Author Topic: 1st time dad in December, tiny house in progress, general advice appreciated.  (Read 5063 times)

uspsfanalan

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For the past few weeks I've been filled with excitement and pure terror that I'll be a dad. My wife went off the pill 4 years ago and at first we expected to get pregnant quickly. After a few years of not getting pregnant and never being late, we deiced that if our genes and bodies weren't compatible, nature knows best. I have no problems with anyone going for IVF or any other procedure, just for my wife and I, it wasn't the right choice for us. We had settled into building a tumbleweed Fencl and approaching retirement as some sort of mix of ERE, MMM, your money or your life etc.

Just so we're all on the same page this is what the model looks like:
http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/products/fencl/

This is an example of a finished version that was produced by a free spirited blogger right after she finished up college.
http://littleyellowdoor.wordpress.com/little-yellow/

So the plan is to have the tiny house water tight in the next 3 months and to eventually finish the interior. I don't expect to move into the tiny house with the baby until he or she is at least a few months old. We'd keep our normal house, which is 1700 square feet and see if the experiment will work. I half expect that the resounding answer will be no. But if we're crazy enough to live in one of these things, maybe we're crazy enough to do it with a child. I know Bakari lives in an RV and a lot of the ERE advocates do but I've not seen examples with children.

I've heard of stories about people being raised on a sail boat, house boat etc. I'm 50/50 on wether we should just sell what we have for a major loss, or if we should get it at least air tight and hopefully sell it for break even. My wife is 100% in favor of finishing the house and intends to live in it full time for a few years. After that we'd reevaluate and go forward from there. So the fundamental question is has anyone raised their children or been raised in a tiny house? If so what would you suggest?

matt_g

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First let me say that I could not see myself living in something that small.  That being said, I have a 6 week old and am a first time dad.  I've also been a quest for minimalism for a year or so.  Consolidating everything, and getting rid of extra crap in my life.    So far, I'd say that having a child has made me question the stuff I've decided to keep.  You just need less crap for yourself when you have a child, because your child now provides 24/7 entertainment.  Read MMM's article on children, that might help a bit.   If you are really serious about living in a tiny house, and your wife is on board.  I say ... go for it.  I don't see how a child would make things harder.   

P.S. We do a lot more laundry, something to consider.

Doubleh

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I say that if this is what you want to do then go for it - the worst that could happen is you end up back in your regular sized house having had an experience.

I've lived the last 5 years on a boat, first on a 38' sailboat and now on a 60' long by 6' wide canal boat. We haven't experienced parenthood onboard yet - wife is due any day - but our attitude has been lets give it a go and if it doesn't work out what have we lost? But we do know plenty of people with young families in boats the size of ours or smaller. And to be honest those pictures look like a pretty useable living space.

brewer12345

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These folks have two kids on a sailboat, so it can be done: http://www.bumfuzzle.com/

BPA

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If you plan to spend a lot of time outside, I think it would be fine, and I think it's a good idea to give it a test drive first.  I would worry about having a baby/small child in one of those Tumbleweed loft beds though.  Where would the baby sleep?

And congratulations!  What a happy surprise!

twinge

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Congratulations!

While we didn't live in a tiny house, we did live in a tiny graduate student housing apt. <400 sq ft. with a baby through 3 years old.  I loved our cozy life and feel we had room to spare. It was reassuring to always feel so close to our son. I don't know if cutting it into less than half would have worked, but our apt wasn't as well-designed for living small either.  But there was a communal playroom that allowed him to ride tricycles, use push toys etc. though we didn't have the space to keep them.  Personally I love small living, but <200 sq ft for 3 would likely be too drastic for me.

Mazzinator

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I have 2 kids. 2.5yrs and 10months. Until they crawl, about 6months ish, they just stay in one place. Once they can run 18months-2yrs, then you need someplace outside they can run. Maybe near a playgroung or park. The biggest downside i see is privacy. I like my kids to sleep intheir own room. So, i'd say try it out for a few yrs and see...

Good luck and congrats!!

bogart

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Congratulations on your growing family!

No experience with tiny houses per se, but when my son was 3 my DH and I bought a ~200sq foot camper (27 feet long, 8 wide) with the thought that we might take a year and see the country before DS started school.  A 2.5 week camping trip the following December -- in SC, so a climate about the same as what you're living in -- convinced me that if we did, I'd strangle our son.  Obviously a lousy idea, so we scrapped the year-long travel idea and have stuck with (and very much enjoy) shorter trips close to home.

My son is high energy, but he's, you know, one of those kids in the top-10 percentile of energy, not one of the ones in the .0001 percentile -- more energetic than average, but not crazily so.  However, at 3 (or 4, or 5), being confined to 200 sq ft of space 2 hours or more before his bedtime after a long and busy day (of vacation!  But there's no other way with a small kid...) was more than I wanted to stand.  And, sure, you can take a 3 year old out, warmly dressed, in the dark when it's 30 degrees and windy out (it was an unseasonably cold winter, our first trip.  We've done about the same camping trip every year since and they've all been much easier because of warmer conditions), but it's not really fun to have to do so (and no fun at all if it's precipitating.  We spent several hours one evening entertaining DS in the campground laundry room because ... well, it was what worked). 

