8 Essential Tips for Parents Making the Most of Small Spaces
When we had our first baby we were living in a small condo in the heart of the city. Friends and family alike told us we needed to move but we didn't want to give up our fabulous location for a little extra space. So we stayed and made it work. Then we had a second baby and made that work too. Now we live in a house with more room, but we've added two additional children to the mix so we are still applying the tricks we learned to living in a small space with children to accommodate our family of six. Regular purging is key, as is ensuring you make quality decisions that don't result in a bunch of junk. Taking simple steps like going to the library for books can prevent books your child doesn't love from piling up. But, there are some things you will definitely need like a place for baby to eat, sleep, stroll, and be entertained. There are some things you can do to keep life from being too cluttered with a little forethought and discipline.
Go Light and Simple with Furniture:
Back when I was on my own I gravitated to a shabby chic look of mismatched old wooden furniture. Once we had kids and needed to find create space from our existing home I quickly learned the importance of light colors and matching patterns. I love the urbini Sweetli crib and matching changing table in white because the light color and simple, matching designs make the pieces appear to take up less space. As a bonus, since my baby is sharing a room and fitting everyone in required some creative thinking, a crib that converts to a toddler bed means you will not need to rearrange space (or spend extra money) when the baby gets bigger. A simple changing table can also later be used as a bookshelf or space for toy storage later on as well.
One trick to having enough room in a small space is to find toys or other items that serve more than one purpose. One gift we loved receiving is the Mamas & Papas Rock n'Ride Talking Lotty. It rocks, wheels, and talks so it can be played with multiple ways without the need for multiple toys. If you have more than one child, I also like toys like this one that can be used by different ages and stages of development in different ways. Other examples are dolls with more functions, such as the Learn to Dress Max or Hattie Dolls which can be cuddly and teach skills, and toys such as Whoozit Whoops that be used as lovies as well as attached to strollers, car seats, or playmats.
Use Travel Toys:
Many toys are made in smaller versions designed for travel. But, there is no reason you can't use the same toys in your home as part of your regular stash. Playskool makes a great, durable line of toys that we like including Stack n' Stow cups, Elmo's On the Go Letters, and even a mini-version of a Nerf basketball hoop.
Look for Non-Standard Gear:
It may seem like everyone has the basics, like a highchair, but there are variations that work just as well in a smaller package. One example is the Mountain Buggy pod high chair that takes up absolutely no floor space because it clips right onto the table. As a bonus, it can be easily taken to restaurants or Grandma's house. Another example is the Bright Starts Having a Ball Explore and Roar Activity Jumper which has many activities that go up rather than out and the Safari Sounds Musical Table which packs a lot into a small package with the ability to remove the legs for easier storage.
Finding a stroller that can fit easily in a small space yet can take you everywhere you need to go is a challenge. When I lived in a small apartment this was perhaps my biggest challenge. Again, looking for a stroller that is designed for travel might be your best bet. The smallest fold stroller I could find is the Nano, which fits in an overhead airplane compartment – or a closet or even under a bed.
If you have multiple children, or are thinking about having more, stick to gender neutral colors and toys as much as possible. This way you won't need to buy more, or duplicate toys, if your boy refuses anything pink. The lovely shades of reds and aquas used by many Mamas & Papas toys, for example, are fun and vibrant with a classic look. Same goes for clothes if children are close in age – white socks and onsies work well for everyone.
Some Toys Renew Themselves:
Some toys are different every time you play with them. With a few toys with near limitless possibilities you not only encourage your child's imagination but cut down dramatically on the amount of stuff you need. Building toys are a great example. Anything from simple blocks to Legos to Tinkertoys to more involved building toys like Roominate with real working circuits works. A new find for us is YOXO Toys, construction kits made from recycled wood, that can build creatures and are compatible with things you may have around the house (toilet paper rolls and boxes) for more elaborate building.
You may not need to look farther than household items to keep kids busy. Something I've learned from years of going to kids events is how easy it is to make creations like masks out of paper plates and everything from rockets to binoculars with a paper towel roll and some tape. Homemade play dough is another option for kids to make their own toys out of things you likely already have. Crafts like these are great for small spaces because you don't need to store anything you don't already have around the house to do them.
What tricks have you found for making the most of a smaller space?