Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Family Learns to Love Discomfort

There are few critiques more oft heard about tiny house living than “you can’t do that with kids.” The logic goes that kids have lots of stuff. They need play spaces and room for their soccer balls and American Girl dolls. Most of all, parents need a reprieve from their kids–a virtual impossibility in most sub-350 sq ft spaces.

None of this is “true” however. Around the world, families–parents, kids, even a grandparent or two–share small spaces. We’re not referring to impoverished nations. Highly developed countries like England, Japan and Singapore have significantly smaller homes than the US, Canada and Australia (who have more or less the world’s portliest homes).

Even here in the US, people are challenging the notion that families cannot happily live in a tiny space. For (an extreme) example, Andrew and Crystal Odom share a sub 300 sq ft tiny house with their two year old daughter. In the above interview, Andrew suggests that the things most people object to about sharing small spaces with a family–no room for stuff or private space–are reasons why you should do it. He argues that in larger homes people can avoid one another and even themselves. Not so in the tiny house. You’re constantly confronted by others. Sometimes it’s really uncomfortable. Without a place to duck out, you’re forced to grow, deal and find your comfort anyway.

We appreciate Odom’s candor. He doesn’t sugarcoat the fact that there are definitely challenges in sharing such a small space. And we detect just a hint of longing in his voice for a bit of privacy. But he also seems earnest about his belief that the discomfor is making him a better person.

Of course just because it can be done doesn’t mean it should (especially when the two year old gets too big for her little bed). And there are other ways of dealing with your family and self than being crammed up against them. After all, Singapore boasts the world’s most unhappy people. Small space living induce self-actualization.

What do you think about Odom’s statements? Can the discomfort of sharing a small space be a catalyst for interpersonal and personal growth? Should we be moving toward rather than away from discomfort? Or are these the rationalizations of a dude who really likes not paying a mortgage?

  • Christopher Tilley

    i think that the article and video make some great points. Culturally, we have moved away from communal living to individual living, even within the same physical space.

    Growing up, we only had 1 TV and so we watched programs as a family. With all of the negotiations, temper tantrums and the like about who got to chose the program we watched.

    Now with the relatively low price of TVs, computers, tablets, etc it’s easy for everyone to do what they want and so families are growing up without knowing who each other is and how to better get along with people.

  • Samala

    Not to be crass, but families that live in such small spaces really (really!) make me wonder how the parents manage to continue to have a fulfilling physical relationship when there are no bedroom walls or real separation. Granted babies and toddlers might be able to sleep through a lot, but it still amazes me. And more: how do families avoid the children sleeping in the marriage bed on a regular basis? I know some young families that have a terrible time keeping their little ones in their own beds even when there are actual doors to separate the spaces. I realize that for most of human history shared space has meant sharing your sex life with your neighbors, hallmates, roommates, and kids to some extent.. is this just how it works for families in tiny houses? Maybe I’m just a squeamish American.

    • Your question is one that is asked on a regular basis Samala. And no, it isn’t crass. The part that isn’t shown on the video is in the still photos. Those photos were shot the week we moved in. That was just over a year ago. Since then our daughter’s bed has changed positions, a divider closet was taken down, some curtains and partitions have been put in place, etc. I am confused by your use of the term marriage bed. Biblically speaking the marriage bed is a poetic term used for the bed of husband and wife when consummating the terms of matrimony. After that first night though it sort of loses the poeticism and really becomes the sleeping bed. Yes, other activities take place and SHOULD take place. However, each couple is different in probably all ways. There are noise considerations, location considerations, time considerations, etc. Please don’t think that just because someone lives in a tiny house they do nothing more than sit inside, together as a family, without having any time alone. For goodness sake, my BIL and SIL live right next door. It is nothing to find a babysitter. 🙂

      Great question and I admire you asking it.

  • cici

    I too think most housing today it too large but why are we always focused on leaving behind a mc-mansion and going into something the size of a closet…Why not show people who live in a moderate 900 sq ft to 1400 sq ft home? That would give plenty of privacy and space for things people love and need. At least here in the US where the average family is 3 to 4 people.

  • Pingback: Sunday Reads | Polka Dots & Postage()