Two years ago we lived in an 1800 sq. ft. house. It was comfortable. We had enough space for all of the kids, plus enough room for guests.
Then we moved across the country. To say that finding a house for a family of 8 is difficult is an understatement. Property managers believe that every child needs a room of their own and can’t imagine how we could possibly “fit” into a 4 bedroom 1800 sq. ft house. Independent landlords freak out, imagining 6 unruly children tearing apart their lovely homes. One lady said pets were fine, but kids…no, they would ruin her home.
Through a network of friends, we found a place to stay—a vacant home, on the market for many months and unsold—for a month, so we could search for a rental and avoid living in a hotel (in separate rooms) for a month.
We were grateful—to the family and to the Lord for his provision. The home belonged to a family of 10 and they never questioned or wondered at our family size.
After several disappointing calls and a week of exhaustive internet searching, we gave up and decided to stay. The owners were thankful to have someone living in their home. The location of the house was less than ideal, but with no other options we thanked God for providing us with a home that met our needs.
We loved the quiet street with a full acre of land, the chicken coop, and the wooded area. We appreciated the extra space for guests. We knew the layout wasn’t ideal, but it was manageable.
When our furniture arrived, I knew that we had another problem. I suddenly realized that 3000 sq. ft. was too much. Since the layout of the house was nearly identical to the house we had left, it seemed like the same size when it was empty. It wasn’t.
For weeks we lived with the 2nd living room unfurnished and for 2 years we lived with an empty bedroom. Our own bedroom was so big that we hung a curtain across the middle to divide the space and make it more cozy. The other side functioned as a “garage”.
Empty space isn’t a big deal. I’d rather not fill it up with useless stuff anyway. The hardest thing was that the kids were all over the house. I literally ran up and down the stairs all day trying to keep track of them all. It seemed like I could never catch up.
I would hear quarreling, but by the time I figured out who was yelling and where they were it was too late to intervene. Toddlers made messes (giant red paint spot on beige carpet!) without being noticed. Big kids disappeared to read and missed out on family fun. Schoolwork went unfinished because I was too far away to keep an eye on it. I could never keep the whole house clean because they made messes on the opposite end of the house while I was cleaning the other end.
I hope that this does not come across as complaining, as that’s not my intent (though I do admit to complaining about the house a lot on days when I was overwhelmed). I tell you the hard things so that you can understand why we are so thankfu to have less space. For us and our house…less is more.
I cannot express the feeling of relief we have felt this week after leaving the 3000 sq. ft. house for 1800 sq. ft. again. I know where my kids are. We talk more. I can cook and clean while they play within my sight. I can hear everything that is going on and get to them quickly. They can hear me without yelling.
We still have plenty of space for dinner guests, a dedicated school space, and a little room for my sewing and art. There is plenty of storage space and enough toilets to accommodate 8 people, potty-training toddlers, and guests.
I am looking forward to homeschooling this year. With a work area and a play area near the kitchen, we can all work and interact in the same space. I know there will be days when I wish we had more space to spread out or more beds for guests, but we are relieved and grateful to have less this week.
There are whole blogs dedicating to simplifying and downsizing. This is just our experience. “Less is more” proves true in this case. Less stress. Less cleaning. Less house. Less stuff. More time. More community. More family. More of the things we enjoy.
Thanking God for providing a smaller space, lifting the burden of a big home, and bringing us closer to our church community!