By boating standards we have a large boat. I have come to realize this through the friendly comments of experienced boaters as they stand on the dock with their hands on their hips looking at our boat. Ohhhh the irony. This is our tiny house. It is vastly smaller than what we came from and we feel that everyday.
Living in small spaces isn’t for everyone. It’s a choice we knew we wanted to make. However until we were living it we didn’t know how small it would feel. So far it’s working for us. It’s different though. Moving through the boat is a constant dance. Passing in the hallway isn’t an option. Two people cooking together is a thing of the past. Eating dinner together is a scene like no other in our living room (I’ll save that story for another time, but I’ll leave you with one word: PICNIC)
We are always in the same space together. There really is no retreating to a different part of the house for a quiet minute. That’s what the marina laundry room is for. Conversations include everyone, not by choice. We are always swirling around saying “excuse me” “oh sorry, did I bump you with that?” “can you scoot over a little bit so that I can walk by you?” It’s kind of a beautiful mess though.
Our girls are quite active. They don’t really sit quietly. They are always moving, jumping, twirling, dancing, jumping, jumping, jumping. In our old house the girls had room to ride bikes inside, loads of space to show how fast they could run and we had a huge deck and even bigger yard to release energy. The boat is different and we hadn’t acknowledged the play space issue until last night when a moment of clarity hit me.
Matt was out running an errand after dinner and it was just me and the girls hanging out. Like so many days before, the inevitable jumping started. Jumping off the ladder, jumping off the couch, jumping down the steps. The thing is though, Lyla can land these jumps, Savannah can not. Mind you, we have been talking about no jumping on the boat for weeks now. It makes me nervous and edgy. I’m just waiting for someone to get hurt. I couldn’t stand it anymore. I looked at the girls and quietly said, “If there is anymore jumping I am taking the ladder down and getting rid of the couch.” They stared at me. Maybe because we had already gotten rid of so many things they wondered if I was serious or maybe because I was so calm it made them curious. They stopped jumping and found another activity, rope swinging and tackling each other. REALLY??? We needed a new plan that didn’t involve me having more wine.
As I thought more about the whole exchange I came to realize that it was actually all about Matt and I and what we weren’t doing. It really had nothing to do with them. They are two and four and about as wiggly as they come. I realized that we need to expand our play space if we are going to make this work. We need to go for walks after dinner; we need to go to the park before bed. Living in a house I never would have dreamed of leaving with the girls after 4:00pm. That would have seemed crazy. Not now though. It is so necessary.
Living is a small space is causing me to expand my world. New habits are forming. I started a list last night of places we could walk and things we could do with the girls to expand their world as well. I am also refocusing on quiet activities we can do with them to help foster a connection with our new space. They need an example and guidance for what this new space means, not just a list of what they can’t do.
Raising children is always a constant work in progress. Coupled with our change in lifestyle and we are dancing a new dance in so many ways. It’s testing us in ways I hadn’t even thought of and forcing us to be present. Success of this situation lies solely in the hands of us, as parents. We can’t rely on the space/toys in our home to entertain our children, we must engage in new ways. What parenting moments have caused you to personally reflect?