When my husband and I moved into our one bedroom, city apartment, we were not thinking about having children there. It was all the space we needed, just the two of us and our Labrador retriever, but adding another human into the mix was not something we thought about until we saw that second line on the pregnancy test. Ready or not here I come, baby seemed to be saying, and since moving wasn’t an option right away, we set to making room in our little home for our precious new addition.
Let me just say, it has not been easy. Our apartment felt crowded before, just with our own belongings, clothes, computers, kitchen supplies, and music equipment, but we’ve found a few things to help us make it work.
1. Abandon the conventional
We do not have room for a dresser, and our wardrobe has limited space. Finding places for our own underclothes and pajamas, for example, was a challenge to begin with. We started by storing our underclothes in baskets beneath our nightstands, but I found that baskets can be horrible for storing clothes, because it just ends up in a massive tangled pile. I made dividers using cardboard and fabric to organize the contents of our baskets, and the system works well enough for us. Now, baby has her own set of baskets with dividers, too.
2. Utilize vertical space
Shelves, Closet hangers, and wall and door hooks are all excellent options for organizing your small space. That said, if you are living in rented accommodation, sometimes you are limited as to what will work for you in this category. Such things as free-standing shelves or coat hangers may make good use of a corner, while pocket organizers or hanging shoe organizers may maximize storage in a closet or on a door. I use pocket organizers on our wardrobe door to store various small items, like baby’s hats, socks, booties, and bibs.
3. Allocate extra uses for otherwise one purpose spaces
My friend suggested putting our laundry basket in the shower. This won’t work for us, as the laundry bin we have is fabric and would be destroyed if we did that, but if you have a plastic laundry bin, the shower is a great place to store things when not in use. You can also store cookie sheets in the oven (but whatever you do DO NOT store anything that is not oven safe in the oven. I had a roommate do this once without notifying me, and the result was melted plastic and a fire in our oven.
4. Don’t underestimate the space available under the bed
Under the bed is a fantastic location for baskets, rolling storage containers, suit cases, and random items that you do not need to access regularly. Use the hardest-to-get-to places, such as the middle area or under the head of your bed, to store things that you don’t often need, and use the edges for things you use daily. I have a line of baskets beneath the foot of our bed that I can pull out throughout the day to access baby clothes and cloth diapers, and find that it works very well. If you don’t have much space under your bed, consider getting risers to lift it a few inches higher and give you more room to tuck things beneath.
I didn’t know how wonderful it can be to get rid of unnecessary stuff until I moved into such a small space. Finding things I can donate or throw away is like finding buried treasure for me now days. Along with this is avoiding collecting more things than you need (I’m preaching to myself here!). Babies really don’t need as much stuff as the industry would have you believe. If you’re making a baby registry, add only the essentials, and leave out anything that seems gratuitous. You will thank yourself later when there are less things to put away.
6. Rearrange the furniture
Sometimes we take it for granted that whatever layout we currently have is the best one, but moving things around may offer just the opportunity you need to make better use of the space you have. We decided to move our bed into the corner when we brought our baby’s cot into our room, and it’s been a great improvement.
7 Identify spaces that could be put to better use
Got a narrow open area between the toilet and the wall? You may be able to find a shelf to fit. Got a suitcase stored under the bed that’s currently empty? Find something you can put inside of it. Maybe you have some room on top of the fridge or microwave that could be useful. Look around your home and find places that could serve you better in terms of storage, perhaps with the addition of a shelf, basket, or hook.
8 Identify specific places for particular things
Life in a tiny apartment can feel chaotic, and unfortunately, that can get a whole lot worse with the arrival of a baby (envision me frantically digging through a drawer while my newborn is screaming in the background). Sometimes I feel like no matter how hard I try to organize things, everything just ends up in random piles. Combat this problem by naming specific spots for particular items… a basket for hats, a shelf for books, a drawer for baby towels and burp cloths, etc. This is something we are still working on, but I think once we have found a system that works, it will be a great help! That said, it is important to discuss whatever you do with the other members of your household. For some, it may be important to label these areas clearly so that they can remember what goes where. Some may prefer a highly detailed system of organization, whereas others may find that it is best just to have a general area for a certain category of things, and not worry so much about the actual organization of that area itself.
No matter what changes you decide to implement in your home before the arrival of your little one, remember that organization is meant to be a help to you, not a cause for stress or anxiety. If you are struggling to make your space work for you, be patient with yourself, and don’t be afraid to enlist the help of friends or family members. Making such changes is definitely worth it if it means less time frustrated over a chaotic home environment, and more time with your baby. Still, it doesn’t have to happen all at once, and if it doesn’t happen at all, it will be okay! As I mentioned, our space frequently feels chaotic to me even with our organization efforts, but I am trying to remind myself that at the end of the day, life is more than tidy bedrooms or dishes tucked away in cupboards. Sometimes we just need to breath in the sweet times with loved ones and thank the Lord for having a home to live in and be messy with them.
Are there other things you would add to this list? What have you done to make a small space work for you and your family? Let me know! See you next time!