Surviving Simplified Living With Kids: 5 Must-Know Tips

5 Must-Know Tips About Living Tiny With Kids

The tiny living movement is growing wildly in popularity. However, it is important to evaluate things before you decide to downsize-especially if you have kids in tow.

We have been living in under 300 square feet for almost a year now and loving every minute of it. Our kids honestly thrive on this lifestyle and haven’t been concerned about downsizing their belongings or their living space.

When considering going tiny with kids, it is possible to not only survive but to sincerely love this life.

Here are our top 5 must-know tips for surviving tiny living with kids:

Brynn and son at the aquarium posing on a shark

Downsize Their Toys And Upgrade To Adventures

When we were going through our purging stages to prep for downsizing, we had our kids lay out one bin of toys at a time. They’d count each of them all lined up in a row and then divide them in half. Half of the toys stayed, and the other half were sold or given away. We repeated this process several times before we were ready for tiny life and now we do so about every 6 six weeks. We researched this method in one of our favorite books, Simplicity Parenting. This simplification was a massive help to our son’s sensory disorder as well.

This process of parting with things was much more difficult for us as parents than for our children. However, this gave them responsibility for what stayed and what went. This was really empowering for them, and it took the ‘bad guy’ role off of our backs.

Now, instead of buying them an abundance of stuff, they now get most gifts in the form of experiences. Last year both kids got a membership to our local zoo, and we have used that more times than I can count. Bonus: This counts toward our son’s Roadschooling hours! We’ve been able to afford to get them monthly subscriptions to educational packages or short trips that we wouldn’t have afforded before downsizing, and they love it so much more!

Get Them OutdoorsYoung male climbing on rocks

This element is a crucial part of our tiny life. We are on the move even when we are parked. Our current spot is on a 20-acre farm that has a many mile bike path right outside our back door. The park is exactly 1.3 miles to the left, and a local skydiving company is 3 miles to the right. Our kids have already seen and experienced so much more of life at 6 and one years old than I did by adulthood.

Some of our favorite ways to pass the time are rock climbing, park hopping, bike riding, and hiking. Our kiddos love to splash and explore in creeks, dig in the dirt, and swim anywhere we’ll let them. I cannot tell you what this type of free play in nature does for kids. They are learning real-world lessons, leave no trace policies, survival skills, problem-solving, collaboration, and natural consequences every single day. It. Is. AWESOME.

The bonus of getting outside together means you don’t even notice the reduced living space inside your tiny house because the outside is so vast. And nothing beats an afternoon nap in your Eno hammock!

Trade In And Trade Up


young child holding a ball outsideOur kids know that when we are in a new place or shopping at Target if they want to ask for something new like kids do, that they have to trade something in. They cannot get something new, just as we don’t, without giving something up.

Whether it is clothes, toys, books, or movies, our kids expect that we will do clean outs every few weeks and give away anything we haven’t used, played with, or worn since the last purge. They have come to enjoy the feeling of bringing joy to others by donating what they have been blessed with. It brings new meaning to the generosity and gives them hands-on experience serving others.

Give Them Their Own SpaceYoung boy next to christmas tree in a tiny home

When living tiny, I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a special place in the house for each person. The kiddos are no different. They need a space that they can decorate and enjoy and run to whenever they need privacy.

In our kids’ room, we chose to remove one set of bunk beds to build a space that includes a homeschool area for our boy with a folding desk and wobble seat as well as a sensory/calming area. This consists of a bean bag chair (Click HERE for 66% off), a climbing wall, a reading nook, and access to calming toys.

Organize Their Must-Haves

a picture of baskets to help organize a tiny homeIf baskets were currency, we’d be rich! Our kids have two fabric bins each to put their toys. That means, if it doesn’t fit, they can’t keep it. All of their Roadschool materials have their own basket (Click HERE for 60% off), and we organize their school supplies in magnetic tins (Click HERE for 50% off a set of 2) and metal buckets that are stored in a rolling utility cart for easy access to taking school outside.

This type of storage makes clean up a breeze and allows us to take toys or school supplies on the go without a second thought.

Organizing the Space In Your Tiny Home

How to efficiently organize your tiny home

Intentionally reducing your living space by 1000% (You read that right) means you have to get creative how you store, organize, and keep the items that made the cut when you purged your belongings. Making the most of your vertical space is the key to making the most out of a tiny living area.

Hanging Baskets

We swear by these because they are so versatile, can be decorative, and they are incredible forms of storage and organization. We have baskets to hang everything from hairdryers and hairbrushes to soaps and feminine products in our master bath. We use them as an alternative to an end table beside our couch to hold our drink, phone, and remote. In the bedrooms, they hold books for our kiddos and our phone, chapstick, and book in our room.

One cool trick we saw on Pinterest was to use the three-tiered wall mounted fruit baskets for everything outside of the kitchen! We have used these for everything from fruit and potatoes to toilet paper and bath towels. It is important, when living tiny, to look at everything as a storage option!

3M Hooks

We should have bought stock in these puppies before downsizing! In an effort to save our limited wall space from damage, we use these to hang literally everything. We use their hooks to hang the hanging baskets, bookbags, coats, and bath towels. We use the velcro picture hangers to hang all of our family portraits, canvases, and artwork. These are amazing and totally worth the small investment.

Shower Caddies Aren’t Just For The Bathroom

Take it back to the idea of a wall mounted fruit basket for storing bath towels, we use shower caddies in the shower for soap and washcloths and also hanging inside of our cabinets to store everything from bottled spices to foil and boxes of sandwich baggies. These over-the-door hanging options are genius! Click HERE for 40% off!

