Life as a family of five in a 1200 sq. foot apartment townhome can get kind of crowded. One of our three bedrooms is a split baby room and storage room. Really, it’s a storage room with a crib, changing table, and glider. Everything else in there is storage because we lack a garage and shed. Our kids’ bedrooms are less than 100 sq. feet each. With closets and a bunk bed, their room feels cramped to say the least. There isn’t a designated “play room” or area in our house. Our kids have to play in our twin’s bedroom or downstairs in our living/dining area. But, with a large sectional couch, TV stand, large computer desk and chair, dining room table and chairs, the amount of play space is limited.
While we get by fine for the most part, it’s hard not to compare our living situation to those of our friends who own or rent houses. They often have playrooms, bigger bedrooms, lofts, and certainly more toys than we do, and they aren’t living with boxes or storage tubs in their or their child’s bedroom because they have garages and attics to store that stuff in instead. At friend’s houses, the adults and kids aren’t in the same room like at our small apartment, where it’s hard to have an adult conversation over our screaming, playing, needy children.
Don’t Wait for the Invite
I can’t help but hope that these friends invite us over so we can hang out and the kids can play without being so underfoot. However, waiting for people to invite us over to their nicer, bigger, home doesn’t always work out so well. If you are a polite person, you know it’s pretty rude to invite yourself over to someone’s house. But, waiting, twiddling your thumbs, for your friend to call and invite you and your kids over for a play date (which may never happen), can just depress you and make you feel like you don’t have any friends. Seriously. I’ve so been there. And it’s depressing when your kids ask to go to their friend’s house, but you have to say no because, again, you can’t just invite yourself over. Plus, no one always wants to be the one doing the inviting, nor never having the invite be reciprocated.
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One trick around this formality, is to call up your friend and see what they are up to that day and if they wanted to get together for a play-date/hang out. Sometimes your friend will then graciously invite you over to their “bigger house with more toys” (though courteously not say such a thing, of course). But, since you made the call, you better be prepared to have them over to your small apartment, just in case they don’t offer their own home up for the get-together.
Don’t Be Embarrassed By Your Home
I know I should not care about what other people think about my home, its size, its toy count, or even its cleanliness. I know I shouldn’t be embarrassed by our home, because I know most of my friends don’t care and they understand. They’ve been there too. But, it’s hard not to compare our “still just starting out” “still getting degrees” life to their post-school, making real money lives. We want that. But, the reality is that it’s still a few years away as my husband works on a Ph.D. to become a college math professor. It’s like they say, don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle or end. Some things take time.
Rearrange and Get Creative for Gatherings
When we’ve hosted birthday parties for our girls we got creative with the layout of our home in order to accommodate guests. We pushed our dining table all the way against the wall and placed the dining chairs and ottoman along the wall for people to sit. We also did some activities outdoors on our small concrete patio and shared grass area. And it was great. I do want to say, that we do try to limit the amount of people we do invite to parties and dinners and so on because we don’t want people to feel uncomfortable or on top of someone all the time. But, we’ve found that with a little creativity, we can manage guests just fine. For meals, we’ll bring down our daughters small table and chairs for an instant kids’ dinner table.
Embrace Your Small Apartment
My small apartment is my home. I live here. It’s relatively modest, but it’s mine.
I’m not really a private person and I love social gatherings so I don’t want to limit myself because of my perceived non-party, non-gathering, home. I believe in inviting people over to my small apartment, because it is my home.
I always want my home to be a place people want to be, a place that is inviting, welcoming, friendly, and full of great memories, laughter, and love. The number of things we have doesn’t matter. I know this because my kids still manage to play and have fun here every single day.
I also know it is big enough. It really is. We have figured out ways of feeding other families and missionaries here, host parties and book clubs, and invite over friends. Our home is big enough. It is my perceived perspective that wants to limit its capacity limit and niceness.
Do you live in a small apartment? How do you overcome its smallness to invite people over?