So You Like Tiny Living?

Picture it (it’s the ultimate math problem)… 2 adults, 3 kids ages 17, 10 and 8 and 3 dogs sandwiched into a 40 foot trailer for 3 months, 3 weeks and 20 days and what do you get? CHAOS! 

 Our home away from home...

Our home away from home...

We were building our house and to save money and deal with the logistics of getting out of the house we were renting and into our dream home, we chose to move into our 40-foot toy-hauler for, originally, two months. Anyone who has built a home knows that those timelines need to be multiplied by 2 at least! See I told you this was the ultimate math problem.

So, yes, this was our choice. Last year at this time, we were finishing our pack out to move onto the base RV park while the house was finished. I thought I could prepare for what to expect watching the show “Tiny Living”. I tried to convince myself we were super trendy and this was the thing to do. I quickly learned what I do love and that is a house of my own not on wheels!

I will share a few things I learned during the process in case maybe you’re thinking of embracing this tiny living craze for a few months, or maybe that is your new direction for forever. My hat is off to those of you who can do it!

1. You have more belongings than you ever thought possible.

When moving into less than 400 square feet, every inch counts. Packing a house up into storage that makes access limited is challenging to say the least. The younger kids especially carefully mulled each belonging before putting it into a box and had to find their greatest treasures to take in the trailer. I swear while packing our belongings, our possessions were procreating. Every time I looked in a corner I thought was totally cleaned out, there were new things there. I’m still not convinced it was a continuing coincidence.

2. Even when you think you have what you’ll need, you won’t!

I tried for months before to make lists of what we would need for our trailer living adventure. Packing it all in the trailer was another story. When it came down to it, I was having a small meltdown over the amount of space I had (or didn’t have in reality) for shoes and clothes. I like to have my choices and having to pare that down was an extremely difficult exercise.  Then trying to fit the amount of clothes for three kids in fewer than 100 square feet including their sleeping bunks was a Tetris game I lost. I found that the clear, plastic storage bins were very helpful. Each family member got to have one for clothes we weren’t currently using but would eventually need. We weren’t wearing summer clothes in March but needed them by June, that’s for sure! Then we stored them under the trailer once it was parked. It looked tacky, I’m sure, but it worked.

3. Take the freezer with you!

Sounds like I’m encouraging over packing by saying to bring it all and the kitchen sink. In actuality, leave the kitchen sink, but bring the chest freezer. Our tiny refrigerator and freezer only holds a few days of food for a family of five so the chest freezer was helpful with having some frozen options on hand, instead of having to go shopping every couple of days. It also minimized our eating out although we still did way more than we normally do.

4. Bring outdoor entertainment.

We have many awesome memories from our outdoor activities during our trailer time. We had the kids’ bikes and scooters but some of our best times were our baseball games in the RV parking lot.  That definitely filled many of our evening hours whenever the wind wasn’t whipping through the desert sands. We also were right next to the base driving range, so the kids had a good time driving some balls with the garage sale find clubs. We also had a sweet little memory of birds hatching by the laundry building right by our parking spot. All of these times will be fondly remembered, as long as we aren’t squished back in the trailer for that amount of time again.

5. Expect the best but deal with the worst...

We moved into the trailer after promising the kids we would take a trip to Universal Studios as a reward for their good attitudes. Everyone focused on seeing the good and appreciating our situation. Things weren’t always so rosy. Our seventeen year old flooded the RV while we were across the country in Florida. The air conditioner couldn’t keep up with the record setting temps in June causing some very uncomfortable days that had our ten year old taking cold showers and keeping his clothes in the freezer. The transmission also decided to take a dump in the Yukon while our tiny living time.  

 We were blessed with amazing sunsets every night...

We were blessed with amazing sunsets every night...

We also had a lot of time together though. When you’re living that close, you spend a lot of time together. It was a lonely transition for me after moving into our house and we no longer spent every minute within eyesight of each other. We even added a sixth person to our micro living for three weeks when our oldest came to visit on the way to his first duty station.

All in all, it was a great memory making experience. I wouldn’t trade our almost four months in 400 square feet for anything although I also wouldn’t want to relive it knowing now what I didn’t know then.  It was, however, just another great moment in the big picture of our wonderful lives together.