on us, and in return using the bassinet as a fancy foot rest…On the 8th day we took our first micro adventure and re-visited the trail that we had hiked so frequently in the weeks, days and literally hours up until Aubrin’s arrival. it was a special milestone for us and being back there provided reassurance that we could resume our lives in a similar manner as before. We almost immediately began to plan an overly ambitious cross country trip to see new parts of the country and introduce Aubrin to the rest of her family, almost all of which reside in New York and Pennsylvania. By the end of that upcoming adventure, she will have logged far more road trip miles than hours of life, and thousands more in airline travel.In an effort to remain ‘active’ we set a goal of ‘one micro adventure’ per day and over the next three weeks began to tick off mini-milestones. We returned to the Cowiche Canyon up-lands trail and hiked it again and spent an afternoon with friends in Franklin Park. We visited Essencia Bakery in Downtown Yakima to enjoy some kouign amann as well as a dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Cowiche Canyon Kitchen after visiting the brand new Redifer Brewery across the street. Samantha enjoyed a long overdue visit to the salon and we attended our first ‘Yakima Explorer Clubs’ meet and greet on the lush lawn of Bale Breaker Brewing Company. We visited Backyard bonfires and acquired new garden goods at Cowiche Creek Nursery. A sprinkling of doctors appointments, exterior spring cleaning, gardening, meet-and-greets with friends and grocery store visits filled up any ‘down time’ we had. We basically began going about our normal lives with our new sidekick proudly in tow. We even played around in our newly purchased (and much larger) family tent in the backyard. Those of you visiting may find yourself in the tensile guest house…:)
And then there is life back INSIDE the tiny house which is where a majority of the diaper changing, breastfeeding, sleeping and crying happens. The two words that come to mind are repetition and team work. While she hasn’t settled into a fixed interval routine yet, the 2-4 hour process is the same: wake up from sleeping, breastfeed, change her diaper, work on getting her back to sleep. Regardless of house size, im pretty confident that this is most peoples experience. The benefit of the tine house is that I can make coffee, shower and clean the whole house during a single breast feeding session. Cleaning the house is actually the shortest task of those three [our hand grind and pour over coffee ritual takes a little bit to complete from start to finish].
At night Aubrin sleeps adjacent to our bed in her co-sleeper bassinet that we built so she is with-in reach for efficient middle of the night breast feeding interventions. During the day she naps in her downstairs crib; when mom and dad aren’t sneaking in chest naps that is… We hadn’t planned on introducing the downstairs crib so soon and planned for it to be her normal place to sleep overnight around 6 months or so, but we used it for the first few nights [Samantha decided to sleep on the couch after L&D] and the convenience it provides with minimal intrusion has led to a permanent presence so far. We may build in a custom crib in the same location that will be a little bigger as it would extend up and over the wheel well box out but only time will tell.
The reason we chose this pack-n-play crib is because it is smaller and lighter than other versions so it fits into the nook better. Not only can it be picked up as is and taken into the backyard for some backyard gardening time but it can be (and will be) folded up into a condensed package for air travel and road trips. It also has three stages that progress from shallow bassinet to deep crib and we found there to be abundant storage for under/inside of it when used as a shallow bassinet.
We have had great success with our folding infant bathtub which is probably of interest to other tiny space enthusiasts. While the kitchen sink could work just fine (and probably will in the future) it has been nice to not worry about any dishes that may be in the sink and to use the bath tub in the middle of the living room so that we can each be on a side to help support and wash her. It should work great as a backyard baby pool as well when the time comes.
AMATEUR PARENTING TIP: We have found it important to not be so consumed with the baby that we forget about ourselves and each other and have developed an unspoken rule that we each get ‘spa time’ every morning. In reality ‘spa time’ is exaggeratory nomenclature for ‘personal hygiene time’ and we take turns making sure that the other can carve out 20-40 minutes each morning for a relaxing shower and related tasks in the only private space in our home.
During this transformative respite we somehow surpassed 10,000 followers on INSTAGRAM! We don’t usually pay attention to or highlight social media milestones but it is hard to believe that a year ago we did not even have an instagram account and now 10,000+ people are interested in our little SHED. We put a lot of effort into sharing our project and our story through multiple platforms so there is a genuine feeling of satisfaction knowing that we may provide inspiration for others once in a while. Our plan for the future is to keep doing what we have been doing; producing 100% original and authentic content that highlights our minimalist outdoor (and now family) oriented perspective of tiny house living, shared directly from this little d.i.y. house of ours.
…and there must be some future benefits to establishing a global social network of real people. Perhaps a free couch to surf while traveling in the future? Can you hear us Australia and New Zealand? 🙂
Below is a montage of one second videos from each day of Aubrin’s life thus far.
Tiny House Parenting: Closing Words
If you are looking for some profound secrets or discoveries about raising a baby in a tiny house, we don’t have much for you. The reality is, it is not any different than raising a baby in a ‘normal’ house; the difference is an intangible shift in perspective and piece of mind in US, as parents.
It should not be under estimated the impact a happy and unstressed psyche can have on parenting and these attributes, or their adversaries, can often times be a direct result of ones environment [i.e. home]. The same benefits that we were seeking in our tiny house design [calm, cleanliness, simplicity, efficiency] are now proving beneficial in our parenting. To live in a home that is designed specifically for you is to live in a space centered around fulfilling your exact needs. When those personal needs are met, and excess eliminated, ones focus can be on the task at hand which is now our daughter, Aubrin. The first month in the tiny house with her has been an absolute joy.
Beyond the physical tiny house, but in direct correlation to its existence lies the true underpinning of our happiness [and lack of stress]. We own our home out right and if needed can move it on a moment’s notice, by preference or necessity. We have dramatically reduced our living expenses, established a five year plan to completely eradicate six figure student loan debt and have simultaneously built a financial safety net that would allow us to coast without income for at least 12 months if needed. We now have the opportunity to personally raise our child instead of working to pay someone else to raise her through a combination of extended maternity leave for Samantha and an eventual stay-at / work-from home position for myself.
These are not happenstance opportunities, they are earned benefits by design; results of very intentional and deliberate life choices we have made. A tiny house is not for everyone, but nobody can deny the benefits that right-sizing, eliminated excess and re-aligned priorities can provide.
In the spirit of giving credit where credit is due I want to point out that while Samantha’s leave is a result of her wading through the state and federal bureaucracy to piece together a six month maternity leave, my flexibility is due in full to the understanding of my company. I work at a firm owned by two fathers, Ron and Brad, who told me when I first met them that they valued family. I have now worked with them for 4 years and they have upheld that sentiment every step of the way. They have gone above and beyond to help and enable rather than hinder the life you are watching us live. When I delivered the news that we were expecting a child and that I was not sure how it would affect my production and ability to continue a standard 9-5 they shifted the focus first to congratulations and then assured me to do whatever I deemed necessary for the family and then we would work out a custom tailored plan for continued employment. They have embraced all ideas for the future, whether it be bringing Aubrin to the office, creating flexible hours, working from home, or a hybrid of all three and Samantha and I am extremely thankful for their continued understanding and support.
This will likely be the last blog post until after our cross country epic so if you want to see what we are up to in the next two months I recommend following our INSTAGRAM or FACEBOOK to see more frequent updates.