The Windy City’s Unseasonable Weather Brings out Tiny Home Warriors

Visiting Chicago’s Shaumburg Boomer Stadium for the first annual Chicago Tiny Home Show, presented by Titan Tiny Homes was something I’d been looking forward to since my invite months ago. I knew there would be super cool homes on display and speakers I’d want to hear present. I assumed there would be floor plans represented that’s I’d never seen before and really great people to meet.

What I didn’t anticipate was that it would feel like January instead of mid-May.

The crazy thing about the 2018 home show’s response to the freeing rain, arctic temps and sporadic storms rolling through was that the people still came. They came, they toured, they listened, they asked questions, and they just waited out the weather and joked about the cold.

Chicago, You. Are. Warriors.

I was impressed by the thousands who poured into the freshly mowed baseball stadium, still smiling and greeting me warmly with their coffee in hand. The show’s guests were glowing from their excitement from touring home after home with lofts and bump outs, slides and an array of toilet options. They were getting their questions answered and they had done their prep-work.

Presentations were given by Bob Clarizio of Titan Tiny Homes, Luke Thill “The Tiny House Kid”, and myself of The Mama On The Rocks. The guests at the show were able to hear about zoning, coding, land approval, DIY builds, material weights, downsizing and how to do it, and the possibilities of living tiny as a family. The weekend was packed and Saturday was full of energy.

Houses were on display from 18′ to 40′ and even virtual tours from Utopian Village. The monster 40′ tiny home from Texas showed up Friday night to prove that everything really is bigger in Texas! The slide out feature was a must-see and a definite fan favorite from Hill country Tiny Houses.

Everyone ooohhed and ahhhed over Titan’s display models, especially the sliding door entry of The Everest.

My husband came with me to the show for the first time and we barely spoke to each other because the folks stopping by our booth had such incredible questions. We were so impressed by their thorough research and well thought-out planning. People were so friendly and Titan were great hosts.

If you missed this year’s Chicago Tiny Home Show, be sure to check the website for more info on next year because it is a show you won’t want to miss!

How Big Is Too Big To Live Tiny In A How Big Is Too Big To Live Tiny In A Large Body?

Whether you are considering height (or lack thereof), weight, pregnancy, or the growth of children into teenagers, all changes in size should be considered when downsizing your living space. Many people wonder, and I get asked a lot, “How big is too big to live tiny in a large body?”

As a large female who is comfortable in my frame, I am happy to field this perfectly reasonable question.

In our experience with tiny house builders as well as our spending the better part of the last year living tiny, it all comes down to five things:

Bathrooms

No matter the height of the shower, the width of the bathtub, or the placement of the toilet, someone of size needs to consider the available space in a tiny house bathroom. Certain brands of toilets (like the Nature’s Head) sit up higher off of the ground, whereas a homemade composting variety can be build to suit. On the other hand, with low ceilings in most tiny house bathrooms, the shower height will be lower than most traditional home builds and the bathrooms, at their largest, are usually the size of an RV tub. This leaves little room for a relaxing bath for a new mom or for multiple kiddos.

Bedrooms

If you are of a large stature of any variety, the bedroom can be tricky business, but it can be done. Those who are tall should consider than many tinies, unless built into a custom design, won’t host a king sized bed or mattress. This leaves some of high stature with their feet dangling if it isn’t taken into consideration early on. Additionally, if a plus sized couple were to be in a full or queen bed, they may be less comfortable at night so keep that in might to allow more space during your build to walk around the bed or equip the room with a larger mattress.

Ceilings

Standard overall height for road capable THOWs (Tiny House On Wheels) is 13 feet. That is the maximum for being street legal (with up to an 8.5 ft width). This means you have to deduct the height of the roof, insulation, drywall and framework, etc.

Additionally, many tiny homes have one or more loft spaces for bedrooms or living areas. This can lower the overall interior height in some spaces down to under five feet (although, traditionally they stay at 6 ft.). This is an easy solve for taller home buyers/builders with the addition of the adjustable loft. These spaces can be raised and lowered by a variety of means such as pulleys or even removing the loft entirely. Many parents opt for this type of loft so they can enjoy the headroom in an upper bedroom until their lower level kiddos are tall enough to require the height adjustment.

Doorways

This concept follows along the lines of the ceiling heights. While many doorways are standard sized, some are shrunk for the purpose of space so front doors may have less width or a hallway might be more narrow. This includes the addition of galley kitchens or bar eating areas as space savers.

