Lately I have been thinking and planning. Some might even call it nesting.
When you live in a small 2 bedroom townhouse with something between 500 and 700 sq ft of living space (I tried to measure and estimate how much space we actually have once, but did a poor job of it), creating a space for a new baby isn't as easy as transforming a spare room into a nursery. (Spare rooms. Can you believe some people have those? What a novel concept!) We have to assimilate this child into our already cramped quarters, and I've been tossing around different ideas concerning what that assimilation might look like.
I know that for the first few months I will want the baby in our room, and we have the pack n play/bassinet that we used for Eisley all ready to go toward that purpose. But after a few months I will want want the baby to share a room with his/her sister. In the meantime, I'd like the baby to have a crib set up in that room so that he/she can begin taking naps and going down for the first few hours of nighttime sleep in there. We have put Eisley down at 7 p.m. every single night in her crib since she was 1 week old, and now she drops off to sleep at 7 every night in her crib like clockwork.
Eisley's room is small, and her crib, dresser, night stand, toy chest, rocking chair, bookshelf, diaper pail, and cloth diaper basket already take up all of the wall space in there. I could rearrange the furniture just so and squeeze in another crib, but this would leave no room for the kids to play in their room at all. It's also becoming clear to me that I'm going to need to "toddler proof" her room soon, as she'll likely be moving to a toddler bed in another six months and have unlimited unsupervised access to everything in her room at night, should she quietly wake up and get out of bed. The dressers in her room currently contain diapering supplies and first aid kits, she knows how to open the diaper pail already, and I've seen enough pictures of Desitin and/or poop smeared on the walls to know that toddlers have an affinity for searching out any and all powders, creams, and human excrement within their reach and using them to destroy everything in sight.
I think we're going to have to move the dressers, night stand, and diaper changing supplies into our room.
I considered switching rooms entirely, since ours is larger, but our room, with it's two windows facing the morning sun and attic entrance, has its own challenges and hazards to baby-proof. I also believe that children feel cozier and safer in smaller spaces, and that they'll sleep better in the little pink room. Plus, it's a pink room, and I just don't feel like going to sleep every night in a pink room.
With the dressers removed and any books that aren't tough enough to handle a toddler's destruction moved to a bookshelf not in my daughter's room, the kids' room will contain two cribs (convertible to toddler beds), a toy chest full of safe toys, the bookshelf (hopefully secured to the wall) full of durable board books, and a rocking chair. Clean, cozy, safe, uncluttered. Our room will house everything else, which means none of the furniture will match, and I may have to do yet another purge-o-possessions to make it all fit. Plus, I'm thinking that if the majority of clothes and diapering supplies are going to be in our room anyway, why not move ALL the clothes into our room? Our closet is small, but neither mike nor I have a lot of clothes we need to keep hung up, and there is a convenient bottom clothes rod at child-height. I moved Eisley's clothes from her closet into ours this afternoon and found that not only do they all fit, but there is room to spare for her sibling's clothes, and she will be able to reach them on her own to start picking out her own outfits as she becomes able. This will free up space for an extra shelf in her closet (which I found is sitting in our basement. The last renters must have removed it and put it down there). We'll be able to store more boxes of baby clothes and clothes to grow into in that closet while using the closet rod in there for any "special" clothes not regularly worn, like the baptism gown, heirloom clothing, art smock, and halloween costumes. Her closet floor, currently deliciously empty, will be a great place to put dress-up clothes or an art easel as the kids get older.
All said and done, I think my nesting is leading me to a "family closet" system in which all the clothing for the entire family is stored in a central location. That location will be partially our existing closet, partially the 2 dressers in our room. I'm hoping this will actually make our life easier when it comes to laundry and that I'm still able to keep our bedroom ours and not allow it to turn into a family dumping ground. Time will tell.
Squeezing a family into a tiny home can be challenging, for sure, but it can also at times be invigorating and refreshing. With such little space, there is absolutely no place for stuff to hide. Everything we own is pretty much within sight at all times. We do have an attic, a garage, and a space beneath the basement stairs that we could hoard stuff in if we really wanted to. But what's the point? Especially given the intense heat in the attic during the summer and the damp and cold in the basement and garage in the winter. Anything we store there may just end up musty, moldy, or ruined. So we try to live life like we don't have an attic or a space under the stairs. So far all we have in the attic is empty, flattened cardboard boxes (that we pull down and use for shipping or transporting things as the need arises), Christmas decorations, 1 box of childhood mementos, and Eisley's baby swing (that we will be pulling down again shortly). The basement space houses the infamous "bag of bags" (doesn't everyone have a bag of gift bags, bows, and wrapping paper somewhere?), some outdoor/camping gear, and Eisley's old car seat.
When something new enters our home, we have to make room for it, and that often means giving all of our things a tough re-evaluation. Do we really need it in our life? Do we ever use it? Would I really miss it if it was gone? It amazes me that no matter how much we purge, it seems there is always more to purge. With the constant stream of new items (and people!) making their way into our home, decluttering followed by a reorganization of our possessions is a never-ending process. It's the master-bedroom-as-family-closet today, but who knows what changes we'll need to make tomorrow? Will I get rid of all our dressers altogether and move to a wall of open shelving behind sliding panels? Will we still be living here when the kids need bunk beds? Who knows, but it's an ongoing process that takes some creative thinking and solutions. And in my hugely pregnant and nest-y state, I'm actually kind of enjoying it :-)