Living Small: Organizing in a Small Space

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img_7797If you know me well, you know that one of my favorite things is… black trash bags. Fill them up and ship them out. And no… I’m not even kind of kidding ha! Living with mass amounts of “stuff” gives me major hives. I don’t deal well with clutter or extras. Any bit of sentimentality could probably fill up the tip of my pinky finger. With all of that said, it might give you an idea on how living with less truly isn’t much of a sacrifice on my end. I thrive with it. If you are the sentimental type who wants to keep everything… well… I’ll have someone similar Guest Post to talk about their own experience with de-cluttering and living with less! ha!

I am always amazed at how quickly we accumulate stuff. Papers, toys, clothes, “treasures,”, etc. We live in a 1500 sq ft. home with 7 of us. It’s a 3 bedroom home which means there’s a small girl room, boy room and then our room (which we share with our 1 year old). It is PERFECT for us at this stage of life. I love that I am able to hear where the kids are from any spot in my house. And I love that while it only takes a split second for our house to get messy, it only takes a split second to get it back into order as well.

I’ve put together a few of the ways that I stay organized (or attempt to!) and live with less in our home. AND, I asked on Instagram for other’s tips on how they stay organized in smaller spaces and will be including some of them at the bottom of this post as well!

+My kids are responsible for cleaning their rooms each morning (and sometimes in the afternoons before dinner as well). Tidy up and make beds. Once a month I will make a sweep through each room and “de-clutter”. If there are toys that I have noticed are being pulled out frequently but not played with, we’ll donate them. I’ll also do a quick look through of their clothes. If there are items that I know they’ve outgrow, items that haven’t been worn in awhile or items that look rough, we’ll donate them. I have found that the days that I go through and de-clutter, the kids seem to play in their rooms more. Less IS more!

+And on the topic of toys. My kids honestly don’t have or play with a ton of toys. They play outside, craft, read and do imaginative play with each other the majority of the time. The toys that they do have RARELY get played with. We have been down the road of lots of toys before. And my kids weren’t any happier. In fact… I remember them and myself being fussy because of the mess that so many toys brings.
+I find that clothes are the main thing that I am constantly trying to juggle and keep to a minimum. The way that my kid’s genders and ages are laid out, I don’t keep hand-me-downs. Emma and Eloise are five years apart. Way too long to keep clothes around (for me personally). Colt and Cade wear the same size which is nice! And from them to Cash is a four year gap. Again, too long to keep clothes around. As soon as we have outgrown something I’ll either give it to a friend to use, donate it OR sell it (the selling part is a post for another day). Because of this, I don’t have piles of clothing stored at my house for long periods of time. When we are done with it, it leaves the house. As far as seasonal clothing goes, I store everything in bins in our closets to be pulled out when we need it.

I think for me, what it boils down to is… do we really need MORE? It’s an easy mindset to fall into. You mindlessly accumulate more. At least that’s what happens for me. I am wanting to become more purposeful and mindful about what is coming into our home. Do we really need it? Or is it just an extra want? Re-training my thought pattern to have this type of a mindset has been eye opening.

Here are a few of my favorite comments from Instagram….

@juliagal– “We are moving from a 2200 sq. ft. house into an RV TODAY with our 5 young children. I am literally supposed to be packing as I type this! My husband and I have always wanted some adventure in our life, think own a surf shop in Costa Rica, but we (really me) are not crazy adventurous people by nature. I’m very practical and a thinker. So the RV is a great way to have some adventure but in a fairly safe way. We were also tired of my husband working his tail off to pay the mortgage and then not having anything left at the end of the month to have fun. We are hoping to save quite a bit and maybe just visit Costa Rica! πŸ™‚ We are really looking forward to more time together as a family because he won’t have to work quite so much. I was also afraid I might look back 20 years from now and regret not having tried it, but I know, even if this is the hardest year of our lives, we will look back and be glad we did it. There are memories just waiting to be made! Decluttering was one of the appealing parts of this journey to me but it has been so much harder than I imagined. We have committed to try it for a year and then re-evaluate. I think we are going to continue cleaning out through that entire year. The attachment I have to my ‘things’ is not where God wants my heart to be. I have made some real progress over the last few weeks, but heart change is hard and can take some time.”

