For much of the world, today is ‘Star Wars Day.’ But for us, May [the] fourth is Aubrin’s birthday and today we celebrate living in a tiny house with a baby for one whole year.
Out of the 27 months we have lived in a tiny house, twelve have been with a child and another nine were spent pregnant with Aubrin. That means a majority of our tiny house experience has been spent carrying and caring for a baby. To many this would be considered a less than ideal tiny house formula so naturally we’ve been asked ‘are you surviving in the tiny house?’ To that we respond, ‘We are thriving.’
As we stated in THIS BLOG POST, ‘beyond the natural elation of starting a family comes the happiness derived from the discovery that being pregnant and bringing a baby into a tiny house is totally possible. Like not in a ‘possible with a lot of extra work and compromise’ kind of way either. We thoroughly believe that becoming first time parents who live in a tiny house was the best case scenario.’
This is to say that the last year has been easier and more enjoyable than expected, because of our tiny house. The trickle down benefits from reducing our cost of living and amount of time we need to spend working are plentiful including the most important perk of all which has been the ability to spend more time together as a family. The tiny house has allowed us to be more present than ever in our daughters life, physically, mentally and emotionally. Raising a baby in our 204 square foot tiny house is all we know and we wanted to share a couple tips that we’ve learned along the way.
1. BABIES DO NOT NEED A LOT OF STUFF
One of the reasons we choose this lifestyle was to opt out of an excess driven existence and it has lead to nothing but positive results both mentally and physically. Don’t listen to the inevitable comments about ‘how much stuff a baby comes with.’ That ‘stuff’ is associated with the experience of raising a baby by the same societal norms that you’ve probably already realized were unnecessary and at times harmful.
Start with the necessities of love, nourishment, and hygiene and then decide what is needed as the days and weeks pass by.
Our personal favorite acquisition has been a carrier to assist in baby wearing. There are a million options out there and we are on our third iteration, but the act of wearing your baby encourages connection and makes day to day tasks much easier, inside and out of the tiny house.
2. DONT OVER PREPARE
Much like building a tiny house, first-time parenting is a daunting task when viewed as a whole and research paralysis (and outside criticism) can pile on unnecessary stress. You don’t need to know everything immediately and you don’t have to have everything immediately. Take it one step at a time and only focus on the next 4-8 wees at a time. Don’t stock pile clothes for the first year of a babies life when you can acquire what is needed as you go. We happen to have a great community of friends where we live, many of which are having children so we often times gift them the items that Aubrin outgrows and perhaps in the future they or other items will make their way back to us if we have a second child. It’s a great way to give the items a second and third life and prevent putting things into storage (that we don’t have space for) for a ‘what if’ scenario down the road.
3. BE FLEXIBLE
Really all of these suggestions overlap and share a common theme. You can only prepare so much and beyond that you’ll ‘figure it out on the fly!’ Rely on your instincts and adjust/react as necessary. If you go in with a hard plan that you think is the perfect formula for parenting based on what you’ve seen and read you’re bound to be disappointed. Parenting, especially in a tiny house is a unique and personal journey that has a tendency to unravel in ways one may not expect. I think the first year of tiny house parenting has been a better experience than I ever could have expected, due in part because we’ve made a choice to embrace the unexpected and learn from it.
These are rather vague suggestions but we are not here to tell you how to raise your baby or what you should purchase for them to lead a successful minimalist tiny house existence. We are firm believers that every child and parent is different and as such broad guidelines can be digested, tweaked and applied on a personal level much more successfully than step by step directions that may have worked perfectly for one person. If there is one thing in life that does not have clear, step by step directions, it’s parenting; a fact that should be embraced rather than feared.
We started this journey into tiny house parenthood with THIS DEEPLY PERSONAL BLOG POST that touched on our fears during pregnancy and the exhilarating process of Aubrin’s arrival and then spoke out loud in THIS BLOG POST about the first few weeks with Aubrin in the tiny house.
Our ability to build a financial safety net after moving into SHED resulted in two important benefits for our family. It allowed Samantha to take six months of maternity leave, a majority of which was unpaid and then it allowed me to transition into a work from home father despite the inevitably reduced work production. We feel fortunate every day to have been able to design a life that enabled this circumstance and we spoke at length about the pivotal and emotional day that our rolls reversed in THIS BLOG POST when Samantha returned to work.
