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Monday, March 24, 2014

Raising a Larger Family in a Smaller Space

We've had several people lately encouraging us to look for a larger house.  We have 5 children, and are in the process of adopting at least 2 more.  Our home is about 1860 square feet - 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms.  It was the quite large for us when we bought it almost 10 years ago (with only one kiddo), it was the perfect size when we had only 3 kids, but now it does often seem quite snug with five kiddos - and with us homeschooling.  However, not only have we found ways to make it work - we have discovered that there are wonderful bonuses to raising a larger family in a smaller space.

Here are a few of the bonuses we've discovered over the last several years:
1. More Family Time - with only one living space (we converted our formals to a schoolroom), we spend most evenings together.  We have family TV night at least 2 times a week (we love to watch the Voice together and pretend like we're the judges).  We play games together (we love Wii Sing It especially).
2. Quick Pick Up - with less rooms to clean, everyone is assigned a room at chore time (4pm everyday) and we usually get it all picked up in less than 30 minutes.
3. Less Shenanigans - I rarely have to worry about where my kids are in the house and what they're doing because just about everywhere in the house is within earshot of everywhere else.  With at least 2 very mischievous kiddos, this is a big time bonus.
4. Sibling Bonding - because all our kids have to share bedrooms and spend all day every day together, they have learned to get along.  They actually like each other - they are good friends.  This wouldn't be so surprising if they weren't so far apart in ages and stages - our kids are 13, 7, 6, 2 and not yet 1 month old - but they like hanging out together.  I truly believe that room sharing encourages bonding.  We actually have the 13 year old sharing with the 7 year old and the 6 year old sharing with the 2 year old. Seems like odd matching, but it has encouraged the two oldest to become closer (even though they're 6 years apart).  
5. Right Priorities - Smaller home = less stuff.  We've learned to throw things away.  We've learned to prioritize.  We've learned that more stuff does not equal more happiness.  Each of our kids have learned to get by with less - less clothes - less toys - less stuffed animals (although in my opinion we still have way too many!).  Games and toys are kept in family spaces and are for everyone to share (this was a hard adjustment, but definitely a worth-while one!)  We definitely still have a way to go on this one - and are constantly purging our home of things we don't need - but we've come a long way for sure.

In preparing for our potential adoption, we know that we will have to convert our garage to more bedrooms to make room for 2 or 3 more kiddos.  We know it seems nuts to some that we would make the investment to convert a space instead of simply buying a bigger house.  However, a bigger mortgage is not something we consider an option at this point - and even if it was, we love our house.  We've spent many years making it our home and we truly believe that whether we are a family of 7 or even more we can make this place work for us - not because of it's size but because of our perspective.
As our kids grow up, we hope and pray that they will also grow close - as siblings and as friends.  Instead of making sure they have plenty of space and stuff - we want to make sure they have strong sibling bonds, lots of laughter and silliness and above all a strong sense of family!

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