Tiny Home Living: Why We All Want To and How to Curb the Desire

Tiny Home Living: Why we all want to and how to curb the desire.

Tiny Home Living
Unless you've been under a rock for the last 5 years, you're very familiar with these words. There has been a huge surge in tiny home popularity, even HGTV has taken notice. And I would venture to guess that you've spent time daydreaming, at least once this week, about a simple life on the road. You know how I know? Well, first, because you're reading this post. Second, because I have too! All the time. Literally.

In fact, I finally talked my husband into it and we're going to move into an RV later this year to tour the national parks with our kids. I know! I'm pretty darn excited about shopping for and choosing an RV, remodeling and decorating it to fit our needs, being that close to my kids and my husband, road schooling the girls, and so many other aspects of our trip.

It's a pretty huge decision to move your family into a small space and there are a lot of things to consider, even more so if your kids are tweens or teens. But today I'm more interested in the reasons you feel compelled to make the transition and a few ways you can curb that desire until you can make the change.

Reason #1: Freedom to Roam
A house or apartment ties you down to one place. Sure you can move but every time you do, you have to load all your belongings into a trailer and cart them from place to place, in and out of boxes. With a tiny home, you're able to take your home with you and leave all your belongings where they belong. No packing required to go wherever the wind takes you. Sunny beaches? Snowy mountains? Family on the other side of the country? Just roll out!
Solution: Be a Tourist at Home
Someone somewhere thinks it would be the bee's knees to visit the place where you live. So imagine being that someone. Figure out the things a tourist would do in your region and go do those things as if you've never been there. I can think of at least a dozen amazing waterfalls within an hour's drive of my house which I've never taken the time to visit. This may not curb your wanderlust for long, but it could easily buy you a few months.

Reason #2: Closer Relationships with Family Members
As a mom, you're super busy! Running kids from place to place, constantly planning for and preparing meals, cleaning up after everyone, resolving issues between your kids, and doing all the work and other life stuff you have to do. It's easy to get this romantic idea in our heads that tiny home living will be one long vacation. No one will have things to run off to and we'll sit on the (small) patio and watch the sunrise, sunset, and stars. We think simplicity will grow this incredible bond which seems out of reach right now.

I totally get this reason (I think it all the time), but I'm going to be real with you: It's not a very good one. If your family relationships are strained right now, then magnifying the issues by squeezing everyone into a tiny home is NOT the solution. Living close to each other can bring your family together, but it can also send it flying apart in a thousand different directions.
Solution: Build or Fix Relationships Now
Maybe you're a mom of preschoolers and you feel like you've lost yourself in the grind of motherhood. Maybe you have teens and you can feel them drifting away from you with no way to reel them back in. Perhaps your marriage is strained or your mental health has you seeing things that aren't there or you made mistakes early in your parenting that cost you now. Whatever's going on, you need to address that elephant. Get help or have a family meeting. Take time for introspection, consult a trusted but honest friend about how you as Mom can be better or stronger or let go more. Major changes can heal families, but time and attention do it better.

Reason #3: Lower Financial Strain
Living in a house is expensive. You have the mortgage or rent plus the utilities plus the cost of upkeep if you own. Tiny home living still has expenses but, with a smaller footprint, you can usually expect lower bills. Especially if you downsize from a 2000+ square foot living space.
Solution: Find Ways to Reduce Your Bills
If you can't increase your earnings, think about decreasing your spending. Do you really need cable? Is that second or third car truly necessary? Can you turn down the heat or turn up the AC? There are a ton of ways to decrease your spending, all you need to do is get serious about implementing a few of them.

Another thing to think about is that full-time RVing and tiny home living aren't as cheap as you might expect. I've spent a lot of time considering the cost while planning our next adventure. When we break down our travel budget, we expect to spend about the same as we spend now on a newer 1800 square foot home. Add to that the start-up costs of purchasing an RV or a tiny home, anywhere from $10-100k+, and you might be better off staying put.

