Living in a Small Space with a Baby

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.

small spaceMy 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 livingsmall space 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:

Babyletto Origami Mini Crib

You’ve probably seen many posts debating the pros and cons of a mini crib and a regularsmall space 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.

Guzzie + Guss Hanging Perch Chair

small spaceThis 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.

Skip Hop Explore and More 3 Stage Activity Center

I waited for a Black Friday sale to buy this and it was worth it. It’s overall footprint is a small spacelot 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.

Keesmall spacep 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?

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Tiny Apartment Trials

In 2011 I bought a condo in Abbotsford. It was tiny, but it was all I needed. I had the option to go to the one bedroom with the patio; but since it was my first home purchase, the 20,000 extra dollars sounded like a lot. Man, how short sighted I was.

tiny apartment
What my evenings used to look like

It didn’t take long to realize, I should have spent the extra money. But it worked for what I needed. I was a single gal, with my dog and cat, working that shift work life. My Friday and Saturday nights (or Tue & Wed in the real world) were often just me and the animals; watching TV or reading, and eating popcorn and drinking water. I was tired from the shifts (hahaha, hahaha, oh so clueless).

tiny apartment
The Pet Condo

I had a zebra-print rug in the living room, the “bedroom” was a dark purple and had an Ikea chandelier over the bed. The bathroom was decorated with pictures of my shoes, and hair, everywhere. There was a pet condo, as I liked to call it, in the livingroom; the cat’s carrier piled on top of the dog’s crate. Where each night I tucked them in, because I was tired of suffocating in my sleep from the weight of these furry beasts.

The apartment was great until I got a boyfriend, who had a mutual hatred of my pets and a slight allergy to the fat cat. It was also too damn hot in there to have anyone over in the summer. Since the closets were rammed to capacity, it was clear we would not be able to live here together. I switched places with his roommate, and adopted the cat out to a friend.

For the next 2 years, the apartment was a flop house for a number of the rugby guys. Sleeping on the couch and the floor, I can only imagine what horrors those walls witnessed. Eventually my sister and her boyfriend moved in. They were accustomed to tiny living after spending a year in Dublin, in what can basically be summed up as a wet closet. They lived there for 2 years, until I had to toss ’em so my pregnant ass could move back in; dog and husband in tow.

While we were living in the condo, we experienced a great number of funny, weird, stressful, and of course happy moments. The stress of bringing a baby home for the first time is well documented. Bringing him home to such a small place was bound to make things harder. In the end, no matter how short-tempered or irritated we were with each other, both of us just blamed the apartment.

Honestly, we barely had any arguments while we were living there because every time something pissed us off, we would stop and think; “this probably wouldn’t bother me if we were living in a bigger place, fucking apartment”. And that would be the end of that. It got to the point where we were both a little worried that there were real issues that needed to be dealt with and we were just blaming the apartment and not dealing with them. In the end, it really was just the apartment, or we’re too lazy to remember what was bothering us.

The hardest part about the apartment was the fact that Tyler was still working shift work. When he was on nights, I’d have to leave the house with Callahan for a few hours in the afternoon, because Callahan would wake up from his nap and go bananas; yelling, smashing, you name it, all while Tyler was trying to sleep.

tiny apartment
what my evenings looked like with a baby

For the longest time, Callahan went to bed around midnight. Which meant Tyler would go to bed for his early shifts and leave me sitting in the dark on the couch, TV turned way down, cluster-feeding (hell on earth) for 2 hours. This was the hardest time for me; I was tired, I wanted to sleep, and I just wanted Callahan to sleep. Not to mention the absolute nightmare that is cluster-feeding. I’d sit there silently crying some (most) nights praying he’d fall asleep and stay asleep for the night. Eventually he became too distracted by the TV or my phone, and I’d be literally sitting in the dark, with my tired thoughts; questioning my instincts, my skills, my decisions. I would sit there hating Tyler and then feeling guilty for it, because I knew he’d rather be at home with the baby than going to work.

