A Family of Five in a Two-Bedroom Apartment

Many people live in small spaces. Worldwide, most people probably live in spaces much smaller than ours. And yet, some days it feels like too many people in our little two-bedroom apartment. Some days it feels like we are constantly bumping into each other, stepping on items some one forgot to put away, waiting for the bathroom again, and unable to get away from the noise and the needs.

A long winter and cold spring make it harder. The kids go outside some, but they get cold and feel ready to come inside. We spend more time inside and at home than I mean to. It’s hard to get us all out of the house and sometimes I’m just not up for the challenge.

Living in a small space has some great advantages that serve a bigger purpose, though. We use less resources, we remember how others around the globe live, and we have no choice but to live simply. There is not room to have lots of things. And, yet, the things somehow build up with birthdays and Christmas and hand-me-downs and children’s artistic creations. We are in a constant state of going through things and deciding what to keep and what to pass along or throw out. If we slack on this even a little, we find ourselves cranky from the clutter and drowning in things to put away and organize. This happens regularly.

Maybe if we were the types who didn’t mind messes and felt relaxed about household chores, this would all be okay. But, we seem to be a houseful of people whose emotional and psychological state is tied to how neat and orderly the environment is around us.

All that to say, I’m having “one of those days”…one of those days when I feel like the work and the messes will swallow me up and the kids will never stop talking or needing something or making ten new messes while I clean up the current one. Maybe, I’ve been having one of those months, really.

Sometimes I think that a different space, the springtime, some new organization, a few lessons in responsibilities, or a few hours alone will make all the difference. So far, that hasn’t happened. Life with a family of five in a two-bedroom apartment is, perhaps, just this way. But, still, I trust that we’ll find new rhythms and “make it work.” And, in all of it, we are growing in learning to love one another (we cannot escape each other), we are learning to live more simply, and we are dying to ourselves and trusting that God gives us everything that we need.

When I think about it I realize that we are bursting at the seams with life and growth and creativity. And, I pray, that God will remind me of that thought next time I feel like the house is closing in on me. I need that thought and God’s peace to move me from anxiety, agitation, and cranky tones to calm breathing, loving eyes, and nurturing words. With God, all things are possible. With God, this life is much more that it seems…

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5 thoughts on “A Family of Five in a Two-Bedroom Apartment

  1. I remember when I had 3 little ones and a 2 bedroom house and 1 bath. At least I had a break on Saturday when the boy’s would go to Papees and grandma’s house and Lou Ann and I would go to my Mother’s house and spend the day.

    Thankfully we all lived in the same City. Now everybody lives everywhere and nobody is close. I hope that the Lord sees fit for your family to move to Little Rock so part of the family will get to see each more.

    Love you Memaw

  2. Thank you Candace. Your thoughts on living in a small space resonate with me, especially noting the need to constantly assess our belongings, and how difficult it is to stay on top of it all with young ones. I appreciate your wise reminders of what each of us learns and the values that are instilled by sharing a small space. And feel so very thankful that you and I are even able to consciously make the choice to live with our families in a small space. A choice that many people around the world are not privy to.
    I have felt all of the feelings that you captured so eloquently in this post, and from time to time find myself thinking of you and your sweet family, wondering how you manage the day-to-day in a small space when the children are older, with three children rather than our two, in the dead of winter etc. Thank you for your thoughtful words of encouragement. For you reminders of all that’s good about sharing a small space.

    • Thanks for your thoughtful response and encouragement, Natalie. It’s always good to hear from others who are trying to live in similar ways. We have a little wooden sign in our house that sits on a shelf with our plants, it says, “Live simply so that others may simply live.” It’s a great priority, and yet, oddly enough, the sign often ends up on the floor or upside down or fallen behind the radiator (as kids play in this area often). Every time I set it back right, I am reminded that the goal to live simply is a struggle in a society where we have so much. It takes a recommitment to this value over and over again. That said, I think of you often and wonder how you guys are doing. How is life with two little ones. I remember the first year of two children as a very big adjustment. Peace and strength to you…

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