We have found the addition of pocket and/or sliding doors allows the privacy desired without the need to a non-adjusting or smaller sized door or hallway.

Seating

Many tiny homes use a bar style seating, foldable table or counter space, or stools for chairs. This can cause some struggle for short folks as well as those who are taller or weigh more than average. The simple solution is to adjust the height of seating or tables and to keep these in mind when building. We actually removed our original table, after finding it less than comfy and replaced it with a custom-built table that folds from a bar to a dining set with ease. It provides comfort and plenty of space and cost my husband less than $50 to make.

As with anything custom built, you can pretty much do whatever you want with your design. So this is a great way for people of all ages and sizes to experience the freedom tiny living has to offer!

How To Build A Killer Roadschool Room When Space Is Limited: 4 Tips To Make The Most Out Of Your Area

Living tiny with kids is something many argue cannot be done, but here we are–a year in and loving it. We have chosen to Roadschool our kids so we are able to continue traveling and exposing them to different cultures, a variety of customs, and real world learning. I work full time from an office space that has to be organized.

However, what do we do when it is rainy or when lessons involve the unavoidable worksheet or pen and paper classwork? We created a killer Roadschool space inside our rig that can accommodate our individual learner’s needs. So, keep in mind that every student learns differently, but these tips can be applied to creating everything from a preschool area to a high school room, a professional office to a crafting space in your tiny.

Make Large Items Foldable

Desks and shelving can take up a lot of space in a tiny home so making the best use of vertical space is crucial. A wall mounted desk can save on both space as well as create a place for storage. Many of these desks have internal storage for office supplies as well as the work space.

Shelving can also fold down and back up for when they are being used or when they need to be stored to travel.

Organize The Small Things

Whether you choose bins, containers, or totes, small things can get lost in a tiny house so keeping them organized is important. We recommend using a small metal rolling cart and magnetized bins, buckets, and small containers so the inside and outside of each shelf are most efficiently used.

Visibly Separate Space

Use items like rugs and shelving to break up a larger open space into smaller more divided rooms without putting up walls. We use a large rug to separate our office/Roadschool space from the rest of our kids’ room. Open shelving that you can see through are also a great option for dividing space.

Make The Space Creative

Whether you brighten it up with paint, decorate it with decals, or create a photo collage, make the space somewhere you want to be. We use a bright color palate, kid-friendly wall decals and trendy items like a globe and succulents to bring the outdoors in. Always incorporate natural light whenever possible as well in order to make a small space seem larger.

Whenever Possible, Make Space Multi-Functional

So our Roadschool room doubles as my office space just as much as the bar area in our kitchen is used for studying and eating dinner. Whether you use large items like a Murphy bed that doubles as shelving or storage that is also decorative, in a tiny home, real estate is a hot commodity so most designs need to be space-saving and multi-functional.

5 Things to Watch Out For When Buying Used

From cars to houses, making a large purchase comes with big commitment. No matter what two people you ask, you will likely get different responses on the how to’s of making this financial decision.

Buying or building tiny does come with its own caveats that differ from the traditional home buying or building process. While they share some similarities, everything from price to the build itself can vary. So here are five things to watch out for if you plan to buy used and why we recommend building instead.

Trailer

When building a THOW (Tiny House On Wheels) you aren’t just building a trailer to haul wood or even farm animals. You are building a home that will carry for family and that must have the ability to be safely moved from one location to the next.

The quality of the trailer should be taken into consideration every bit as much as the house itself. Buyers should beware of rust, pre-used trailers, the length, the axles, the number of tires, as well as how the home is affixed to the trailer. This shouldn’t be taken lightly and should be thoroughly inspected by a professional.

Appliances

This is maybe the biggest area where THOW builders can cut corners to fit a house into a buyer’s budget. This doesn’t mean they outfit a home unsafely, it just means a buyer may choose to downgrade the brand name or the size of something in order to fit for space or financial restrictions on the build.

For instance, a popular THOW might come standard with an apartment refrigerator and an electric cooktop. An upgrade would be a residential fridge, a propane or electric full-sized stove, or the addition of a dishwasher or washer/dryer. These are easy things to cut out when wedding the list of wants into needs for a budget-friendly build.

