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6 Tips for Living in a Tiny House with Kids

6 Tips for Living in a Tiny House with Kids

January 10, 2017 0 Comments

BY  Micah Whitehead, Tiny House Family.

 

The tiny house community doesn’t talk much about going tiny with children—probably because there are so few of us brave enough, but we decided to follow our dream and share our story with the world. Last March, myself along with my wife Jana and little son Silas, made a giant move across the country from Birmingham, Alabama, following a career move to the west coast. However, with the Bay Area’s high cost-of-living, we needed to get creative. A tiny house on wheels, a long-time dream of ours, was the answer, offering the stability of home ownership, sustainable living, and flexibility that suits our evolving lifestyle. And we do it with a child with plans for another. 

We’re chasers and adventurers. There is something about the freedom of living tiny that we’re drawn to. We see tiny living as a healthy lifestyle that allows for financial independence, freedom, and adventure during the prime years of our life. Our son will be given incredible experiences throughout his childhood. The whole world is our backyard! And we hope to inspire others to achieve their own tiny house dreams.

Tiny House Family - Micah Whitehead and Wife


Here are six lessons-learned over the first year of living tiny with a child. 

1. Design your space with a child in mind.

Children have lot of needs, especially babies. For two years, we dreamed about building our house. We binged watched the shows, scoured YouTube, bought plans and developed a sense of what we wanted. There wasn’t much out there on how to build for a baby so we hope you find value in our experiences. 

Tiny House Family - Open Living Space


Things we did right:

- Got a huge sink. With sippy cups, high-chair trays, and all the other things kids get dirty, the dishes pile up quick. With no space for a dishwasher, you're going to need some elbow room. 

- A queen-sized bed. Co-sleeping works best for us in a tiny house, at least for now. A big bed certainly requires some sacrifice (we don’t have a dresser), but so worth it. Our sleeping loft is the coziest, most peaceful part of our home. 

- Lots of windows. We have 14, and that was after we made cuts due to budget. The more natural light, the bigger your space feels. This might be the most impactful decision we made. 

- A light, bright interior. One of the most notable things in our tiny house is the the white ship-lap interior, which gives our space a beautiful, airy feel. The white paint and simple decor opens the space. Magic erasers are our friends. We keep little soap-based crayons so Silas can color on the walls for quick entertainment, and cleanup is easy. 

- Two lofts. With a large sleeping loft and a second, smaller “lounge loft” we have a space now to escape to with a TV and mounds of comfy pillows. It also serves as an extra storage space for things we need to keep out of Silas’ reach, but it will be converted to his sleeping space as he get’s older and we kick him out of our bed. 

- Open layout. Our tiny house is essentially one giant room with many different functions. Everyone who visit says it feels much bigger than they expected. We’ve visited many tiny homes, and this is not always the case. The openness along with the white walls and 14 windows make our space feel very comfortable. Honestly, it feels bigger and more functional than many of the apartments we’ve lived in over the years. 

- Full closet. This is a must. Our closet features extra storage in the back wall space for our hide-away items and seasonal clothing. The closet is filled to the brim with clothes for all three of us—mommy and daddy on the top with Silas on the bottom—and the entirety of Silas’ toy collection. Silas actually has more clothes than both Jana and I (more stylish too).

- Double french doors. Opened up, we feel connected with the outdoors. Once we build a full-sized covered deck, these doors will essentially double our space when open. The extra light is also a welcome addition. 

Tiny House Family - Open Living Space with Kitchen


Things we wish we would have done: 

- Got a railing for the stairs and larger railing for the lofts. We installed a railing on each loft, but our son is a wild climber, and the fall could be dangerous. We built a custom baby gate once we moved in, which helped, but now he can climb that too. The constant stair struggle is the most stressful part of living tiny with a toddler. 

- Installed a pocket door for the bathroom. Our bathroom is lovely, but the door opens inward, and it takes a little bit of maneuvering to access certain things with the door open.  
- Vent the washer and dryer. Our combo unit is convenient because we can wash and dry with one cycle. However, it wasn’t vented outside, so it takes a LONG time to dry. We try and wash every day to avoid pile up, but, with multiple loads, it’s easier to wash remotely. 

- Not put engineered hardwood flooring in the bathroom. With a toddler in the shower, he tends to drip and splash everywhere, and our hardwoods have already started to float and peel in places. If we could go back, we’d have installed something a bit more water resistance near the shower entrance to accommodate wet feet and spill-over. 

- Got a small tub. We made the decision to save space with a shower only. Big mistake. We have plenty of space, but totally miss out on bath time. The shower works; Silas doesn’t know anything different, but we feel like we’re missing out on that little bit of his childhood.

- Parked in a space that allowed us to build a porch. With our current location, this isn’t an option. But with a child, a great outdoor space is essential to fully enjoy your experience.

Tiny House Family - Child Gate for Stairs and French Doors

2. Don’t buy into stuff, especially when you are pregnant.

Everyone says you need all kinds of stuff for a baby: swings, expensive baby bathtubs, bottle warmers, bassinets, cribs, changing stations, swaddles, rocking chairs, changing tables…the list goes on. Babies don’t need as much stuff as you think they do. Having stuff won’t make your kids happy. Your attention makes them happy. Kids value love and affection above all else. Living in a tiny space makes you more connected to your children just by close proximity. You can get creative with the rest. 

Tiny House Family - Silas Closet Toys


3. Give them lots of experiences.

Kids don’t like to be cooped up in a tiny house all day. Silas is constantly wanting to go outside, and we make sure to give him lots of adventure. Parks, walks and weekend adventures are a necessity for a balanced childhood and our sanity. 

Tiny House Family - Extra Bedroom Loft


4. Don’t stress about mess.

Our tiny house get’s destroyed fast. Silas can rip apart the entire space before you can finish peeing. Living in such a small place means constant cleaning, but a quick, thorough cleaning can take as little as 15 minutes. Life doesn’t allow for it to stay messy very long, and we are tidier because of that. 

Tiny House Family - Silas Eating


5. Focus on quality over quantity.

This is good advice across the board for tiny housers, but especially with kiddos. Get one pair of all-weather boots and a pair of jeans they love, for example. This will save closet and headspace. 

Tiny House Family - Master Bedroom Loft with Queen Bed


6. One thing in, one thing out.

This is the golden rule in our house. Life means accumulating stuff. When we can’t avoid it, this rule keeps us minimal and de-cluttered. Get a new toy or pair of shoes…what are you going to throw out? One thing in, one thing out—always. 

Bonus! Another game we love and practice randomly: 21 things. We challenge each other to find 21 things to throw away or donate once a month or whenever needed. They can be as large or a small as we want—even a crayon or used bottle cap will do. Only rule is that 21 things must go. 

Tiny House Family - Bathroom with Shower

Living simply has helped us appreciate the little things and big adventures, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It may not be the easiest at times, but our tiny house has made us more intentional with our time, money and relationships. Follow our journey on Instagram and subscribe to our weekly vlog for more big adventures in our tiny home. 


Love, 
Tiny House Family

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