When we announced our pregnancy, the next question was often whether we were thinking about moving. After all, we were in a small, first floor one bedroom flat. It was fair to wonder how on earth we would manage adding a baby into our shoebox London flat: we did too!
I truly believe that you are blessed with what you need for the time that you need it. All that we had was this flat and we could not afford to move anywhere bigger without giving up on the dream and quitting London. Don’t get me wrong, I did entertain that thought but it was just so clear to us both that this is where we were meant to be for now. So, my options were to spend time focusing on how small and already crammed our place was and get frustrated and panicked about it, or I could be thankful for the space that we have and start getting creative as to how we would use it differently and make space for our little one.
1. Clear Out
I started off by having a huge clear out of the whole flat. Starting with clothes, working through kitchen equipment, books, linen, bags, shoes and even toiletries. Anything that we didn’t need and that didn’t justify that space that it occupied, went. It is amazing the difference that that makes. Taking a big bag of things to the charity shop is one of the best feelings. Just knowing that all of that stuff is no longer in my home makes me so happy. Just me?!
2. Buy Smart
One of the things that I worried about was where we were going to fit a big old cot in our small room. They are HUGE. Why are cots pretty much the size of a single bed when babies are so small?
You can easily skip the moses basket stage if you do not want to be storing unnecessary baby items and jump straight to the cot. However, when Belle arrived we fell into cosleeping – we never meant to, it just sort of happened! J is fantastic at DIY and actually converted our cot into a cosleeper and connected it to the side of the bed. We have only just moved it away and put the side back on. It was a great interim measure for the first six months though and saved us needing a moses basket.
After a bit of research we opted for a compact cot. The width is just like a regular cot, but it’s much shorter, which makes sense when you consider the length of the baby. It saves you SO much space.
3. It is all about the Toy Baskets
I have a basket of ‘bedtime’ toys in the bedroom and another basket of ‘playtime’ toys in the lounge and that is it. All of her other toys live in a storage box that I get down and rotate every couple of weeks when she needs something new to look at.
The great thing about limiting the toys to two baskets is that they look neat (not always this neat mind!) when they are put away and so they do not overwhelm our small space. I expect that as she gets older, this will become less possible but for now it is great.
The other plus is that storying toys in these baskets makes clearing away the day’s chaos really quick and easy. I do not enjoy spending the evening tripping over baby toys or crashing on the sofa to land on Sophie the Giraffe.
4. Underbed Storage Trays
Whilst baby clothes are so small, somehow they were taking up more space than all of our clothes put together. I swapped storing B’s clothes in a chest of drawers (where her stuff was occupying four drawers!) to this one tray that lives under the bed.
And yes, I have KonMarie’d the baby clothes! When it’s ordered and folded neatly, it’s more manageable. In a couple of other drawers I keep the clothes that she is yet to grow into and all of her blankets and linen.
With the things that she has grown out of but are still in good condition, I wash, fold & pack away, and label. I have bundles of ‘newborn girl’, ‘newborn neutral’, ‘0-3 girl’, ‘0-3 neutral’ etc (you get the idea). My thinking is that I will thank myself when I am pregnant with number two and don’t have the time to sort through everything. Luckily my Mum and Step-Dad visited last weekend and took a huge box of baby clothes and equipment back with them to store in their loft until we need it all again. Superstars!
5. My Laundry Management Hack
Since having Belle our washing has tripled. How that happens, I am yet to comprehend.
This might just look like a laundry basket to the untrained eye but this my friends is pure genius. This basket is a strategic size in that it will only ever fit two loads worth of washing in it before it overflows. That means that it pretty much screams at me to get a load on before it all gets out of control.
As it has to live in plain sight I made a pretty cushion that sits on top so that we don’t have to see the poo-stained babygrows as we walk past. When I say ‘made a cushion’, I only sewed together some pretty Cath Kidston tea towels that I was given as a gift and felt that they were too nice to be covered in spaghetti sauce! I want to learn to sew properly. I will learn to sew.
6. Keep it simple
As we do not have the luxury of cupboards to shut things away behind I try, where possible, to make the necessary things that I need day to day look nice. Bags of nappies are pretty ugly looking but you need them. So I ditch the packaging and store them in the bathroom in (yes you guess it) yet another basket. Cotton wool in a mason jar and nappy sacks in the basket.
All of her bits and bobs live in a pretty make up bag and the baby bath lives on a hook on the wall to free up floor and bath space.
There you go! Just a few things that I have discovered along the way about how we have made out small space work with a baby (for now!).
Well done to all of those families raising your little ones in less than ideal circumstances. Whilst you might not have the ‘family’ house, garden, dog, car situation going on – you are doing a great job.
Plus, think how much less cleaning us small space Mamas have to do!
Let me know in the comments if you have any tips for small space living with a baby or even toddlers?