kids

'I live in a tiny house with my husband and our two children. Here's how we make it work.'

I’m Marnie and I live in a 32 square metre Tiny Haus with my husband Dan, our two daughters Ella and Frankie, and Brian, our Burmese cat. We built our Tiny Haus in our backyard when we longed for a simpler life to focus on what’s important.

I work part-time on Tiny Haus Lifestyle while Dan works full time in the construction industry.

We are thriving in our Tiny Haus, taking care of our girls, each other, the earth, our business ventures and careers.

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Your home might be more extensive or smaller than ours, or perhaps you’re planning to build your very own tiny house. Either way, your home should be your sanctuary – no matter what the size.

Here’s our complete guide on how to thrive in a small space.

Plan.

Before we began the build of our new tiny home, we created a list of the most important things we wanted our home to have. It looked like this:

  • Enjoy family meals
  • Be creative
  • Allow personal space
  • Practice yoga
  • Work from home
  • Have fun and play
  • Relax
  • Entertain

Then we worked these items into our home. If you ensure that your home has the things you want the most, it becomes an enjoyable space. You might not be building from scratch, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t incorporate your most essential items.

What is most important to you? Does your home already include this? If not, it’s time to get creative and incorporate it.

READ: Marnie’s family of four lives in a tiny home that’s smaller than their swimming pool.

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Image: Supplied/Tiny Haus Lifestyle.
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Creativity.

Incorporating two bedrooms into our home, so each family member has their own privacy, was of utmost importance to us.

We came up with a vertical bedroom for our girls. It incorporates everything an ordinary kids’ bedroom has: beds, space to play, a wardrobe, a bookshelf, and toy-storage. And then we stacked it in a pod-like three story system. We incorporated lots of fun; a kids-only door, talking tubes so they can speak on each level, plus space to keep their toys and books.

What initially was a complicated space is now practical, beautiful, and playful.

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Image: Supplied/The Palm Co.
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Here are some tips for getting creative with your space:

  • Minimise items you have stored. Use storage space as something more fun.
  • Utilise once awkward spaces like under the stairs as an office or cubby house.
  • Look up, can you utilise vertical space?
  • Look for free items on your local buy, swap and sell page.

Belongings.

We used to have an item for everything and more. I spent so much of my time tidying, sorting and storing items, there was little time for anything else.

We made the decision to live with less and remove the excess from our lives. We now live with everything we need and nothing we don't. Everything in our home has a place and our home is visually calming.

I remember finding five colanders in my kitchen. Really? Who needs five? I now have one, and I don't miss the others.

Reduce your belongings. Rethink how much you need. Don't allow guilt to keep you hanging on to an item. We tend to feel that we have to keep something due to the money we spent, a gift we received, or an emotional attachment. In reality, sometimes we just don't like these things anymore, we don't use them anymore, and we store them away.

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Image: Supplied/The Palm Co.
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My rule when it comes to my belongings is that it must have a use and be used within the next 90 days, bring me happiness, and have a place in the home.

Ask your children to be involved in the process too. However, realise that they aren't always going to want to let go of their belongings. I work backwards, asking them to pick out their favourite items, and then I put away the others.

There is a great lesson to be learnt here. Show your children they can make a difference by donating their excess belongings to a child in need. Make sure your donations are clean and in good condition.

In our household, every few weeks, fairies come to visit and swap over the children's toys. This creates excitement, minimises boredom and reduces overwhelm. Who needs new toys when you get to relive the thrill of your old toys every couple of months?

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I tell my clients, don't be afraid of white space either. You don't need to fill every wall and corner. Allow pure space to draw your eyes to the beauty in the remaining pieces.

While having a smaller space means less cleaning, having fewer belongings means less tidying and more time to focus on what's important.

Multifunction.

What have I learnt from living in our small home? I cannot be precious about the space.

Our bed transforms into a kids hang-out spot where they read or have screen time, and sometimes they eat popcorn. Naturally, I have to vacuum up the crumbs, but I'm okay with that.

