Flashback to about two years ago. We had one daughter and one on the way. We were in upstate NY and living in a house that was roughly 2,200 square feet. To be honest, we had more room than we needed, but we were living within our means, so it wasn't really a big deal. Then we found out we would be moving into a house in San Diego that would be about 1,200 square feet. What?!? We are adding an entire person (a small person, but still someone who would take up space with all her things) to our family and losing 1,000 square feet?? How would we manage this? There was no way this would work. We would NEVER be able to handle such a small living space. We were not very optimistic about the quality of life we would have in such a small house. This would be the smallest place I had lived in since my 1-bedroom apartment nearly a decade ago. Clearly it must be simply impossible to care for two kids in a place so small, right??
Thinking back on it, I think part of the concern wasn't just how we would fit ourselves and our possessions in the space, but rather how would our egos handle such a blow? We live in a society where bigger is better and houses are no exception. We are in our 30's. This is an age where many of our friends and family members are up-sizing from apartments or starter houses to big, family-raising houses. And here we were downsizing. Drastically. I wondered what people would think of us, in our teeny tiny little house. Not only did we not own a house, as everyone else was now doing, which already feels a little behind the curve, but our rental house was going to be so ridiculously small. What would we do?
We arrived in San Diego late at night in mid-November. Upon exiting the airport, I was pleased at the comfortable temperature, as it had been quite chilly when we left Upstate NY earlier that day. But then we got to our neighborhood and walked into the house, with no furniture, and my heart sunk even further. It seemed smaller than I even envisioned it. Our belongings showed up the next morning and the boxes piled up and up and up (because up was the only direction to go). We got down to business and started unpacking though, because how else was I going to care for my 3 month old and almost 3 year old? Small space or not, this was what we had and I was gonna have to make it work. From that moment through present day, we've worked to make the house "ours" - setting up fun play areas for the girls and hanging family pictures on the walls. I also hung a painting that M made at daycare - it makes me so happy to see it numerous times a day.
At some point along the way, and to be honest, I'm not sure when, I did (mostly) get over it. I chose to look for the positives of this small house. When L was a baby and waking up during the night, her room was a few short steps from ours. When M was coming out of her room 100 times a night at bedtime to tell us "she couldn't sleep", the walk back was short. When I have mounds of laundry to do, I don't have to lug it up and down the stairs anymore. And it's less space to try to keep clean!! I'm hoping that L will start potty training sometime in the next 6 months - we'll be that much closer to the potty at all times thanks to our small house.
I've also chosen to just be thankful. San Diego is riddled with homeless people. Do you think they would turn their nose up at our 1200 square foot home? I doubt it. The small space is also relatively common in San Diego - especially in coastal communities, which is where we live. We live just a couple of miles from the beach. How awesome is that?!?!?! I never would have imagined we would live so close to such an amazing beach. We can also walk to many great businesses nearby - coffee shops, frozen yogurt places and even the grocery store. Not that we always walk to those places, but it's a fun option at times. We have had some fun family walks down to the frozen yogurt place. That's a priceless little memory for me. It would be unreasonable to think we would have 2,000+ square feet in this area for a reasonable monthly cost.
So, it is what it is. Yes, there are days when I still complain about our tight space. I wish I could tell you all that now it's all happy smiles and rainbows every day because I so adore our small house. But I will never lie to you all on this blog. :-) Most days I can say that I've happily adjusted to this living arrangement for now. I'm glad that we will likely be in a larger space by the time our girls are teenagers, because I believe that at that point, this house would literally burst at the seams. But it's good for now. We are learning to be thankful for what we have. We're also learning to be more organized, which is necessary in a small space. And I also believe we will be so much more appreciative when we someday can settle in our "forever home". We'll know what else is out there and can truly make a wise decision on where we want to finish raising our girls.
Any readers have experience downsizing? Anyone increase their space and later decide it wasn't really all that you thought it would be? Being happy in our living space is so critical for ourselves and our families. Make the best of what you have, and if it's not what you want forever, set some realistic goals and timelines of how to change it. Always look forward! :-)