Plumbing & Electrical

For these to be installed safely, just as in a traditional house, they must be done correctly and [usually] by a professional. Cutting corners and DIY-ing this step could be disastrous. If you are buying used, you can never be sure of what is behind the walls. While we love to be trusting of our beloved tiny community, there are still dishonest people out there. Please have anything used professionally inspected before buying.

Insulation

Another area of great debate in the tiny house community is how to keep their house warm. Buyers can choose everything from recycled denim to organic wool, spray foam or the traditional pink panther rolls of your average Joe construction supply store. The cost on some of these materials can skyrocket the overall price tag on a new or used tiny. Be sure you are getting what you want and researching the longevity and R-value of your product.

Materials

Consider everything from siding to windows, counter tops to storage. All of these variables will weigh in on the overall hauling rate (weight) of your THOW, the safety when traveling, and the overall durability. If you plan to move a lot with your home, you might consider tempered windows to withstand whatever the highway might throw at them. If you will be in below freezing temps, you need to upgrade to double paned. cedar vs vinyl siding is also a consideration.

Do your research or employ a professional inspector who is familiar with THOWs if you plan on buying used.

So Why Do We Recommend Building New?

Like anything else, you can’t know if you are getting a lemon until you’re stuck with it. You can’t simply return a house because you found things you didn’t like. As any home buyer knows, a month into the purchase, you will still be discovering things you were blind to when you were just excited to make the purchase.

This is a house. For many, this is forever. Building tiny homes can range from $10,000 (DIY, kit build, and basics) to upwards of $140,000 (for top-of-the-line and customized all inclusives). However, if you compare this to just single family, entry level stick-built homes, you are still saving tens of thousands of dollars. So do this the right way so you won’t end up regretting your purchase. Find a reliable builder, and plan for your dream home.

5 Former Must-Haves We Decided To Ditch

It is pretty incredible, as you begin to downsize and purge yourself of non-necessities, what you find you no longer need or haven’t even used. We have uncovered entire boxes we hadn’t unpacked in years. Clearly the items packed inside weren’t important. I feel certain you have an attic or basement stockpile like we did. Most people do.

So here are the five former must-haves we decided to ditch. Some of them may surprise you!

Multiple Seasons/Sizes of Clothing

Full transparency, if left to my own devices, I can be a hoarder. Growing up with limited funds taught me to be thrifty and responsible. This includes couponing for groceries, buying in bulk, and snagging deals on clothes or shoes before my kids can even fit into those sizes.

Now that we live in under 300 square feet, my storage has drastically decreased. This means, aside from our dresser and closet space, we have exact one drawer (I repeat: one.) for the next season’s items. So, when I change over from winter to spring, everything that can still be worn next winter must fit into the drawer.

This mindset has cut down on excessive spending as well as allowed us a true picture of what we actually wear. Lean in close: It’s not that much!

Extras of Everything

It shocks me to say that my son does not, in fact, need over 20 pair of underwear and our dog will not actually drop dead if she runs out of dog treats. Say whhhaaattt!? I know. Stay with me here.

As a former bulk and budget shopper, I might have 9 bags of dog treats or an entire shelf filled with toilet paper just because it was on sale. It pains me to admit that all of those things just took up space that could have been used for something else and never did we find ourselves in a state of dog treat-less panic.

So, my fellow saving-savvy friend, step away from the Chich fil a sauce packets. It’s fine. You have BBQ sauce in a bottle in your fridge. You will make it through this nugget crisis without taking 13 extra packets home with you. Trust me.

Trendy Toys and Gadgets

Maybe it is a good thing we Roadschool because my six year old son will not be another cell phone toting elementary student. Nope. Not happening. Our kids watch Netflix so they don’t see commercials marketing the latest and greatest toy with flashing lights and obnoxious noises because we don’t have room for them anyway!

Each of our kiddos has two fabric bins each for toys. If they don’t fit, they don’t stay. If they get something new, something old is replaced. We go through and purge toys about once every 6-8 weeks and they know this is coming. It has been pretty freeing because we keep a box of their old toys at my folks’ so every visit they take things and trade them out. It’s like a toy library system and it always makes them feel like they are getting to play with ‘new’ things for my favorite price of free-ninety-free!

“Just In Case” Items

For the love of first aid kits, when has there ever been a need for 2 Ace bandages, 3700 bandaids, and 10 double thick gauze pads during one accident? I couldn’t tell you either, but I certainly had that many or more on hand at any given time when we lived in our larger home.