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Our lounge room converts into a cafe, a sheet over the lounge is a hospital for dolls, or cushions can be arranged into an obstacle course. Relish in the creativity and get in there – be a kid too.

We use every space every day, there is no wasted space in our home.

Your dining table isn't just for eating – it’s an office, homework desk or craft table.

I've turned my own work station into a "mobile office in a box", and I take myself and my box to a different location each day. I could be working at our dining table, on the kitchen bench, if it's a beautiful day, you'll find me outside, or sometimes I just want to stay in bed.

Experiences.

Our fondest memories consist of tossing pizza dough in our kitchen, and turning our sofa to watch a storm roll in. Old me had to create spectacular experiences; buying new gear and styling the set-up to perfection.

When the kids didn't feel the enjoyment that I thought they would or the effort I put in went unnoticed, I would be left feeling upset and wondering why I try.

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Image: Supplied/Tiny Haus Lifestyle.

Now I've let go of my perfectionist ways, I realise the best experiences are spontaneous and unplanned. I'm now all about creating adventure from everyday activities.

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Our firepit evenings turn into hours of fun. Collecting wood, building the fire, making food, toasting marshmallows and inventing a special kid-friendly drink to have while mum and dad enjoy an adult drink.

The best experiences aren't extravagant.

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Image: Supplied/Tiny Haus Lifestyle.

Hold Space.

Taking care of children, family, work and home can feel like there is no time left for anything else. We often forget about ourselves and our relationships.

So, what is holding space?

  • It's allowing time to be present
  • It's practising deep listening
  • It's withholding judgement
  • It's consideration
  • It's exploring
  • It's feeling, expressing and maturing

I felt as though if I wasn't everything to everyone, then I wasn't good enough. I was in a constant state of people-pleasing. It took a breakdown (or breakthrough) to reflect and realise that I had to take care of myself.

In our household, how do we hold space for ourselves and for each other?

  • Say no and accept no for an answer
  • Develop boundaries (we teach our children about allowing space)
  • Ask for support
  • Create good habits
  • Don't try to fix or change
  • Switch off our phones and screens
  • Show compassion and love

Think about how you're going to hold space for you:

  • Sleep in without guilt
  • Practice yoga
  • Meditate
  • Read a book
  • Watch a show or movie
  • Exercise
  • Call a friend
  • Complete a job

Now, how are you going to hold space for your partner?

  • Put a movie on for the kids and give yourself time to chat
  • Exercise together
  • Have a late dinner, no kids
  • Set time to have essential discussions, like finances
  • When the kids are in bed, pour a glass of wine and discuss your day
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Image: Supplied/The Palm Co.
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Image: Supplied/The Palm Co.
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Image: Supplied/The Palm Co.
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Evolve.

One thing I've realised is that our needs are continually changing. Nothing stays still, and I need to evolve, as much as our home does.

What worked today might not work tomorrow, and that's OK.

When our baby started putting everything in her mouth, Lego became a death trap. We turned our under-bed storage area into a play area for our eldest daughter. She could continue to play without me going into a panic anytime there was a toy on the floor.

Keep on creating and transforming.

When we get asked, "how long we will stay in our Tiny Haus?" I say "no idea, as long as it works".

This post was originally published on Marnie's blog, Tiny Haus Lifestyle, and republished with full permission.

Marnie is a simple living life coach, she teaches what she is living out every day in her tiny house. She offers face to face coaching to families throughout Sydney and Wollongong and virtual coaching across the globe. Her service is unique in that she works with you and invites you to see the practical side of living simply and what this lifestyle can offer you. Marnie believes living simply is something we can all achieve. It's not a 'one size fits all' concept, although we all have it within ourselves to live with less 'stuff' that distracts us from what makes us truly happy.

You can find out more on FacebookInstagram, or on Marnie's website here.

Feature Image: Supplied/Tiny Haus Lifestyle/The Palm Co.


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