Our First House

Dear Munchkin and Peanut,

I mentioned a couple days ago that Peanut has fallen out of our bed at times, and Daddy has been edged out by the two of you more times than we can count. You might wonder why we chose the sleeping arrangements we did. Attachment parenting doesn’t necessarily mean everybody sleeping in the same bed; why not give you your own bed(s) in our room? