When soon-to-be or current parents think of moving into a tiny house, their first thought is usually where on earth are we going to put our kids? "There's barely enough space for one of us, much less three of us!"
Fear not, the #DreamTeam has come up with some pretty ingenious ways to give your kids some dedicated sleep and play space, while keeping you sane with your decision to downsize.
We co-sleep in the loft, and used some storage baskets as a “baby gate” while we’re sleeping up there. We also hung a bassinet from the roof with a pulley system so it’s out of the way when not in use! We store all of our kids toys on the floor of our closet in baskets.
We live in our Tiny Haus with our 2 children; Ella, 6 and Frankie, 9 months. Their needs are quite different, so we ensure that our home evolves with them.
During the planning and build of our home, we had Ella—we wanted to grow our family so we planned for that. We had a limit on how big our Tiny Haus could be due to a council regulation which limits the % of land you can use for buildings.
We knew we wanted a room for ourselves and one for the children, but with limited space this was proving difficult. When you’re faced with constraints, often this makes you the most creative and we came up with a kids vertical bedroom.
The kids’ room is basically the size of a single bed with a little extra length. There are 2 beds, like bunks, a play area at the bottom, a wardrobe and shelf unit… Everything that a “normal” bedroom includes, but in a space that is creative and fun.
During the initial planning stage, we had a ladder on the wall so the kids could access the beds. But one night during the build, my husband came up with this awesome, fun way that the kids could access their bed. In addition, it created additional storage (that we use for bags, the vacuum, ironing board and day-to-day stuff, like wallets, keys, etc.).
Dan & I got really caught up on this during the planning and the build, but it really hasn’t been as difficult as we thought. Dan & I can still climb into the beds through the tiny door (as can my 60-year-old mother in law, who sleeps in here when she visits).
We pull the sheet over the corners by lifting the mattress and then give it a little tug from underneath, then the pillow and doona get thrown on. A little tidy from the end and we’re done. It’s a little more effort than a ‘normal’ bed, but way cooler! We change the sheets each fortnight and Ella makes her bed each day before coming down in the morning.
We also added a couple of nets to make sure the space is safe. Ella can read books on the top net. We are currently planning to add a safety gate to the end of the lower bunk.
Dan is all about the fun, so during the construction Dan added talking tubes, so the kids can chat to each other whilst lying in bed or playing underneath. When friends visit, they spend hours playing in the kids’ room, up and down into each level.
Frankie was born when we had lived in our Tiny Haus for about 9 months. For the first 3 months, she was in a moses basket next to our bed—when she grew out of this, we purchased a second-hand mini cot that is on wheels. She stayed in our room for another 3 months and we then moved her into the play area of the kids’ bedroom.
We think that the cot will be good until about 18 months and at that time, we will make the decision if she will move into one of the bunk beds, with some modifications so she can’t get out or we will replace the cot with a toddler bed in the play area. We change Frankie on our bed, on a change mat that is stored in our wardrobe and we keep all nappy changing items in our linen press in our bedroom, it’s all within easy reach.
No, they don’t. Frankie is in bed asleep before Ella goes into bed, Ella will read a book with her head board light on or plays a quiet game with her soft toys and we play children’s meditation, without disturbing Frankie.
Frankie does still wake during the night, mostly once or twice (but can be up to five or six times!). I’m able to not rush in to get her—I can wait a few minutes to see if she will settle back to sleep. Frankie or I are yet to disturb or wake Ella. We also play soft music all night. Their room is right next to the lounge room and when the girls are in bed, we play music or watch TV without disturbing them. We did install solid core doors and all the walls are insulated to help with noise reduction.
We haven’t had any serious nights of sickness, but I would imagine it would be the same as a normal night with sickness—pulling sheets off the bed into the wash, etc. We have had a couple of nights of high temperatures where the kids have ended up in our bed. We also have an inflatable kids’ bed that we haven’t had to use, however we could set-up next to our bed for those nights we want them close to us.
Each level of the kids’ bedroom has an opening window with safety screening installed so there is no chance of falling out or accessing the pool. The beds are over engineered so we’re confident they are much safer than a traditional bunk bed.
We’re not 100% sure, but we’ll see how it goes. One thought is to change the height of the beds and add a desk to the end of each bed. Since going tiny we spend more time outdoors, so will the girls need a large bedroom or a comfortable bed to sink in at the end of a day full of adventures? We don’t have all the answers at this moment, but we don’t feel like as if we need to—we’ll take it as it comes.
With Frankie moving into the play area of the kids’ room, we wanted to ensure that Ella still had her own place that she could have her toys and we didn’t have to worry that Frankie would put a toy in her mouth, so we decided to create a play room underneath our bed. Ella and her friends love it—a friend once said, “It’s just like Harry Potter!”. This gives Ella and her friends a place to play whilst Frankie naps in the other room or if they want to play in the kids’ bedroom, we simply roll Frankie’s cot into our room.
We’ve had people tell us that they are concerned that children play under our bed. The safety of our children is paramount and we would never put our child at risk. The brackets that we have selected for under the bed are heavy-duty and are well oversized for the weight of this bed. We are extremely confident they will not fail; we would never put our children at risk. I can hang from the open bed with my full weight without the bed folding.
When moving into our Tiny Haus, we did need to minimize the number of toys we had. We included Ella in this process—we teach her about not placing value in ‘things’, but for a 4-year-old (at the time), it was a difficult concept to come to grips with. Whilst she was happy to donate some things, a lot of things she didn’t. We continue teaching this concept today, but it is important to us we don’t just throw away her things and that she needs to make the decision herself.
We have a book shelf which stores books, toys and keep safes. We also have baskets of toys along with arts and crafts in the under-bench seating in the lounge room and toys in the under bed play room. We also do toy rotation and have a couple of boxes of toys in our shed that we change over every couple of weeks or so.
We also recently joined a toy library, where we can borrow toys and baby items. Especially with baby items, they are only used for such a short period of time.
We answer with a resounding, YES! Our children want to be close to us and that is exactly where they are in our home. I can easily keep an eye on them from anywhere in our home.
We aren’t precious about the spaces—our lounge room can easily morph into a cubby house with a sheet thrown over the lounge. It’s all about a bit of creativity and letting your inner child come out!
This is likely one of the biggest perceived challenges to going tiny. The reality is, that the challenge of having a baby or toddler in a tiny house is likely a relative one, depending on your parenting style. For us, living in a tiny home promotes and fosters our family dynamic, and does not present a greater challenge than living deliberately in a larger space.
Co-sleeping is a parenting choice that many make, and obviously has large implications for the first year or so of life with a baby. We co-slept while in an apartment prior to going tiny, and then transitioned our little one to her own crib and room. But the reality was, that she ended up back in bed with us nightly anyway. So, when we went tiny, we simply kept a king-sized bed in our loft, and let her come back in to our family bed from about 12 to 18 months.
That being said, you need-not co-sleep to live tiny! We’ve posted photos of our loft storage nook as it could have been configured for a single person, with our full-sized dresser (fit for a couple), with a travel crib for a newborn, and with a toddler bed, which is how we currently use the space. As we continue to tell people, tiny homes are incredible adaptable, despite their small square footage.
You can obviously choose to have a downstairs nursery/kids’ room, which also is attractive to older guests and family that may visit and stay. But this also limits your use of the main living space during nap and bedtime. We have chosen to share the master loft with our little one, which gives us the entire main living space after she goes down.
For a shared master loft, you may want to consider having a loft that can be fully closed—both for safety and sound considerations. We’ve done much of this ourselves, and are happy to advise. Obviously, for young kids and recovering mamas, stairs are much easier to deal with than ladders. Aside from that main design feature, much else can be DIY-ed and changed to suit your family’s changing needs.
Consider designated and dedicated spaces for your kids’ toys and things. Spaces that can be hidden, when you want to reclaim the space. See our post to see how we gave our daughter toe-kick storage drawers, a hidden play kitchen, and chalkboards that can be cleaned and hidden.
Rotating toys and books help to keep the space fun, but minimally cluttered. We have converted some window ledges and trim in to book shelves. And rediscover your local library!
Focus on buying quality goods and items, which you will likely be able to find used, and will hold resale value for when it’s time to move on to the next size, etc. Finally, encourage your family to give experiential gifts—things that promote non-material wealth, and the opportunity to do things outside the home. These are often some of the most meaningful gifts, and best of all for living tiny, they don’t require space in the home!
We opted to give our daughter an L-shaped loft on the opposite side of the house from our bedroom...it has worked perfectly for us. Escher’s bed has three walls and we use a curtain to black it out while she sleeps. Throw in a white-noise machine and it’s not a big deal at all. She takes a 2-3 hour nap every day and we’ve literally had dinner parties while she sleeps up there. It hasn’t been an issue.
The L-shaped loft also creates a natural play space right in front of her bed so she really has her own room. I don’t completely understand why this style of loft hasn’t become more popular. I think it’s just another case of designers trying to maximize square feet, rather than maximizing the actual utility of the space. Using soft and hard barriers in creative ways is essential to good tiny house design, in my opinion.