Monday, March 9, 2015
How (& Why) We Squish 4 Kids in a 3 Bedroom House
In the past 9 years we've added 4 kids and subtracted one income. Today (thanks to the grace of God and B Daddy's work ethic) we're living on slightly more than we made together 9 years ago. Again, plus 4 kids and adjusted for 9 years of inflation.
Our home is a major reason this math still works. Y'all, I LOVE our home. The location, the neighbors, the history, the us-ness of it. We love it for all the reasons I've written about before and the not-so-insignificant detail that we can definitely afford it.
While we are still paying the bank each month for the privilege of living here, we have aspirations to be mortgage-less sooner rather than later. Therefore all six of us are squeezed in a 1700 square ft, 3 bedroom/2 bathroom house and we plan to stay that way for the foreseeable future.
Bringing home the first two babies really wasn't a big deal - they each got their own room across the tiny hall form us and life proceeded as usual. When #3 came home things got interesting.
April 2012 - our third kid in three years is scheduled to arrive. I am in full blown panic mode for months. No one I knew had kids who shared rooms. Or multiple children who required naps at the same time. Everyone asked us when we were moving. Making the decision to put a toddler bed and a crib into the same room had me up at night debating the goodness of God. But we did it because we couldn't find a solution we liked better and it was...fine.
Here's how it worked:
Night time: the first weeks we played musical beds with our newborn and 16 month old. There was a crib in the nursery and a crib and a toddler bed in the "toddler room." We would put our 16 month old and our 3 year old down in separate rooms and when it was time for the baby to "go down for the night" (ha!) we would move our 16 month old into the crib in the toddler room and put the baby down alone in the nursery. It was a bit of a pain, but once baby #3 was sleeping through the night most of the time we stopped the musical bed routine and just had the boys (a 3 yr old and the newborn) in one room, and our toddler daughter in the other. There were a few hard nights at the beginning when the baby would wake up and cry and I'd have to race in to scoop him up and nurse him in the living room, but since #3 truly starting to sleep through the night they rarely, if ever, woke each other up in the middle of the night when they were sick or fussing.
Nap time: Our 3 year old transitioned to napping in our master bedroom. We'd have one kid in each bedroom and I just stayed away from the back of the house. Important detail: everyone has sound machines.
December 2013 - we found out we were expecting #4 and bought bunk beds for the boys' room.
July 2014 - New Kid was born and he slept alone in the nursery. The other 3 kiddos slept in the bunk beds and the toddler bed in the "Bunk Room"
2015 and beyond - The New Kid is sleeping through the night, so he and our 5 year old share a room. (This is the nursery I decorated thinking the baby and our 4 year old daughter would share) and my middle munchkins share a room (we've stopped calling it the "Boy Room" at last...now it's just the "Bunk Room.") We did this based on sleep schedules rather than gender - the 5 yr old is tired after a day with no nap and wants to sleep in (til 7:30am) so he and the baby are pretty similar with their nightly sleep needs. The middles still nap and they tend to chit-chat at night in their beds and are up at 7am on the dot.
I think once I let go of the notion that each room was for a particular set of kids and relaxed a little about who slept where, most of the stress went away.
As far as naps go, my 5 year old has mostly given them up (although he is napping in the playroom as I type this) so the bedrooms go to my 3 little nappers each afternoon and he and I work out of different rooms in the main part of the house for our "quiet time" each day.
OK, so that was A LOT of words on beds. All to say - managing lots of kids without lots of bedrooms is doable. It seems like an accepted misconception that more kids means you automatically need a bigger home. It takes some flexibility and these will probably not be the rooms our kids leave for college from, but for now the squish is worth it to stay in this neighborhood and in this home.
Did you share a bedroom growing up? Did you love it or hate it!? How many kids do you have and how many bedrooms is your house? Would you do the musical bed thing like we have?