Friends, natural disasters occur but they are rare. So, it is unlikely we will need to make the space for a ‘Go Bag’ or the 30 pieces of fine china most people keep in a specially designated cabinet in case the queen comes over. You don’t need these things so rid yourself of them!

Often Buying In Bulk

As previously stated, I am a natural hoarder. At any given time in our pre-tiny living years, you could’ve basically shopped my pantry or medicine cabinets as if they were an extension of Target.  This had to stop.

Since going tiny, I no longer buy things in multiples unless they are on budget and on my list. If we don’t have plans to use them in the next week (or month, depending on the item), they remain on the shelf.

It hurts my heart sometimes, but it is the right move.

11 Easy Ways to Downsize and Simplify, No Matter What Size Your Home

Downsizing and going tiny isn’t for everyone, but purging your closets and countertops of unwanted and unnecessary stacks of stuff is not only good for your household but great for your soul. Many articles support that clutter encourages anxiety. So, let’s partner together on this organizational journey.

While my planner may be color-coded, sometimes my house isn’t. So, here are some simple ways even the messiest can become a minimalist.

Start Small: One Room at a Time

Right after Christmas, even though we live in a 36 foot camper, I felt like I couldn’t look somewhere that there wasn’t a stack of something about to attack me. I felt like I was about to be on an episode of Hoarders. So, I started with my pantry. No, it didn’t help with the piles of Christmas gifts and the graveyard of wrapping paper, but it was a small area that I could control. Once I finished that, the feeling of accomplishment was motivation to move on to something bigger.

Find Joy: If You Don’t Love It, It Has To Go

This was the mantra in our house before downsizing from over 2000 square feet to less than 300. Some studies suggest holding each item of clothing or trinket from your bookshelf in your had and if it doesn’t bring joy or trigger a positive memory, it has to go. So we are now left with only the things that have deep meaning for us or clothes and shoes that sincerely make us feel good.

Make Piles: Keep, Donate, Give Away, Trash

This gets easier the more you do it, trust me. Once you start throwing things into boxes, you get on a roll and it is so freeing to let things go. It feels great to donate to those who need the clothes you haven’t fit into since high school and then you have space in your closet for things you actually feel comfortable wearing. make sure not to let the boxes sit around cluttering up your space. Take them where they were designated and wash your hands of what you let go.

Make a Schedule: Rotate Which Rooms You Tidy Up

Once you’ve cleaned out and decluttered, make yourself an easy-to-follow schedule that rotates rooms in your house. Beyond your typical doing laundry and cleaning up leftovers, it will keep you from becoming overwhelmed to know that on Mondays you clean the bathrooms and on Wednesdays you straighten the living room, and so on. We also get our kids involved. Our six year old is an expert at taking out the trash and vacuuming and our almost tow year old loves to unload the dirty and clean laundry baskets. It teaches them responsibility and helps them feel like they are contributing to the family chores.

Counters Aren’t For Storage

This the main culprit of cleanliness-related mom anxiety. Why must we have piles of hair ties, a collection of Legos, and a mountain of bills and junk mail covering our counter tops? For the love of organization, throw. It. Out!

A clean counter in your kitchen will provide endless happiness for mom and send all of the unwanted treasures usually found there to their rightful locations. Then, if Suzy can’t wear a ponytail Monday or Johnny’s Lego truck only has three wheels, they will learn to pick up after themselves.

If You Haven’t Worn It/Used It In The Last Year, Say Bye-Bye

As a woman of pretty solid size, this one is hard. But what if i lose weight? Or But what if I gain some back? I like to be prepared.

However, some of us are hanging on to our pre-teen N*SYNC concert t-shirt and, sister, that reunion tour ain’t happening! We need to move on.

So, go through your closet, dresser drawers, show racks, and handbag holders, and throw out or donate everything you haven’t worn in the last year (six months is actually preferable). I promise you will be shocked at how many items this eliminates if we are truly honest with ourselves.

Rid Yourself of Expired Items

I have no explanation as to why many of us shop and hold onto pantry items like we are living through the Great Depression, but honey, this isn’t 1930! Even folks like me who know the struggle of Ramen noodles and paycheck-to-paycheck living can usually afford to replace the ranch dressing they’ve had open in their fridge since New Kids on The Block were actually new.