@sammyw– “We’re a family of 5 living in 1500 sq. ft. It’s an old home so very little storage which often presents a problem. My biggest tips are to make weekly trips to goodwill to donate. It seems something is getting dated, grown out of, not used, etc, so I have a big wicker basket below my stairs and I just plop it in there and out of sight out of mind. I stopped saving paperwork, receipts, bank statements, cell phone bills, etc. anything I can see online I trash. I keep our books to a minimum for the children only our absolute favorites and we make weekly library trips and check out a lot (like 30 at a time!) we read SO much more because they change weekly and it’s something we’ll look forward to! I go online and save a bunch of books from the library and they’re in a special spot all ready for me to pick up so I know we’re getting good quality good content in our books. We do of course browse and pick too but that’s a gamble πŸ˜‰ Another thing we do is baskets! Everything has a plan and my kids know that and do a great job of tidying up when that time comes. A big wire basket by our door for shoes, they take them off right away when we come inside, another basket by the door for purses, coats, backpacks, lunch boxes. A ‘truck basket’, ‘lego’ basket, baby doll clothes, accessories basket, etc. It’s so simple and straight forward to keep everything in it’s place.”

@clairehloy– “We rotate toys between rooms and storage. I would probably do this if we had an abundance of space, honestly. About once every month or two, I pick a main toy (like trains or certain playmobil set or costumes) for both boys to store in baskets in our living room downstairs. I pick another few toys to join the books and puzzles in our play nook upstairs. The rest go into two plastic tubs that I store on the floor of my closet. Of course we still have lots of matchbox cars upstairs and down that store nicely in an old coffee tin. This allows me to keep minimalism in my day to day while still keeping a decent amount of toys for the boys.”

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  1. You may not have to deal with this, but I am wondering what you do when guests come to stay. Do you have a pull out, or does your family live close? That is something we struggle with, not having private space for company.

    1. Great question! When we have guests come they sleep in our girls room. And we put the girls in with the boys. We’ll blow up air mattresses and it’s one big slumber party πŸ™‚ They LOVE it!

    1. Sorry, have another question too. πŸ˜‰ Do you have an ideal amount of clothing/shoes for each child that keeps things to a minimum?

    2. Yay! So glad you’re loving them! I keep ONE tiny basket of toys in the living room for Cash to play with. He wakes up super early each morning so it’s just the two of us in the living room until everyone else wakes up. This gives him something to play with while I do my Bible study and drink coffee. The rest of the toys stay in bedrooms. They’re definitely welcome to take them OUT of their rooms… but must put them BACK in their rooms when they’re done playing with them.

  2. This is great info to think about! We have 4 little ones and we live in a parish home because my hubby is a priest. It is a really big house, too big for me to clean and too much room to spread out! I’m trying to simplify our belongings this year and we’ve had a good amount of success with it so far, but still a ways to go. I am wondering, isn’t it so expensive each season trying to buy new clothes for all 5 of your kiddos? I have a “store” of hand-me-downs downstairs. My boys are 5 years apart and I have kept everything from big brother for little brother because I can’t fathom the thought of having to buy new clothes for ALL my kids each season. My girls are 20 months apart, so I do keep all the clothes for the next one (they are a size apart).

    1. It’s actually not expensive at all because I’m selling a lot of the clothing that they wear. Since it’s only being worn by one child (my boys wear most everything out!) then it’s nice enough to be sold. I’ll use that money to purchase their clothes for the next year. Also, I love to shop sales at the end of seasons and stock up on what I know we’ll need. Carters is one of my favorite place to shop because they have AMAZING sales at the end of each season as well as an opportunity to earn their “Carters money”.

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