small space living with two kids

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Back in May, I wrote about our ideas on how we planned to incorporate two kiddos in our small house. Now that we’re 3+ months into this dual kid routine, I thought it would be fun to stop by and update everyone on how we’re faring.

For the most part, we’re all cohabitating surprisingly well. I took these photos this weekend (and apologies on the quality, our DSLR died while we were in the hospital with Lillian (of course!) and it has not been replaced yet) and hopefully they have that “sorta cleaned up but definitely didn’t stage anything” quality to them.

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We didn’t want to make any major changes to Avery’s room right before or after her sister arrived, so we waited till last week to convert her crib to a toddler bed and move the glider and ottoman downstairs. Although she’s been able to easily climb in and out of her crib for a while now, she’s been such a solid sleeper that we didn’t want to rock the boat. But then Christmas came and went and quite frankly – we needed more space for her toys (she had four different Christmases this year!). So by moving the glider out and converting the crib, we were able to keep a spot to read books together while also freeing up more play space. After her first nap in the new bed, I found about five books and a dozen more stuffed animals with her but hey – she slept! We keep her room pretty dark so maybe that’s helped but overall we were pleasantly surprised that the transition went as smoothly as it did.

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One thing that we also started doing in the past year is rotating out books. Each month I’d buy a few more and pretty soon it was out of control and too overwhelming for Avery. So I moved all the baby board books to storage and put the remaining half (mostly the books that I just needed a break from!) in the fauxdenza. Although we don’t have any checked out at the moment, we usually also have 10-12 library books in the rotation too. (Pro tip – I used to impulse buy popular children’s books but instead I now check them out from the library first. If the book is still a top pick when it is time to be returned, then we go ahead and buy it.)

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Before Lillian came, we added the two top drawers to the wardrobe and tried to purge as much as possible. We use the bottom three drawers for toys and the top two for pajamas (for both girls), blankets, sheets, sleep sacks, swaddles, burp clothes, etc. The hanging rod is getting a bit cramped for both girls, but there are some things that could get folded if needed. (Each girl also has two drawers a piece in the dresser.)

Also, my sisters got Avery and Lillian dolls from Hazel Village for Christmas. I hadn’t heard of the company before but am totally in love.

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For the first month or so after we brought Lillian home, we had a stack of swaddles, burp cloths, diapers and wipes in the living room with a makeshift changing pad on the dining room table. Now that we’re in more of a schedule and not constantly feeding and changing diapers, we were able to return the living space to what it looked like before. Well, except for that damn swing. But I don’t care because that thing is MAGICAL. Both Avery and Lillian have napped for hours at a time in it so therefore it stays. For a few more months at least. πŸ™‚

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When we bought this coffee table, we raved about its hidden storage but little did we know it would one day be filled with art supplies! The coffee table actually spent some time in the carport (when Avery was learning to walk and for a while afterwards) but is now used mostly as a base for Duplo villages and a vessel for crayons, playdoh, paper and stickers. The unanticipated design feature is that the pop up “lids” are just tricky enough that Avery can’t open them by herself, making it the perfect spot to store things that you don’t want your toddler to have free reign over. πŸ™‚ (The dark blue part also opens up and is where we stash old 24″x36″ drawing sheets that Avery uses to draw or paint on.)

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Avery still uses the Stokke Tripp Trapp (it had a harness that we’ve since removed). I’m not sure yet what we’ll do once Lillian starts eating solids – we still have and love our Inglesina clip-on chair (in fact, Avery used it up till she was about 2!) and I just recently saw that they sell a snap-on tray which I WISH I WOULD HAVE KNOWN ABOUT before. So maybe we’ll just use that or maybe we’ll get another Tripp Trapp? We could transition Avery to a regular chair with a booster but I have yet to see an option that would fit well on the Eames fiberglass chairs. πŸ™‚ Although, if Lillian is as messy of an eater as her sister, I could also see myself getting the small IKEA highchair with detachable tray. Apparently they’re easy to hose off in the shower.

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For the first month or so, Lillian slept in a bassinet next to our bed. It was nice to have her close to me, but our bedroom is so compact that it also meant I didn’t have a nightstand during that time. And although I was feeling pretty positive about the bassinet the first go around, it’s not been as durable as I would have liked and even though it can be used as a lounger for older babies, neither girl seemed to love it so it’s back in the crawl space and will probably be sold at some point. Or maybe my feelings for it were just clouded by my COMPLETE LOVE of our mini crib. (Yes, that’s probably it.) We bought a used Bloom Alma mini crib from Craiglist and it has been fantastic. (In an interesting turn of events, the people we bought it from later became clients!) Even used it was still an investment, but I can say that we’ve been super pleased with the design and quality of construction so far. We haven’t had a need to fold and store it yet, but we do push it all around the house on a daily basis and the thing is solid.

Although I originally thought that we’d put the mini crib in my office/satellite nursery, we’ve found that it’s more convenient to keep it on the main floor. During the day we keep it at the foot of our bed (and she occasionally naps in there) and at night we roll it out into the dining room. Yeah, our 3-month old has been sleeping in the dining room for the last few months. And folks, it works. She’s far enough away that I don’t wake up to every little squeak, but close enough that I definitely hear the “I’m hungry!” cry. (And really, I’d hear that cry no matter where she was. It’s humorous to think that we actually used a monitor with Avery.) Eventually we’d like for both girls to share a room but it’s not going to happen until Lillian is consistently sleeping through the night. Even though Avery doesn’t wake up from small baby cries in the middle of the night, I think she would wake up if I was coming in and out of her room.

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The mini crib is also just a great place to put her down if say…I need to take a shower. My only hesitation with going the mini crib route was that it was a big investment for something that may not be used that long. Based on the reviews I’ve read, most kids tend to outgrow it by the time they’re 12 months and since she’s been in the 75th percentile thus far for length, we’ll be lucky to make it that far. So what’s our solution once that happens? Not sure yet – we have a few ideas, some of which would be the result of a complete reshuffling of spaces (more on that soon!) but bottom line is that I’m sure there is a solution that will work just fine. After all, we didn’t expect that her nursery would be that spot between the table and the pantry but it is and it works.

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The bathroom – not a lot of changes besides the addition of a step stool and tiny potty. We are not actively potty training yet, but started the propaganda several months ago. (The potty was purchased shortly after we found out we were having another girl. It was that purchase where I caved on the color pink.) And confession time – we hide the potty in the shower when we have client meetings at our house.

After searching for a aesthetically pleasing option, I found this step stool which is locally made in the Seattle area. Initially we wanted something that could fold up and be stored, but it really hasn’t been a big deal so far. Avery is still about a half-inch too short to fully reach the faucet handles, but I think it will serve us well for a long time (and it’s better than her using the toilet as a step stool!).

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The one thing I underestimated when designing our kitchen was the amount of space we’d need for baby/toddler paraphernalia. We now have an entire drawer in our island dedicated to plate, bowls, sippy cups, straw cups, bibs, place-mats, snack cups and who knows what else. Actually, I’m convinced that The Cup Conspiracy is the real problem here and if you’re a parent you know what I mean. Most cups are ok, but each one lacks in some department so you keep trying new cups hoping to find that perfect one (that doesn’t leak, mostly) but in actuality it DOES NOT EXIST. So then, you’re left with a drawer full of cups and broken dreams. Or something like that. The moral – I try hard to do my research and make smart decisions to limit the amount of STUFF we have but this one got away from me. (Fortunately, I’ve been a lazy pumper (for better or worse) this time around and so we’ve been able to avoid a lot of bottles.)

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Finally, here’s a few low-light photos of my office that I took today. Having the glider and a few other baby things down there definitely makes it feel cozy and is more practical since I typically have Lillian with me in the mornings. On the ledge is our surplus stash of baby board books that were recently retrieved from the crawl space. I know, I think I might have a problem. But with your first kid you just kinda acquire stuff over time and it isn’t until you bring it all back for #2 that you realize how ridiculous the situation is. I’ll probably go through and purge a lot of these books and then put half away until we grow bored with the others. I bought that Skip Hop activity gym to replace the more obnoxious Fisher-Price one we got for Avery but of course(?) babies have strong preferences and Lillian loves the Fisher-Price one. Sigh.

Miscellaneous gear: not pictured, but there are few other items that are worth the space they take up. We received a Boppy lounger and used it often during the first few months. She’s starting to roll and outgrow it now but I’d say still worth it. (I’ve also heard you can just throw a blanket over a Boppy nursing pillow but maybe not as effective?) We also own the ubiquitous Bumbo and it’s small and light enough that it gets moved from room to room. The jumper that we bought for Avery just came out for the first time last week and is easily stored under the couch or in the coffee table when not in use. There’s really no great space in our house for the carseat, so we just keep it on the bench next to the TV. It’s only a matter of time before it stops coming inside so we’re ok with the temporary solution. The stroller situation, however, is less ideal. We bought a double tandem stroller which I really like but it is kind of a beast and the only place it seems to fit is in the car. That works fine most of the time unless we need the extra space and then it just goes in the house. We also still own our Chicco umbrella stroller (it’s great for travelling) but use it so infrequently that it lives in the basement. (Fun fact: I bought that particular stroller because it reclines all the way back and thought Avery could nap it in while we were out and about or traveling. Well, that didn’t happen so much but we did find that it was AWESOME to put Lillian in (fully reclined) during airport layovers.)

So that’s how we’re managing with two little ones. It’s usually a little chaotic (I snapped the photo below while trying to write this blog post, Avery managed to turn my office upside down in approximately 2.5 seconds), but in a good way. We know that Lillian is still a baby and that the true test is yet to come but we’re staying optimistic. Although there are certainly challenges with living small with little people (such as acoustical privacy and isolating messy activities), I’d say one major advantage is that Avery can have a lot of independence without us worrying that she’s getting into trouble (since we can always at least hear her). I remember having a conversation with other moms expecting their second about what their toddler would do while they breastfed and it’s been a total non-issue with us. Avery simply plays like she would if I was unloading the dishwasher or doing something else. And even though she can create a ridiculous mess in no time at all, limiting what we own in the first place makes it pretty easy to return things to order at the end of the day.

Phew, ok – what are your strategies for living small with kiddos? I want to know!

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Want to read our past posts on living small with a baby? Here’s one from when Avery was a newborn, when Avery was six months, and then a more thorough round-up right before she turned one.

Psst…we’re wrapping up schematic design on the garage/carport remodel and plan on sharing it here soon!

Comments

41 Responses to “small space living with two kids”

  1. Phoebe says:

    hehe looks like toddler bed for Avery = Bailey gets to snuggle in bed with her πŸ™‚

  2. Jessica says:

    I also just discovered the clip on tray for the Inglesina and am SO MAD I didn’t see it before, would have made life so much easier.

  3. Anne says:

    We have a pretty small mid-century ranch in Boulder and we also have a video monitor for our nursery. We turned the noise to mute because we can hear everything, but the video part was helpful for us to figure out what all the noises meant. And now I use it to stare at my sleeping baby because he’s just so darn cute.

    Thanks for posting what has worked for you. I’ve got baskets for toys (even with just a 4-month old) in every room to try to contain the mess. Someday we’ll get around to making a more dedicated play space. Someday.

    • Lauren says:

      I’ve thought about doing a video monitor for the same reasons. πŸ™‚ The basket strategy is actually pretty effective I think – we do that in our living area (for Duplos/Brio/Playmobil) and I think it helps to separate activity and not have ALL the toys in one place. (And things don’t get mixed together, which is a challenge now with a toddler and her organization-loving mama!)

  4. katie says:

    That photo of Bailey in the bed is the best! It sounds like you all are adjusting to life with 2 little ones, I’m sure that it helps that you’ve made your house so flexible. I laughed about your cup issue – I feel the same way. And then of course, I finally find some that work, and I keep forgetting them at other peoples’ houses!

    One thing that has worked well for us – I purchased 5 or 6 totes/bins that we use for toy storage. We keep some in our coffee table (lucky accident that 3 fit perfectly in the table), a couple in the office, and some upstairs. The totes make for easy toy clean up, plus we can rotate through as needed. I also have purchased large plastic storage containers specifically for baby/kid things, and as soon as he outgrows something or no longer needs something, I try to be good about throwing it into the container. I just keep one at the bottom of his closet at all times, and once it’s full, it goes to storage.

  5. Nikki says:

    I hear you on so many of these things. That swing is such a square-footage hog, but my second daughter loved it. Also, I have just given up on the cups. If it doesn’t leak, it is too hard to drink from.

    Our last house was a 2-bedroom. We had hoped to room our daughters together, but it never happened. My second one’s sleep fell apart after 4 months and she needs her own room. Glad we are in a 3 bedroom now. Hope you have better luck!

    • Lauren says:

      We have a few contingency plans that revolve around the sleep thing. πŸ™‚ Avery was (and is) an awesome sleeper and Lillian is pretty average so far but I have my fingers crossed she follows her sister’s lead.

  6. Preeti says:

    The toddler bed picture is amazing!

    I hear you about the sippy cup dilemma. Our pediatrician recommended the Munchkin ones. Apparently, there are two similar looking cups by munchkin. But we’ve had amazing luck with the Mighty Grip ones http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001QXCF0S. No leaks or spills in the past 1 year.

  7. Emily says:

    Only 2 Bailey photo bombs? He’s getting lazy πŸ™‚

  8. Kara says:

    I have a quick, very important question: Does your Ikea still sell the wooden kid hangers?!

  9. Kyle Zerbey says:

    They’re actually from storables. Don’t think ikea has ever had them:)

  10. Ilze says:

    Our space saver was Babybjorn Bouncer Balance (one like this http://www.amazon.com/BABYBJORN-Bouncer-Balance-Black-Cotton/dp/B00BQYVOKY/). It folds flat and when folded takes basically no space at all! It is pricey though especially since I found it useful only for first 6 months (until baby starts to sit up on his own), but the only thing I regret is not buying it sooner : ) It was used daily mostly in the kitchen – my youngest daughter loved it, she did not sleep in it much, but she enjoyed bouncing herself a lot and keeping me company while I cooked or did some arts with the eldest (2 at that time). And I think I will be able to sell it for reasonable money later.

    • Lauren says:

      Thanks Ilze, we were actually going to get that when Avery was a newborn but opted out since our rocker/napper was supposed to have a similar function (though it’s not really the same). Now I kinda wish we’d got it for Lillian but think it might not be worth it if she’s only got a few months left. πŸ™‚ We’ve used the Boppy lounger in a similar way but would be nice to have the bouncing aspect…

      • Ilze says:

        Officially it can be used until approx 2 years (weight limit is 29 lbs), it is just my experience that around 6 months my youngest started to wriggle so much, it did not look like she enjoys it at all. May be different kid would love it longer. Or not love it at all : )
        Bouncing was big hit for us, but a word of caution – it can not be “turned off”. So as soon as my daughter discovered it, she often bounced like crazy and sometimes it got me “seasick” just by looking at her bouncing πŸ˜€

  11. zara says:

    I’m intrigued by the jumper you guys have. It has really great reviews and my little guy loves to bounce so he’d probably love it, but how does it attach to your door? Do you use the clamp or do you use the hook drilled into the moulding? I have a super old (100+) year old house and the door frames are pretty chunky so I’m not sure the clamp would work but I don’t really want to put a giant hole in our door frame. hrm…..

  12. Rosie says:

    I love this! We’ve got a 2yo and a 4mo and like you, try to limit how much their ‘stuff’ impacts on our living! We still need to purge, and you seem to have much better control than me over buying things, but for 2015 I’m not going to buy ‘things’ anymore, only items (clothing/toys) that I really love and think will be used well across 2 kids (both boys!). We have a cupboard for cups plates lunchboxes etc too, and like you, wish we’d planned it better when we designed our kitchen! In regards to cups – the Skip Hop Zoo drink bottles are the only ones I’ve found that do EVERYTHING. I’ve just started a collection for #2, ensuring the animals are different so there’s no confusion over whose is whose! I’ve never had one leak, they can’t be poured out easily (by mischievous toddlers!), they go in the dishwasher, come with a spare straw and sipper, and are easily managed alone from about 10-12 months.

  13. Rosie says:

    Oh and in regards to high chairs? We bought a second Tripp Trapp. Our first son loves his, and will sit in it until he needs a desk chair in his room, so we figured another one was a good investment. We even got the infant seat and have used it so much, I sort of wish we had it for our first. But then, I could just pop him easily on the floor, there was no chance of him being wiped out by a rambunctious toddler!

  14. Kate F says:

    It’s always fun to see what Avery is up to, since she’s about the same age as my daughter. One thing that could help clear all those cups to storage until Lillian needs them: See if Avery is ready for an open cup. With my son (now 4) we didn’t even TRY normal cups until he was at least 3, if not older. We used Zoli cups and put up with the leaking because we liked the straws. But my daughter started preschool a year earlier, at 2, and I realized around Thanksgiving that she drinks out of open cups at school. Sure enough, I tried her on the small cups my son had been using (glass french-style juice cups from Ikea, probably about 6 oz. size. They’re so small and easy to holds because of the dents in the sides) and she’s totally fine with them!

    For open-cup training, you might pick up the plastic kid’s cups at Ikea, but once she’s reliable we’ve had the same set of 6 juice glasses for almost 2 years now, knock wood. I need more/a bigger glass for my poor son, who needs about 5 refills at every meal. And they stack!

    • Lauren says:

      Thanks Kate! Same story here – she uses regular cups at preschool but when we try at home it always seems to lead to disaster. I probably just need to have a bit more patience. πŸ™‚ We also let her take water with her to bed and have definitely learned the hard way which cup/lid combos work for that!

