You may recall from this post, that I was pregnant when Tyler and I sold his apartment. When we realized we couldn’t find a rental within our budget and were waiting for our new home to finish being built, we decided to move into my apartment that we had been previously renting out.
My apartment was a 525 square foot studio condo with a Juliet balcony. Yes you read that right. We were going to be bringing our baby home to a tiny studio apartment where the 3 of us and the dog, would live for a year.
Thankfully, our new home was finished 2 months early, so we only had to spent 9 months there! Recently our originally projected possession date passed, and we both agreed one of us would have been murdered by the other if we had to have stayed there the whole time.
The layout was decent, which meant that there was a “bedroom” separate from the living room. But it only had 3 walls, no windows, and was obviously, tiny. I created a little space that would be Callahan’s bedroom, about 5×3 sqft right next to the kitchen, and turned the track lighting so that it didn’t spotlight on him. We opted to bring in our big couch, ottoman coffee table (toy storage!) and our king sized bed (which took up most of the bedroom). These things might have taken up a lot of space, but considering how much time is spent on the couch or in bed with a new baby, the comfort factor was worth it.
We brought with us a paired back wardrobe; mine being the easiest to pair back since almost nothing fit anyways and I basically lived in my nursing tank and pjs pants for 6 months. The stroller stayed in the trunk of my car as there was no room for it in the apartment, and all of Tyler’s sports gear stayed in his truck since it stunk.
For our baby shower, we asked for diapers or gift cards instead of baby gear/toys/clothes as we were so limited on space (and had been handed down some excellent quality stuff anyways). We kept all the diapers and wipes in our 3×3 storage locker and brought them up, one pack at a time.
In the end, Callahan hated the baby swing and the baby vibrating/bouncing chair that we borrowed from friends, so that kept the baby gear to a minimum.
Some things we did get to save space were:
You’ve probably seen many posts debating the pros and cons of a mini crib and a regular size crib. This thing has wheels, which allowed us to move him into/out of the bedroom during naps or when we were ready to go to bed. Otherwise he would have been full-timing it in the kitchen/living room when we were trying to eat and watch TV. Callahan still sleeps in it now, and the only trouble we ever had with it was that it only had 2 levels for the mattress. This meant that when he figured out how to stand at 5 months, we had to create our own middle level or risk putting him in at the bottom level and never being able to reach him. I’m hoping Callahan likes the mini crib long enough that we can avoid buying a toddler bed, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
This highchair saved us a ton of room. The only downside is cleaning it. The material doesn’t wipe clean very easily; but you can take it off and toss it in the wash, where it comes out. We were able to attach this to the island, and just tossed a towel underneath him to prevent spilling on his play area and toys. It also comes with a carrying bag so you could theoretically take it to restaurants with you or traveling, I personally think it doesn’t fold up small enough to warrant the effort.
I waited for a Black Friday sale to buy this and it was worth it. It’s overall footprint is a lot smaller than most exersaucers (or “circles of neglect”) and visually it took up a lot less space, and wasn’t blasting your retinas with the full force of the rainbow all the time. Given the fact it was going to be visible at all times, I wanted to make sure it blended in, rather than stood out. Same concept I used for the crib and highchair. Callahan loved this thing, and its now set up as a table and he still plays with it and the toys. But mostly he climbs on it.
There are a few things I would recommend you not do when it comes to living in small spaces with a baby… don’t do it, being the most important piece of advice. But if you don’t have a choice, or you want to save money, people all over the world live in small spaces and make it work.
My first piece of advice would be to make sure the layout is actually functional. Ours was, and we still wanted to kill each other, so imagine what a poorly laid out space would do to your relationship.
Second, become a minimalist. Or at least something very close to it. I regularly went through my closet and Callahan’s, if things didn’t fit they got boxed up in an organized manner and put away (baby stuff) or donated (my stuff). When we were at the store, even the grocery store, if there wasn’t space for it at home, we went without. We completely stopped shopping at Costco while we were there as nothing “Costco-sized” could fit in there.
Third, get ultra organized with your paperwork/bills etc. This is super hard to do on Mom-brain, especially new mom brain, but it must be done. You can not waste space on a junk drawer.
Baby’s don’t need a crap ton of toys. Keep out a few toys for easy access and every few weeks/months swap out the toys with new ones from storage. The best part about a baby’s development (from a minimalist standpoint), is that they will come back to old “baby” toys and start to play with them again in different ways as they learn new skills. So don’t go overboard on the toys!
Same goes for baby clothes… if you have in-suite laundry and only one kid, you can wash everyone’s clothes in one load every other day and be fine. Just because you get food or spit up on their clothes, doesn’t mean they need to be changed. I only changed them for poopocalypses and if there was enough spit up that he smelled like sour milk.
Keep on top of the cleaning. A small spaces gets cluttered and dirty really quickly. It’s not even fair to be honest. But the good news is that its really quick to clean a small space. I could have our place looking like a dumpster fire to a show home in an hour, and barely break a sweat. But we kept our “things” to a minimum and everything had a place.
Our time in this apartment was hard as fuck, but I don’t regret it and I love looking back at the pictures and being proud of us for living in a hard space during the hardest time of your life, the newborn stage. We survived; and even though our families don’t believe it, we have less crap and more meaningful things than before.
I followed 600 sqft and a Baby on instagram and read all her posts when we were preparing for living in the condo. I still follow her, and highly recommend it for thoughtful and tested ideas on living a minimalist life with a family in a small space.
Do you have any tips for living a minimalist lifestyle with a family?