Eventually we were able to get Callahan to go to bed at a regular time and that was heaven. In the morning, I’d push our bed to one wall, and roll his crib next to the bed. That way Callahan could nap in the “bedroom” where it was darker. We’d get him to bed and then we’d eat some dinner; in semi darkness, TV down, whispering, usually drinking something alcoholic to celebrate our success. When we wanted to go to bed, we’d get ready as quietly as possible, turn the lights off, move the sound machine to the kitchen, and carefully roll his crib out into the hallway. Then we’d pick it up and carry it to his “bedroom” 3 feet away in the kitchen. A silent fistbump as we got into bed, after successfully not waking him.

tiny apartment
Odd(fluffy)ball neighbours

Apartment living comes with experiencing your oddball neighbours. Once in a while I would be worried we were the oddball neighbours with the dog and baby in the tiny apartment. It wouldn’t take long before someone would reassure me I wasn’t. One day while the fire inspectors were in checking the alarms, our neighbour (who looked like the janitor from Harry Potter) had a sign on his door, “Fire Inspector Cum inside”. Oh boy.

There was another night while we were up late with Callahan; I was standing there, rocking him and looked out the window to see a young Asian couple spray painting their Mustang GT in the parking lot. They were wearing slippers and face masks. What the actual fuck? This car was brand new, and they had masking tape and newspapers all over it. I’m still not sure what it ended up looking like, and question whether they even lived there.

Because there was only one window that opened, we would regularly crash the in-law’s place for dinner; hoping they were making something delicious, like fish, which was a giant NO-NO in our apartment. Our timing was impeccable, arriving right as the table was being set, and Callahan had fallen asleep in the car. Of course this all worked out because my Mother-in-Law cooks as if there are 6 people in the house. Thanks by the way!!

All in all, living small was a good experience, it was difficult, and if you can avoid it I would suggest it, but we learned some valuable things, like:.

  1. We are really good at compartmentalizing our frustration/anger.
  2. Or we’re really good at laying blame elsewhere, hard to say.
  3. We are amazing.
  4. We love our new house.

I realize these aren’t helpful lessons to anyone else, so stay tuned for my next post with tips, tricks, and reviews of baby gear for small living.

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Dog vs Baby: The Eternal Struggle for Your Love

Dog vs Baby
The one and only Rosko

I’ve had my dog for 10 years; Rosko, The Roktopus, Rokko, Roskolini. I’ve taken 2 million pictures of him over that time. I’ve also attempted multiple training methods, all failing miserably. He loves me unconditionally, and I can no longer say I feel the same way.

*Cue angry yelling, I’m a horrible dog-mom insults here*

Go ahead, throw ’em at me.

Many moons ago, people would tell me, “you love your dog now, but just wait until you have a baby”. I would scoff at this and think, how could I ever stop loving this little ball of fluff?!

And then, it happened.

The real baby arrived. Not the furbaby. The real, human, I-made-this-in-my-body-baby. Initially it wasn’t so bad; we were on cloud 9, and Tyler was home for the first 6 weeks, so I had help. I took care of the baby, Tyler took care of me and Rosko (arguably, a more tedious job).

Dog vs Baby
Would NOT go near him.

Rosko did NOT love Callahan. His feelings were instantly apparent. When Rosko greeted us at the door, Callahan screaming in his car seat at Rosko’s level, you could see the butt-puckering moment he knew life had changed. That night was an awful one, with so much crying, and sweating (ok, maybe I was the only one sweating). When we woke up the next day, Rosko looked his 9 years. Up to that point he had always looked like a well maintained Hollywood celebrity. You know the ones that are 60 but look 30? He no longer looked like Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls, and more like a Lindsay Lohan mugshot. It was astounding.

Rosko spent his time trying to be on me, but not touching Callahan. Since I was breastfeeding Callahan basically 24/7 this was impossible and annoying as shit. Suddenly, I no longer loved my dog. It was like a light switch. It didn’t happen the first day, or even the second. But it seemed like overnight; maybe once the fatigue had built up enough and it was decisive.