      • Kate F says:

        Ha, water to bed was such an issue with my son (try a Contigo kids water bottle; I’ve had the least leaks with those in general) that I’ve never even offered it as an option to my poor daughter! It was TORTURE taking his water away when he potty trained, OMG. Of course, at 2.5 she’s still hooked on pacifiers at night (with the blessing of the dentist and pedi, to my surprise), so…

        • Lauren says:

          Our daughters sound very similar. πŸ™‚ My pediatrician actually said to wait till she’s closer to 3 to go to the dentist (she still doesn’t have her 2 y.o. molars) if I wanted to buy myself some more pacifier time. πŸ™‚

  15. Looks sort of like my house! 1300 SF w/ 6 kids. Doing a remodel now…your remodel is inspiring. Keep up the good work.

  16. SMZ says:

    Love this post and am always so impressed with how you live in a small space. We have a toddler and are thinking about baby number 2 so love hearing about your tips and tricks you’ve learned.

  17. Tarynkay says:

    I completely agree regarding the Cup Conspiracy. I really really hate sippie cups. Even if you can find a leak proof cup (which does not exist) your savvy toddler will just find a way to defeat it. Or you will spend $25 on the perfect cup and then leave it at the park. So here is what we did: we gave up on sippie cups at around a year and just gave him an actual cup. There was a learning curve, but it wasn’t that bad, and now we don’t have to remember his cup when we are going to someone else’s house or a restaurant or whatever. We started him out on those tiny duralex glass cafe glasses. They are very sturdy and a nice size.

    We also never bought plastic kid dishes. We fed him off first the bare high chair tray and then regular dishes. He uses regular silverware (salad forks and teaspoons instead of dinner forks and soup spoons) We have a very active now three year old boy who sincerely enjoys breaking things. But he doesn’t throw our plates, and neither do any of the many kids I babysit. I don’t know why- maybe it is because plastic plates look like frisbee and thus invite throwing? So anyhow, that is my recommendation for living in small spaces with kids- get rid of the plastic dishes and sippie cups! Reclaim your cabinet space!

    • Lauren says:

      We’re definitely moving in that direction – she’s just a MESSY eater so the cups with lids mitigate some of that. πŸ™‚ I could definitely purge that drawer – there are certain “duds” that just never get used that we could donate. At least with the second kid you know what works and what doesn’t I guess! (Although I have to admit, I bought two new cups after reading the comments. Blog post fail?) πŸ™‚

  18. Marta says:

    I love how versatile your house has become and changes/will change in time with the family needs πŸ™‚

    I just found on the ikea website/bathroom storage a picture that seems very much your bathroom cabinet… http://www.ikea.com/ms/img/ads/vitality/201523/message_in_product_list/201523_bamp05a/201523_bamp05a_01_PE175509.jpg Seems you’re an inspiration for ikea as well πŸ˜‰

    • Lauren says:

      Thanks Martha, our mirror/cabinet looks like IKEA because it is IKEA! It’s part of the Molger series and we bought it in 2008 but they since discontinued it. Interesting that it’s on the IKEA website now but doesn’t appear to be available for purchase… (at least I didn’t see it on there). I hope they do bring it back though because we really like it and so many people have asked us about it!

      • Marta says:

        I thought it was your idea to join two molger cabinets, to get a DIY personalized version of the molger mirror… maybe I did not understand well?
        It’s a pity that they discontinued them, in Europe as well…

  19. Kim says:

    Your blog is such an inspiration. We will soon be adding a second kiddo (in April!) to our 1000-square-foot house and I love getting ideas from you! We recently bought a Tripp Trapp and I love that my son can climb up and down himself (as opposed to very-pregnant-me having to lift him in and out of his Phil and Ted’s clip-on chair). Thank you!

    As for drinking (straw) cups, The One that NEVER leaks for us is this one. We love it… It was recommended by a friend and we think it was the best purchase ever.

    http://www.amazon.com/Thermos-Phases-Stainless-Bottle-10-Ounce/dp/B00849L3QO/ref=pd_sim_ba_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=14MDGG0M4F40JNDTVQB8

  20. Angela S says:

    In the last photo of Avery with her toys everywhere and her arms in the air — I cannot even tell you how long it took me to realize there was a baby in the photo too — Lillian lost in the toy clutter.

  21. Thea says:

    Really inspiring! Your home is lovely! You have some very happy kiddos in this lovely place! Great design! Thanks for the photos! It all looks fantastic! Great job!

  22. Marian says:

    Hi! Id the rug in the nursery Flor? It looks awesome!

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