All that said, (a) your child may be lower energy than mine -- my son is my DH's 3rd kid and he (DH) still rolls his eyes at how much more energetic DS is as compared to my stepkids; (b) the first year and perhaps even the second will be easy -- from about 2-8 months of DS life, the only parts of our home that were truly liveable were our bedroom (which he shared with us), laundry room, and 2 bathrooms.  The other 2 bedrooms were cram full of all our living room (etc.) furniture, and the kitchen/living area were being renovated.  Indeed for several months we didn't have a working kitchen (we did have a fridge and microwave out in the "construction zone"), and a grill on the deck plus of course running water in the bathrooms).  And the construction zone really was one, bare subfloors, studs, etc., and it was totally fine because, as noted, infants aren't self-propelled (not having a kitchen was a nuisance, of course, but not a big deal.  Way easier than being in camper with a 3-year old, for example!).   

Long story short, I'm skeptical, but not in a way that says, "Run out and sell it now!"

Doubleh

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Regarding the question of "where will the baby sleep" one option worth looking at would be a baby hammock such as Ambly. This is the model we have got and whilst I can't report on its value yet I've heard good first hand reports from a number of other boat parents.  You can hang it from the  stand (included in the price) or hang it from an eye screwed into a ceiling beam which could work very well in that house.

This one will hold a baby up to 1 year old and we found several good deals on eBay / Craigslist to choose from.

Whatever you decide to do good luck and we would love to hear how it goes

Pixelshot

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Congrats on the new baby! Very exciting. I don't live in a tiny house, but we do have a pretty tiny 1 bedroom apartment with a 3 year old son. We have lived in this apartment since he was born. We are even open to the possibility of having a second and staying in this apartment. For our configuration, we made a makeshift bedroom for my wife and me in the apartment entryway, which happens to be big enough for a queen bed. We use the bedroom for the baby, and would use it for another.

I know it's not the same as a tiny house, but mainly I wanted to say Congrats! :)

uspsfanalan

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First Iíd like to say thanks for all of the responses and congratulations. I feel very encouraged, there seems to be a general consensus that if we complete the house and give it a try, we can always go back to living in the big house if it doesnít work out. Nothing tried, nothing gained.
Iím also encouraged that people have lived in small places and are able to make it work. My wife and I stayed for a few days on a river boat with a couple and two young children and it seemed ideal.

In the meantime weíre learning a lot of great construction skills. Best of all is our increased confidence. At this point when we screw, up its not such a big deal, we just take it apart and start over. We now feel like almost anything that happens in our main house is something that we can handle.

To the other points: I share all of the same concerns. Laundry, privacy and sleeping arrangements are all big challenges. For laundry weíd like to locate in an RV park with an onsite laundry or possibly on some property owned by one of our family members. For privacy we havenít really worked that out. Most likely the baby would sleep downstairs in a crib for a while, not true privacy from the loft but some. Iíve got my fingers crossed that our child is a good sleeper, but I know thatís very unlikely.

The more long term plan is to buy a fixer upper, live in the tiny house for a few years while weíre remodeling and selling the tiny house upon completion. More than likely, weíre just going to have to figure this out as we go. I can make plans but those may go out the window when the baby actually arrives. I will keep you all posted with how it goes.

uspsfanalan

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Regarding the question of "where will the baby sleep" one option worth looking at would be a baby hammock such as Ambly. This is the model we have got and whilst I can't report on its value yet I've heard good first hand reports from a number of other boat parents.  You can hang it from the  stand (included in the price) or hang it from an eye screwed into a ceiling beam which could work very well in that house.

This one will hold a baby up to 1 year old and we found several good deals on eBay / Craigslist to choose from.

Whatever you decide to do good luck and we would love to hear how it goes

http://www.babyhammocks.com/

This could be a great sleeping solution, I forwarded the link to my wife. Thanks.

bogart

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Quote
Iíve got my fingers crossed that our child is a good sleeper, but I know thatís very unlikely.

I think it depends what you mean by "good sleeper."  If by "good sleeper" you mean that your child will have habits and behaviors that will meet his or her needs and be age-appropriate, I think it's likely, though certainly not definite, that he or she will be a good sleeper.  If you mean that he or she will sleep in a way that will be conducive to your and your wife's pre-baby schedule then, no, probably not.

But if there's one thing becoming a mom has taught me, it's not to go making problems out of things that aren't problems for me (a bit like your and your wife's approach to not conceiving when you expected to).  As one small example for unrelated reasons I recently had my kindergarten-aged son at the pediatrician (fortunately all is well, but getting something checked out).  In the conversation it came up that he has recently started (often, not always) climbing into our bed in the middle of the night (though as I commented at the time, I often don't even notice this -- at least not in a way I remember -- until I wake up the next morning and find him there).  Anyway, the pediatrician immediately started brainstorming ways to get him to stay in his bed/room overnight and ... eh.  This doesn't bother us or him; we're in a king-sized bed with one kid, so there's plenty of room, and it's not part of a long standing habit that's been a problem.  So I'm calling it a phase and not worrying about it.  I recommend this approach for all kinds of aspects of parenthood (and life).

Also, and slightly OT, a website I've found quite helpful over the years (as much for the wisdom of the commenters as for the blogger) is askmoxie.org.  It's got organized archives by age and issue, and is searchable, and has lots of good "here's something that's worked for us" parenting information on it.

Use it up, wear it out...

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I highly recommend the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth. Not the best-written book, but the material is priceless.