Many women have makeup that used to line the shelves of our 8th grade Caboodle case and hair accessories we haven’t worn since our headbands were hand-decorated with puffy paint. WHY!? Friends, can we have a collective trash bag frenzy please!?

Buy Quality Over Quantity

Okay, admittedly, this one might hurt a little at first but you have to trust me on this. When you cut your closet contents in half (or, in our case, by 80%), you want to sincerely love the things that remain. This means that when you buy a new item, you not only remove an old one, but you should also be buying things that will last.

I was just able to replace three mediocre sweaters with one from Patagonia that I honestly love and is versatile enough to wear traveling or to the office. The initial cost on these items seems higher, but when you can get 10+ years of wear out of them, your investment was well worth it!

Invest In Things That Have More Than One Use

This is a tiny living mantra. If it only has one use, I don’t need it. We need a coffee pot that doubles as a hot water maker, a can opener that opens bottles of wine and beer, and a table that is also a prep space and desk.

If you look at buying items, especially the larger purchases for your home, as needing to be multi-functional, you will spend less money and have less ‘stuff’.

For Everything There Is A Place 

Whether you live in a tiny house or a mansion, there should be some sort of order. Our kids know that they each have two toy bins. If new toys won’t fit, they have to rid themselves of enough old ones to make room or they have a choice to make.

My husband and I know that our wall-mounted mail holder will only hold so much so eventually we will have to go through it, separate it, and pay bills or respond to mail. In our old, larger home, mail would pile up, collect dust, and remain unopened.

This same rule should apply for kitchen items, pantry food, tools and gardening, and everything else one might keep in or around their home.

Some Things Are More Worth Your Money Than Your Time

This is an important step and one I am continuing to learn from. Whether you are a traveling single or a settled family, a retiree or a divorcee starting over, you have responsibilities. Sometimes our money is worth more than our time.

This means, instead of stressing over the heart-wrenching fact that I honestly cannot keep up with my family’s laundry on top of writing, a full time job, motherhood, wifing, and the everyday of running a household, it is a worthwhile investment to pay a dry cleaner to launder our clothes or a housekeeper to clean the toilets. There is no shame in that sister! It isn’t defeat. It is working smarter, not harder.

Three Things We’ve Learned Since Going Tiny Allowed Us To Pay Off Debt

When we decided to minimize, simplify, and downsize to tiny home living a year ago, financial freedom was one of our driving motivators. Ours is a hard-working family who still lived paycheck to paycheck due to circumstances like medical bills and living in areas of high poverty and low employment (therefore, the living wage was well below the national average).

Since we have sold our traditional house and gone tiny, we have been able to pay off all existing debt, with the exception of one medical bill. We have also been able to build a savings that is allowing us to both travel this summer for the first time since having kids, and to experience the freedom that comes without worrying when the next payday will arrive.

So, here is a list of the top three things we are learning as we’ve downsized to tiny life and paid off debt.

  1. Watching Cash Leave your Hand Is Physically Painful

Since being budget conscious by choice instead of necessity, our perspective has changed. It is pretty amazing what kind of turnaround happens when you pay cash for all things outside of automatic online bill payments.

When I have to physically watch Stacy at the gas station take the $10 bill out of my icy cold grip in exchange for a soda and a bag of Sun Chips, friends, I am seriously reconsidering my snack choices!  Paying cash helps to keep tight control of unnecessary expenditures as well as allows you the freedom to save up money without having it show up in you account to be spent on things like groceries or gas.

 

  1. Beating Your Budget Becomes Addicting

Once you get in the habit of creating a monthly budget (it takes a while, just like any habit), you will be able to track how much money you have coming in and how much you have going out in various categories each month.

Maybe it is because I am competitive, but this has driven myself and my husband to compete in who can save the most/spend the least, as well as trying to spend less each month in certain expense categories, such as couponing for groceries and buying in bulk to save.

 

  1. Mo’ Money Doesn’t Have To Equal More Spending

When you live tiny, you generally keep what you need when you downsize from your traditional house or apartment. This means that, unlike moving into a new traditionally built home, new tiny home owners generally don’t need to go buy a bunch of ‘stuff’.

However, if things come up or something that you want goes on sale, you should have a miscellaneous budget item or cash savings. This should be a built in part of your monthly financial plan.

So, let’s say you decided to save money in your tiny house build by using a handmade composting toilet to start and now you are ready to upgrade to a Nature’s Head Composting Toilet. If you haven’t saved the $975 to buy it, you have to wait. This is great monetary modeling if you have kids, as well!

