Living In Smaller Spaces

Growing up I can remember swearing that when it was my turn, I’d have a large home over a small one, and ideally a sprawling one (single storey) rather than stacked. The rationale was that it drove me crazy to feel like I was in close quarters with the rest of my family, particularly during my teenage years. Larger home meant more opportunity for privacy and bungalow meant potentially greater ‘distance’ from others.

Fast forward to 2 years ago and I found myself in the complete opposite situation. Living in the Pacific Northwest, we, like so many others found ourselves in a relatively small apartment (~1,100 square feet) spread across 2 levels. Fine for two of us, but what about baby?

Fast forward to today and we find ourselves with a relatively happy and healthy toddler in that same apartment. So far things are working well, but I have no illusions that were he to be in his teens he would see it very differently. As well, I’m starting to realize that even at his young age it would be nice to have some additional space or at least that we did a better job of using our existing space.

The following article, Chill-Out Corner: A PositiveTool for Learning Emotional Self Regulation, draws attention to the fact that as our toddler has continued to grow and mature I may not have continued to consider his needs and revisit the layout and makeup of our home environment. While the article discusses the subject in the context of a place for a child to go when he needs to ‘chill out” I think it applies equally to the discussion of other, more general scenarios as well. Does your child have an environment that allows him or her to deal with life in a safe, comforting, familiar way?

Our son has a need for privacy. He has a need for a safe, comfortable space. While he has his room, we haven’t done a good job (in my opinion) of making sure that its decorated / designed appropriately and in such a way that he sees it as HIS ROOM. Today it serves a shared purpose. We store random stuff in his closet. We hang our coats on his wall. Two of the walls are bare. The lighting doesn’t provide a warmth that makes you want to spend time in that space.

Time to get to work!

Christmas 2012. The Haul.

So, we’ve failed. Clearly. We’ve failed in our promise to ourselves that we wouldn’t allow the toy situation get out of control. I clearly remember visiting friends’ homes and cringing at the piles of toy cars and sports equipment that just seemed to occupy every nook and cranny of their previously tidy homes.

We promised ourselves that wouldn’t be us.
We failed in that promise.

As a result of Christmas 2012 I now have a new project on my hands. Identify, review and select Vancouver-based services that accept used toys, kids books and children’s clothing and put them, or their proceeds to good use.

While our situation may not be as bad as most, our little guy certainly has more toys right now than he needs, or frankly than he can manage. More concerning, where prior to Christmas he showed little interest in either presents or the idea of new toys, he now considers anything loosely resembling a present as being something that should be his, and to my dismay he’s asked me if he can have “new cars.”

I figure there’s no time like the present to try and change that attitude and to reduce both the clutter and amount of distraction for him in and around our home.

I’m open to any suggestions for worthy recipients of toys, clothes and books in good to excellent condition. Currently I’m thinking of:
Vancouver Public Library for the books.
Big Brothers for toys and clothes that our friends’ kids won’t be able to use.