Guys & Gals,
There is something that a few people have told me lately and it really gets my goat. Pretty much since baby #3 was just a bun in the oven I’ve often heard, “You need a bigger house.”
I don’t get this statement (and I have to curb the need to say, “You need a smaller mouth” LOL).
Here’s the reality:
I don’t need a bigger house.
Our family of 5 lives in a humble 1300 square feet. When Brian and I bought the house we figured we may have a baby or two and they’d fit just fine considering we had three bedrooms, a yard, and a garage. Built in 1920, our house is pretty typical for the time in was built.
The current average home size in America is 2,679 sq feet. The average household contains 2.54 persons. (I’m not sure where the .54 lives but I think in our case we have 5.54 persons because Miley cat weighs 18 lbs. I digress.) When new build home statistics were calculated in 1973 the average home size was 1660 sq. ft and there were 3.01 persons in the home.
We’ve shrunken our families but increased the size of our abodes.
In the UK the average home is 818 sq feet, Germany is 1,173 and Spain in 1,044. The Yoders are actually living high off of the hog compared to our European friends.
Truthfully, there are days when I want a bigger house. When you walk into our home you are smack dab in our living room. I’d love to have a foyer to drop our shoes and bags so they aren’t greeting you at the door. I’d like to have an office where Brian and I could shut the door and hash out those budget meetings. For goodness sakes, I’d like a toilet on the main floor!
The thing is, we could totally buy a bigger house TOMORROW. We are in the financial shape to do so and could be approved for a larger mortgage (not tooting our horn, just putting it out there). We CHOOSE to stay in our home because we love our neighbors, enjoy a small mortgage payment, and really just aren’t up for selling and moving right now (like I wanna keep a house spotless with three littles around).
Also, I don’t think there is anything wrong with kids sharing a bedroom! Our kids have a few toys in their bedroom but they are typically only in there to sleep. It doesn’t hurt them to share a dresser and a few square feet, someday they may go to college and have to do this and eventually they may get married and be sharing a whole lot more.
Furthermore, I think as Americans (or Canadians or Australians- at 1948 sq feet and 2303 sq feet, respectively), we can throw this around flippantly without really thinking about what we are saying. Are we telling people that their home isn’t good enough (even though we don’t live there)? Are we denying that sometimes people don’t have the financial wherewithal to support a bigger place? Are we implying that a big home is the marker of success and perfection? These are issues I think we have to work through.
Also, as Christians, I’ve heard it approached as if “well if they want to have more kids, adopt, foster, etc, they are going to need a bigger house!!!” Maybe this is just said flippantly, but this is not the Gospel. The Bible says to “take care of the widows and orphans” not “go get yourself strapped into more debt so you can take in your grandmother.” Children (and adults) need an environment that is loving and safe- they don’t need their own closet and bathroom.
We choose to have a smaller home because it allows us to give more, save more, and travel more.
Having a small mortgage (and lower utility bills) allows us to pay cash for cars, take vacations, and give to causes when led. It makes me consider all the stuff I may bring into our home because there may not be a space. I’m working on living a more minimalist lifestyle and I’m thankful that our smaller house forces me to do that!
So next time your bff or your neighbor tells you that now that baby #2 (or 4 or 6) is on the way you’re going to need a bigger house, ya’ll can smile politely (or roll your eyes) and tell them confidently that you’re doing JUST fine where ya are! I’m pretty sure our grandmothers had babies sleeping in dresser drawers. 😉