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Our Essentials for Thriving in a Tiny Space

At the end of September we will hit our one year anniversary of living full-time in Betty White, our Casita Travel Trailer. We will have survived a whole year of living together in less than 100 square feet (and a year before that in less than 400 sq. ft. plus six months bouncing around between AirBnBs and family’s homes). Looking back on it it doesn’t really seem like it has been that long – even when some days have felt VERY long.  So in honor of our year in Betty White I thought I would share my thoughts on what has helped us thrive (or some days maybe just survive) in such a small space as a family.

1.  A sense of humor – This might go without saying but we have been reminded over and over again how essential it has been to keep a sense of humor throughout this process. To look back and laugh on our mishaps or even laugh at them in the moment. To make light of some experiences that are inconvenient or annoying or even stressful. To not take things so seriously (this was mostly my lesson – Adam is pretty good at that).

2. Allowing ourselves to be open – Saying yes to more things or at least not saying no immediately. Thinking outside the box and really considering and exploring things that might not be traditional (not that living in a camper of any size and traveling full-time is) or feel out of our comfort zones.

3. Communication – With each other but also with our family and friends who may not understand where we are coming from choosing to live nomadically and in such a small space.  As we have grown and changed over the last couple of years it has created distance from people who don’t live a similar life or by similar values and it takes a lot of work to bridge the gap. This has been an unexpected result of our life choices and maybe something I will write more about in the future.

4. Focusing on the positive, appreciating what we have. – Reminding ourselves when we feel ourselves become negative or complaining about things like having too much stuff in one space, lack of privacy or climbing over each other at night about why we chose this life and the things we do have because they have more value to us like being close as a family, traveling and exploring new places.

5. Patience – patience with ourselves and with each other. A reminder that change is not easy for anyone, adjustments take time and that we won’t always get things right.

6. Flexibility – to recognize something isn’t working, to not become to attached to an idea or place or process, to find something that is a better fit, to know when to move on or when to let go of something that provides no value. Reminding ourselves that just because we tried something and it isn’t the right fit for us it doesn’t need to be defined as failure.

7. Identifying and balancing priorities – being intentional about the choices that we make by identifying what our needs and priorities truly are and choosing to give up certain things for other things that may add move value, even if it makes us uncomfortable at first. For example, we chose to go without a traditional bathroom in our Casita to allow for a designated bed and play space for Idgie.

It may seem curious to some of you that I would think about what has helped us over the last year of living tiny because it is actually something we chose, but despite intentionally making the decision to live even smaller than we had been it was still a scary and challenging move. All of the things mentioned above are skills that I think are really essential for thriving in life in general  but living tiny had forced our hand at practicing some of these things on a regular basis and makes me more aware of them. For that I am thankful.

This post was written for inclusion in the September collection of the Small Family Homes Blog Community. Read below for more writings on living small from our community of writers. Check back next month for a new topic and posts in the series and follow our community board on Pinterest for the latest small homes and family minimalism pins!

Justice Pirate– “7 Simple Living Must-Haves” : When simplicity seems so far away or impossible to embrace, you realize it is the best and easiest way.
Little Bungalow– “Small Space Essentials” : My five favourite items for making small space living more enjoyable.
Real Food Simple Life– ” Furniture Free Living: A Necessity in our Small Family Home” : Why our large family decided to go furniture free and how it helps us thrive in a small family home.
A Life Shift– “10 Must-Haves for Small-Space Family Living”  : What is essential to how we live compared to families with more space?
Tiny Ass Camper– “Our Essentials for Thriving in a Tiny Space” : Reflections on what skills have become our essentials for thriving in less than 100 sq. ft.
Shelley Vanderbyl– “Home Design for Happiness” : Artist gives 10 ways to design your space for happiness.
RISING*SHINING– “Necessities in Our Smallish Home” : The tangible and intangible things that keep our home functional and enjoyable.
Fourth & West– “Hashtag Flexibility” : If one characteristic has punctuated our life in a small home, it is flexibility.
600 Sq Ft and a Baby– “Our necessities for small family living” : While I could list the items in our home that make small living possible (ahem, wall bed), it’s really about our commitment to living small and some questions we ask ourselves before we buy anything.

About Jenn

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8 Comments

  • Brittany @ Real Food Simple Life

    So true! I really liked this post. There are so many things you mentioned that we have found to be essential too. Especially patience and focusing on the positive because living in the size home we have is not a choice for us but a necessity and it can be hard sometimes.

    • Jenn

      Thanks Brittany! It definitely can be hard sometimes, thats one of the reasons why I love being part of this community.

  • A Life Shift

    It seems that flexibility has come up in several of the posts, whether it’s multipurpose furniture, objects that serve more than one purpose, being open to new ideas, or rethinking the “norm”. I totally agree that this is a skill that help anyone thrive at life in general. I also think it’s a valuable skill or way of thinking that translates into other areas of life. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jenn

      Yes! Thanks! Loved seeing this theme in others writing and definitely a skill for all areas of life.

  • Victoria the Justice Pirate

    Love this list. Patience is the hardest one for me lately though a lot of days I am surprised at the patience I have.

    • Jenn

      Thanks Victoria! Patience is definitely one of those things that can come and go based on many other factors 🙂

  • Shelley Vanderbyl

    Love the reminder to explore things that might not be traditional! We just have to do what works for our family don’t we?! Thank you!

  • Kelsey

    I love that this is all about mindset. What good life lessons these are!

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