Elevated Storage Drawers

We bought a couple of the inexpensive, plastic three-drawer bins and we built a loft shelf above our children’s Road school area where we use them to store workbooks, school supplies, paper, and more. They are great for organizing and storing things that need to stay out of the reach of kiddos. Click HERE for 50% a set of two of these drawers!

Creative Art Hanging

We hang our kids’ artwork on a piece of painted pallet wood with clothespins on it. This looks like intentional farmhouse wall décor and makes it super easy to change things out as they make new creations. Another option is to hang clipboards and change out artwork in the same manner as the clothespins.

Use Slides And Shelves Like A Mantle

In our 36 ft tiny we have a slide out in the living room area. When it came to decorating for the holidays, I was really missing out on the beautiful fireplace in our former home. To pacify my love of decorating, we use the wooden framing on our slide as a fireplace mantle and still decorate for each holiday season. It brightens our home and keeps things festive for our kids.

If You Love It Then You Need To Throw A Magnet On It

From spices to knives, hair accessories and school supplies, we hang about 40% of the items in our tiny by a magnet. In our kitchen, we use the magnetic metal of our stove hood to mount our spices and our cooking timer. We hung a heavy duty magnetic strip on the wall beside our fridge for our sharp cutting knives. In the bathroom, hair ties and jewelry hang by magnets. And we use magnetic spice tins to hang googly eyes, puff balls, and small school supplies from the outside of our rolling Roadschool utility cart. Click HERE for 60% off the magnetic strips we use that hold everything!

Hang Your Drinkware

Two Christmases ago, as we researched and prepped to go tiny, my husband made me a pallet wood decoration that says “How I Tell Time” and it has two coffee mug hooks with “AM” and two wine glass hooks with “PM.” It is hilarious, accurate, and super practical! When you are living on wheels, you have to be mindful of the storage of glassware. This keeps everything hung up, secure and taking up zero space in cupboards or on countertops.

Throw Your Mail In The Air

For our mail, we use a wooden desk caddy that was meant to set on a desk and hold pens and pencils. Since it durable and has several compartments, we use it for almost all of the things that would normally just get tossed onto a table or counter. This is beautiful for two reasons: 1. It saves on the valuable real estate of our counters. 2. It looks decorative and it light enough to hang with 3D Adhesive Velcro.

6 Things We Wish We’d Known Before Going Tiny

Tips you need to know before you go tiny!

The Ins and Outs of Tiny Plumbing

Many tiny house dwellers, whether in a stick built tiny, a tiny on wheels, or as full-time RV’rs, don’t know much about their toilet and water systems. Living tiny can offer the opportunity of having the traditional flushing toilet and hook up to sewage or city water. However, many tiny enthusiasts choose an option with lesser environmental impact or less work for them in the long-run including incinerator toilets, composting toilets, or draining their water waste into storage tanks that have to be drained and filled back up.

This winter, during your learning curve of having downsized, we experienced frozen pipes and no running water for two weeks in a row and then a few isolated incidents. We had to learn more about our system and add a few upgrades to be ablet o handle the harsh Ohio winters. Learning these things in advance could have prevented us from some pretty uncomfortable circumstances.

To Make It Feel Like Home

I get a lot of joy out of decorating our home. Each house we’ve lived in has had its own quirky touches that I’ve loved. Our tiny, however, was such a rush since we moved several states away to accept a new job, that we never really took the time to do small things like paint or decorate that can really add your own personal spin, turning a house into a home.

It is so important, whether in the design stages of building, or whether you buy used, that you make your tiny your own. Paint is vivid colors or add a signature piece of artwork, put trinkets and meaningful books on shelves and hang up musical instruments. Whatever suits your loves, do it. You won’t regret this one!

To UnPack For The Road

Since we have stayed parked for our first seven months, we unpacked just like we would for a traditional stick built home. However, as we prep to hit the road in June, we are realizing that decision is going to cost us a lot of extra work. We will now have to go back and secure pictures on the walls, be assured that cabinets and drawers are tightened and locked and that everything hanging is road-ready. This would have been a big time saver if we had done it right the first time.

Mail Items To Yourself

As we travel, instead of coming up with places to store bulk or replacement items, it is more economical to ship things to the locations where you’ll be passing through or staying for a short time. This also helps to buy things like paper goods when they are on sale and still be able to get great use out of them without trying to find where to store 47 rolls of Bounty!

Practice Downsizing Your Grocery List

This is still tricky for me. Even with a decently sized pantry and a large under-seat drawer for dry goods, I have a hard time not buying things in bulk when they are on sale because I am a bargain shopper. However, we simply don’t have room for eight cans of black beans just because they were 4/$1.00.

It is important to be mindful of how much your family actually consumes in about a week’s time. This will help you, whether you meal prep or not, to only buy what will be eaten or used, so you actually need more when the next grocery run comes up. The reduced size of our fridge and freezer has left us cooking the frozen chicken ahead of time because there was just no space left to store it.

People Will Not Stop Assuming You’re Crazy

This one is crucial to wrap your head around. Even as a person who has prided herself since a young age of making choices that intentionally go against the grain, this one is tough when the sideways glances and short comments come from people you love and respect. However, it has been important for us to remind each other that we are living our best life and it is okay when that doesn’t align with society’s traditional expectations.

I’ve said it before, and I will continue to say that tiny living isn’t for everyone. However, this has been the absolute best decision my husband, and I have made for our family. It carries a learning curve, but so do any big transitions in life. We are certainly better for this choice and enjoying tiny life is really a dream come true!