Reason #4: Design and Aesthetic
Tiny home living looks so darn cute on Pinterest, am I right!? Those adorable eaves and lofts, the uncluttered surfaces and well-designed layouts, and the picturesque views through the many windows and skylights are enough to make any design-minded mama swoon. And because the tiny home is, well, tiny, it's cheaper to design and furnish to our tastes. A tiny house can be dressed to the nines for the same price as one or two well-designed rooms in a traditional home.
Solution: Invest in Your Current Home One Project at a Time
Start small. Refurbish your dining chairs. Purchase a new piece of art for your main living space. Build your own unique piece of furniture. Invest in beautiful and functional window coverings. But make sure that whatever you invest your time or hard earned money on is something that makes you happy and fits your style.

And don't make the same mistakes I have. Design for the place you live now, even if you only expect to be there for a year or two. You never know when you'll end up spending three or five or ten years there instead. Second, design for the style you want. Don't buy or make pieces you don't truly love so that they fit better with that second-hand living room set you were given. Better to invest in what you want to keep than in what you can make work for right now.
Reason #5: Live Simply/Reduce Stress
A smaller home equates to smaller responsibility. I can't wait to swap my two and a half baths for our RV's single just for the time I'll save cleaning those toilets! Tiny home living also requires you to purge your stuff, meaning you have fewer things to wash and care for and store and put away. Think of all that time you could be saving! I'll be real with you, my knees go weak when I think of how quickly I could clean 300 square feet. For real, Mama!

The flip side, obviously, is that you have less stuff. Only a few kitchen items, a significantly pared down wardrobe, fewer books. There is less to take care of, but also less to enjoy. My books will be the most difficult things to part with, but I know I'm going to have to make some tough decisions.
Solution: Implement Minimalist Strategies Today
Start with one drawer. Clean it out and ditch everything that is broken or unused. My general rule is if I haven't used an item in the last month, get rid of it. If I've used it more than five times in the last month, it stays. Anything that falls between that range is judged individually but, generally, if I can replace it for less than $20, I don't hang on to it. This is especially true when you start clearing out larger areas like closets, sheds, and the garage. Will you really do something cool with that broken chair you've been storing for two years? If the answer is anything less than 'definitely' than, girl, get it out of your house!


What are your reasons for wanting to downsize? What makes you swoon over tiny home living posts and pictures? Let me know in the comments and, as always, may you be blessed today, Mama!

Blessing upon blessing,


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Why I Took My Kids’ Toys Away

Why I took my kids' toys away and how it helped my kids learn to be content, happy, generous people (and saved me an insane amount of nagging and discipline!)
It has been nearly a year since I took my kids' toys away.

No, they won't ever get them all back.

But it's not entirely what you think...

The Beginning

Well over a year ago, I read Ruth's amazing post over on her blog, Living Well, Spending Less, about why and how she took away her kids' toys. I was in awe and, as a mother of two toddlers, totally into the idea. But we had just moved and the girls had a whole room, separate from their bedroom, designated as the playroom. I wanted it to be full of beautiful things and as well organized as those perfect pins I had been collecting for so long.

The problem was that this playroom is open to the rest of the house (meaning there are no doors to close in the mess) and, on top of that, it's the first room you see when you walk into our home. Despite my best efforts, the toys rarely made it back to their labeled boxes and baskets unless I put them there. The girls, at two and three, had very little interest in returning an item to its proper place on the shelf. By the end of most days, I just wanted to bathe them and get their whining selves to bed rather than battle over the cleanup duties. Now, if clean up time could be around 10 am when they're at their happiest, maybe we'd have had a better shot....

Needless to say, this left me feeling stressed out, constantly worried about the prospect of anyone dropping by unannounced, and grumbling about tripping over things. There were days I would simply drag all the roaming toys back to the playroom, make a big pile in the middle of the room, and call it good.

When It Changed

I was growing more and more frustrated by the chaos in our otherwise tranquil home. The toys and the mess and the daily battles to keep it in order were wearing. Me. Down.

And then, my oldest started throwing tantrums.

Oh, these were big ones; screaming at the top of her lungs, dropping her weight so it was almost impossible to carry her to her room for time out, kicking the walls and door once she was safely delivered to baby jail. We tried letting her cry it out, putting her to bed earlier, cutting out refined sugar and artificial food dyes and taking away the tablet. We even resorted to spanking (never angry and always pre-warned). Nothing worked.


Then one night, she threw herself down because she didn't want to wear the pair of pajamas I had laid out for her.


You read that right. She was coming up on her fourth birthday and had all the words she needed to ask me for another pair, but instead, she took one look at the bed and let out a monstrous scream. I couldn't even get her calm enough to talk to her. It was a nightmare.