 

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.

https://titantinyhomes.com/tiny-house-parts/

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!

How We Downsized From 2000 to 200 Square Feet As A Family of Four

Downsizing to live tiny!

Two years ago, while eating ice cream, nursing my newborn daughter, and binge-watching episodes of Tiny House Revolution, I had an epiphany. Tiny living could be the answer to dreams unreached and overwhelming debt.

We spent over a year researching tiny living, minimalism, and downsizing. As it turns out, the simplistic way of life had additional benefits for our son who has multiple behavioral diagnoses. Reducing his stimulation and options for everything has been an incredible help to his sensory-emotional needs.

Over the course of the next year, we began to purge. It took us three large sessions of selling, donating, and trashing items large and small — appliances, furniture, electronics, clothes, and shoes — before we were ready to announce our move. Within four weeks, we quit our jobs; sold our 2,000-square-foot farmhouse with 15 acres, a barn, and a workshop; bought a 36-foot tiny, met a family through Airbnb, and parked on their land three states away. Our family has always lived the “Go big or go home” philosophy well, but this time the “big” and the “home” parts were a little subjective.

Now, two years later, I teach at a second-chance high school in an inner city while my rockstar husband slays being a stay-at-home dad and “road schools” our 6-year-old son. (The term “homeschool” didn’t seem to fit our lifestyle, so we adjusted.) Our one 1/2-year-old daughter climbs everything, rides bikes, and tags along on daily adventures while our son can use his best gifts for hands-on learning.

Brynns children in bed in a tiny homeWhat once overflowed two kids’ bedrooms and a playroom is now confined to a bedroom with bunk beds. Our kids chose what toys were important to them, and they now have two fabric bins each, plus books and dress-up clothes that make up their shelves of “stuff.” They were able to choose what stayed and what went, which proved harder on us than on them.

We each have about 50 pieces of clothing and accessories — yes, that includes shoes (gasp!). Now, what we are left with are quality pieces that we sincerely love!

We took what used to bubble over countertops and cabinets in a kitchen twice the size of our entire home now and pared it down to three pots, two pans, four plates, four glasses, four kids’ cups, four sets of silverware, and a few random kitchen utensils. You haven’t lived until you can wash all of your dishes, clean your entire house — including sanitizing bathrooms, scrubbing the shower, vacuuming, and laundry — all in the span of 45 minutes. It is the glamorous life.

What used to take us an entire weekend to clean, only to be destroyed in seconds by the tiny humans we are raising, now takes under an hour, and we are then free: free to play, to climb, to run, to hike, to do anything we want. I have taken more naps in our hammock in the last two months than in my entire adult life. There just aren’t the excuses anymore of “I can’t. I have to clean up,” or “Count me out. The yard work needs to be done.” We choose what we want to do, and we are able to do what we love. There is unbelievable power, freedom, and joy in this lifestyle.

Even with only one income, we have been able to pay off almost all of our previous debt and build savings. We are currently planning our dream trip out West this summer to see significant monuments and hike in national parks — and all of those hours will count toward roadschool!

Tiny living has permitted us to say yes to what matters to us and to say no to what we just no longer have space for any longer.

“Yes, I would love to meet you for coffee, friend I haven’t seen since college.”

“No, Mom, I won’t actually use grandma’s old knickknacks from pre-colonial times.”

Living tiny had given us the freedom to pursue our dreams and to live our lives with purpose; to be examples of sacrifice, determination, and kindness to our children.

Brynn and child smiling at camera

Tiny living is not for everyone, but it is the best decision we have ever made. I don’t sit in carpool lanes, pickup, and drop-off lines, or take my kids to five different practices a week.

We take our kids to meet residents, to serve their community (even if it changes as we travel), and to recognize the faces of hurting people. Raising kids in our current world where cruelty has become the national economy, we want them to feel safe striving in the face of fear-driven hate. Living tiny takes the focus off of self and stuff and puts the spotlight on service and freedom — liberation from that which we were once held, prisoner.

My kids take survival skills classes, befriend whoever is at the park when they are, and wash tables at a local restaurant that feeds the hungry. It is a messy, dirt-covered lifestyle with minimal room for “things” but plenty of space for what really matters, and we happen to love that. So yeah, I guess we are those people.