Get. The. Fuck. Out. Of. My. Way.

Why was he so close to me? Why won’t he stop barking?! Why won’t he stop whining? Why does he need to go outside to pee? Why won’t he just go and sit with Tyler? How can he not figure out the baby is sleeping?!

Dog vs Baby
The first time Rosko voluntarily sat next to Callahan, 1 month.

I wasn’t diagnosed with any form of postpartum depression, but I think I was depressed (related to cabin fever in our tiny condo, winter, being fat, and overwhelmed) and my depression came out as unadulterated rage. I fucking hated that dog. He wasn’t doing anything different than he had in the last 9 years of his life, but I was done. All my frustrations about anything came out and were now about the dog. How can he be this old and this dumb?! How can none of our training ever kicked in?! YOU ARE 9 YEARS OLD WHY HAVEN’T YOU FIGURED IT OUT?! WHY WON’T YOU SHUT UP?! JUST GO LIE DOWN AND SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!

Tyler also received some misplaced anger from me too, (WHY ARE YOU CHEWING SO LOUD!?) but nothing to the extreme rage I felt having to deal with Rosko.

The first incident that made me think Rosko had to leave, was when I was trying to take him for a pee. I had strapped Callahan into the baby carrier on my chest and was yelling at the dog to sit still. Instead he was jumping around like a fucking maniac and whining the most annoying high pitch sound you’ve ever heard. I couldn’t see him over Callahan, and was struggling to bend down to him. So I stepped forward, unclear as to Rosko’s location and kicked him, sending him sliding into the leg of the crib.

*I should say here, it was less of a kick, and more like my foot went under his belly and lifted him in a forwards/upwards/stepping motion. There was nothing kicky about it. I would NEVER kick my dog!

His ribs hit the crib, and he let out a little yelp, but he jumped back up and seemed fine. I took him for his pee and brought him back inside. I headed out of the house for a couple hours and when I got back, Rosko would not leave his bed. When I eventually coaxed him out, he moved tenderly, and yelped when I went to pick him up.

Cue hormonal new mother guilt.

I decided to bring him to Thanksgiving dinner the next day so my sisters could give him some lovin’s. I had a feeling he was fine, and was just milking it. When we arrived and I explained what happened, I was ridiculed, read the riot act, villianized. Then Rosko got a piece of turkey (I never give him human food, but I was feeling pretty guilty) and suddenly he perked up. He RAN to some more dropped food…. of course no one saw this. So my sister took him home with her for a week to give us all a break from one another. When she arrived home, he ran up the stairs like a spring chicken. He had been playing all of us. That furry little asshole.

The second and deciding factor was a few weeks later, when after struggling to get Callahan down for a nap (like several hours struggling) Rosko decided to start barking 20 minutes into the nap and wouldn’t stop, of course, waking Callahan. This day almost broke me.

For the next few months, until things started to settle down (uncontrollable rage), Rosko bounced around between my in-law’s, my sister, and my grandparents. Once the snow melted a bit, we brought Rosko back home and other than a couple days here and there (when you can tell he needs the break from Callahan) he’s been at home with us.

Dog vs Baby
Callahan <3 Rosko. Jury’s still out on if Rosko loves him back

I don’t hate my dog, the rage I felt towards him has lessened to a mild irritation that can flare up when he misbehaves. I watch now, as Callahan torments him and they play fight over that disgusting piggy; and my rage subsides more, I like him again. Only because Callahan LOVES him. He still drives me batshit crazy and I can’t guarantee I’ll be getting another dog once he passes. Which is saying something. I love dogs. I’ve always had a dog. I want Callahan and our future kids to grow up with one. But I think, maybe I’ll wait until after I’m done having tiny little babies and the hormonal roller coaster that comes with it.

Dogs are truly amazing. Rosko took the brunt of my anger and emotions, and still loses his mind when he sees me. I screamed at him until I cried, and he took it. Maybe he’s smarter than we think, and he knew it was yelling at him, or yelling at the baby. I’m going to go with that, because the only other option is that he’s dumb as fuck.

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