And I lost it.

I turned away from her, stomped downstairs, grabbed a big garbage bag, and then paused to take a deep breath... Once I was back in my head, I walked calmly upstairs and began to pack all of her stuffed animals and books (the only toys allowed in their shared bedroom) into the garbage bag. I stripped her bed of the Frozen comforter and pillow case and replaced them with plain ones from the linen closet. All of her sister's special things stayed in place because my youngest wasn't the one throwing the fits. My oldest didn't even stop screaming long enough for me to explain what I was doing. I took the bedroom things to my room where they would stay until she earned them back.

Then I went downstairs to the playroom.

My husband put the girls to bed and my oldest cried until she fell asleep that night (which didn't take long). By the time he got downstairs, I had all the empty totes from the garage spread out in the playroom and I was tossing everything into them. In went the dolls, the plastic animals and dinosaurs, the instruments, the play food, the dishes. In went the felt play scenes, blocks, little people sets, dress up clothes, puzzles, books... everything.

It took me two hours. Once each tote filled up, my husband took it out to the garage. The only exceptions were my younger daughter's three favorite things: two dresses and a cape. The playroom shelves were empty, the art table clean for the first time in a long time, the floor uncovered and trip hazard free! My husband and I talked it out and then we came up with a plan.

The Solution

We decided on a reward system. This is how it works: Each morning, my girls start with 5 cards each. My oldest helped me make and decorate the construction paper cards and we hung them on the fridge where we'd all see them. Grace is new every morning, so are my kids' chances to have a good day.

If they throw a fit, or fight with each other, or disobey, or act in an unkind way, or hit/bite/kick, or anything else they know is not an okay behavior, they lose a card. At the end of the day, if they have 2 cards left, they get to choose 2 toys to play with for the next day. If they have all 5 left, they get to choose 5 toys the next day.

We talked about it all together, at 10 am when everyone was happy, and the girls agreed that it was okay. I spent the next two weeks organizing the toys in the garage and we created the toy closet, a utility closet under the stairs, with what toys were left after we donated or sold about a quarter of what they'd had.

The Results

Within one week, my daughter's tantrums disappeared. She spent the first three days using the 1-2 cards she had left to 'buy' back her comforter, pillowcase, and room things. The next three days, she used the 2-4 cards she had left to 'buy' back some stuffed animals and choose a toy or two to play with the next day. On day seven, she finished the day with all 5 cards and all four of us did a happy dance in the kitchen with her. She was even more proud of herself than I was, which is saying something, and we've never looked back.

Within two weeks of removing all the toys, I found myself way less stressed, clean up times were surprisingly easy and battle-less (they have to put their toys away each night or they lose a card and get one less toy the next day), and we were all happier. The most surprising side effect of the whole deal though came in the form of lasting change.

One day while I was cleaning up after breakfast and the girls were in the playroom, I heard them playing bakery. They'd played this game before, but only if they had the right toys, meaning the plastic dishes and proper dress up clothes. We had just picked toys for the day and I knew they hadn't chosen either of those things. Instead, they had a wooden food cutting set and they were pretending the food pieces were the bakery, standing in for everything from the mixing bowls to the baked goods to the spatulas. Later in the day, that same food cutting set became a box of moon rocks, a stencil set, and a collection of special gifts for the queen.

Our consumerist culture tells us we have to have exactly the right tool or utensil to do a job. How else do you think we get inventions like this and this and this? Instead of having one high-quality tool which we use for a multitude of jobs, consumerism tells us we have to have a dozen specialty tools for one specific job each. It's the same with our kids. If you give them a Cinderella themed castle, chances are they are going to want to only reenact the Cinderella storyline with that castle, especially if they have the right dolls and dresses to go along with it. Give them only a few, preferably generic, things to play with and, surprise!, they'll engage their creativity and imagination to use that one toy for a multitude of activities.

I don't know about you, but creativity is a major value which I want to cultivate in my future adults!

Would I Do It Again?

You bet I would!

Taking away their toys made them appreciate what they had, lifted significant stress from my shoulders, and encouraged them to play together nicer and work together to invent new ideas. I'll never go back to a room full of toys!

Blessing upon blessing,



How about you, do you have any similar systems and how does it work for your kids? Anything you would add? Share with us in the comments!

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