Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Having a Large Family in a Small House

I believe we are now considered a large family with eight in our house. However, the term large is subjective. So many families we interact with have five or more children that it seems six is not all that large or unusual. I do feel like we have quite a few when we go out all together. It's challenging to find a table at our favorite burger joint these days. We actually have to pull three tables together. I'm often told that I have my hands full when I venture out with the four littles on my own. And you know what? They are right. I do have my hands full! I love almost every minute of it, too.

Our house is just your standard middle class house on your typical lot. I think we have about 1850 square feet. By some standards we live in a mansion. Others wonder how we manage to have six kids in the space that we have.

So, this post is about how we use the space that we have.

We have three bedrooms.

The girls all share the front bedroom. I choose to get two twin beds with one having a trundle instead of bunk beds. I believe that bunk beds would make the room feel smaller. It is a bit of a pain to pull the trundle in and out twice a day, but it only takes a few seconds. It's a little tight once everyone is in bed. No one should be getting up and moving around, so it works.

Toys stay in the closet. We actually have a lock on the closet so the littles can't just help themselves. It makes life a whole lot easier to have only one toy out at a time. Sometimes I forget to lock the closet and regret that later.

The girls have clothes hanging in the closet and in the dresser.

The three boys share the middle room. We have bunk beds for the big boys and slide a mattress in and out for Nathaniel. I felt bad for awhile that Nathaniel's bed was just a mattress on the floor, but you do what you have to do.

Alex has a separate wardrobe in the room. Nathaniel and Micah have space in the closet. Most of the toys are on the shelves in the room. The boys room is pretty much off limits to the littles. We learned early on that Micah and Alex needed to be able to have somewhere to go to play with lego or just have some space from little kids. So far this is working well. All of Nathaniel's toys are in the girls' closet. Eventually he will be allowed to have free access to his room. However, he has yet to show us self-control.

Our bedroom is our sanctuary. It's pretty much off limits to all children. Toys are not allowed in it and there is really no reason for them to ever be in there. I think it is important for parents to have some space to themselves!

The bathroom situation is fairly tight, and I suspect we will have trouble later in years. Our bathroom is available to the kids only if theirs is in use. I'm sure it will be tricky when the girls are all older and wanting to get ready at the same time! For now, we are managing.

We have turned our living room into the school room. I love having a place to do the majority of our school. I love my bookcases and the school table.

 (Yes, this room needs some decorating help! I love the map, but have nothing else on the walls. Advice welcome!)

This leaves our family room as the only place to really hang out. It starts to feel a bit tight in this space after awhile. The littles love to play in this room. The current toy is always pulled out and played with here. They rarely play in their room. I'm ok with this as long as they clean up, which they do a fairly good job of.

Our last bit of space is the kitchen/eating area. The kitchen isn't very big, but I manage just fine. However, it would be really nice if we had more space for a bigger table. We are pretty tight at meal times. Two chairs are brought in every night for dinner. We have thought about getting a rectangular table with benches. That would probably help, but the table would take up a ton of space in the small area. A new table will be in our future.

We really aren't sure what we will do long term. We could turn the garage into another living space, but that takes a bit of cash: not something we want to invest in right now. We could also sink everything we have into a new and bigger home. Obviously, that wouldn't be a wise financial decision. So, we make do. One thing I have learned is to reduce the amount of stuff we have. There are actually empty cabinets in different rooms! The more kids we have the less we can accumulate.

I almost forgot about our car! We are definitely at maximum capacity there. I truly love my car. This blog post tells the story about our Suburban. It would be nice to have a twelve passenger, but this one is paid for!

Mae is in the middle of the back seat. All you can see is her head. :)
 The lesson we are learning is to be content with what we have.


  1. I found your blog when searching for ideas on big families in small houses. We are a family of 8 in a very modest split foyer. I envy your master bath ;-) & keep telling my husband I would move just to have one.

    Our biggest problem is with homeschooling-we have one shelf in the linen closet for all school materials & it isn't even close to ideal.Still working on an affordable solution.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. It is challenging to make it all work. It takes a little creativity and a whole lot of ability to not accumulate! Not accumulating is tough.

  2. I so appreciate this post!! It was one of the most helpful I have read and how a large family actually functions in a small space! Thank you for posting this.

  3. Enjoyed reading this post. My family is in a very similar situation. 6 children, suburban, maybe slightly bigger home but seventh child on the way. We will figure it out one step at a time though.

  4. We have 4 children in an 880 square foot cottage. 2 bedrooms, 1 bath. Hubby and I moved out of our master bedroom and gave it to our 3 boys. We sleep in the 2nd bedroom, which is only 7 feet by 9 feet!! Our bed is pushed up against the wall, but it is kind of nice that hubby has to climb over me to get out of bed. *wink*

    Our daughter sleep (so far) in the 3 seasons enclosed porch. We managed this summer only having to pull her out of there twice when it got too hot. She opted to sleep on the sofa. We'll so how this winter goes. If we can't manage to keep it warm, she'll have to move back in with her brothers. If the porch was bigger, I'd move hubby and I in there, but our bed won't fit and we only have a full size.

    It's tough and easy at the same time. It is what it is. Thankfully, we have a large yard and a useable, though unfinished basement. The dining room doubles as our homeschool room. The kitchen doesn't even have a full sized stove and oven. I call it my easy bake oven. But people make do with a LOT less. Every time we try to look into moving, the door closes. God obviously wants us here in our little home, at least for now.

  5. We're looking to take our family of 8/9 from 2500sqft to 1000sqft. I'm not sure if or when it will happen and I have no idea how it will look. Yet, I'm excited about the opportunity to simplify and seek His will for my family -- ALL FOR HIS GLORY!

  6. See to me that is a large house. We have 6 family members in 1056 sq ft.

  7. Ummmm...your house is huge! Lol! We have 6 in 880 square feet.

    1. Ha! Which is why I said it's all relative.