Much of our days are spent doing the same things that our neighbors with kids are doing. Changing diapers, feeding, putting her to sleep, reading her books, on top of the typical daily chores of laundry, grocery shopping, stopping by the office, cooking meals, etc… often times with one arm/hand as you other parents can attest too.
Some tasks look a little different, like bath time in our ‘Flexi-bathtub’ in the middle of the living room or our sleeping arrangement with the DIY CUSTOMIZED LOFT CRIB we built ourselves because they don’t exactly make and sell such a thing (yet anyway).
The hardest thing we’ve had to adapt to in the tiny house is sharing a single space with multiple schedules, complexified by Aubrin’s early bedtime and my need to oftentimes work late into the night. To adapt to this we created a blackout curtain that hangs at the edge of the loft and turn on white noise to mask the mouse clicks and key strokes of my computer work. Each night I then turn off the lights and slowly feel my way up into the loft in the dark, dropping the black out curtain (to restore air circulation) and then shimmy into the bed. It is a less than perfect circumstance but it is amazing to have found a way to make our separate schedules work when we are only 8′ away from each other.
The easiest thing has been keeping her safe, which may seem unbelievable to the group of people that shout at us their fears of the unbridled danger abound in our home. When you know every square inch of your house and where she is at all times it is easy to guide her explorations in a safe manner while ‘child buffering’ things as needed. The two main things that we have done is add the LOFT EDGE NET AND DOOR and soften the edges and corners of spots prone to contact (with a rubber edge guard).
Recently she has began climbing onto the first stair (with supervision); an accomplishment encouraged and applauded by us rather than stifled and shunned. It is our belief that a child will (and should) continue to explore with and without their parents so the sooner they become capable and learn lessons through guided encouragement the better off they will be in the future. With that said, you can expect to see a removable gate of some sort at the base of the stairs in the near future!
The last year has been a deeply personal journey, much of which has been shared publicly, resulting in a cacophony of support and criticism alike but it has been the numerous comments and messages of gratitude for inspiring others in one way or another that has kept this blog going. I guess that is our way of saying thank you! Our perspective changed when this digital diary of sorts began to produce real world impacts on strangers all over the world. It no longer feels like we are just telling OUR story but a story of a movement that is becoming larger than many expected, both inside and outside the tiny house community. Momentum that is pushing its way into small local jurisdictions all over the country and forcing them to acknowledge not only an interest but a need for smaller housing options in many places.
We certainly were not the first tiny house dwellers with a baby and there is now a whole group of inspiring people proving on a daily basis that living in a tiny house as a family is a viable option. If you began following our journey because of your interest in tiny living with kids I invite you to check out some of these other amazing families we have been following (Each hyper linked to their Instagram accounts): LEARNINGTHELONGWAY, NERDSGONETINY, BELAFISH, COLOREGONTINYHOME, THREETINYHAMS, TINYHOUSEFAMILY, TINYHOUSETWINTRAVELS, LESSJUNKMOREJOURNEY, FITETRAVELS, SIMPLEANDSENSIBLE, TINYHOUSEBIGMOMENTS. You can also find us on instagram at SHED_TINYHOUSE where we share behind the scenes stories and photos of the tiny life. And for those of you wondering ‘what happens when she gets older?’ we put our thoughts about ‘moving on’ in THIS BLOG POST.
I think these other families would agree that the biggest perk of raising a baby in a tiny house has very little to do with the tiny house. In fact, for us it has never been about the tiny house; it has always been about the life it would afford. For many of us, tiny homes are simply a means to an end; a tool to instigate and achieve a preferred way of life. You cannot buy more time, so the next best thing is to spend it in more meaningful ways. Surprisingly, a child did not cause us to slow down and instead we are more motivated and ambitious as ever to get out and experience the world as a family, documenting milestones and memories big and small, a few of which are highlighted below!
Anyways, happy first birthday, Aubrin. Your first trip around the sun was unforgettable and as we head out the door to spend time at an incredible off-grid stone hut with wood fired hot tub in the mountains (next blog post) it appears as though the second year is off to a great start!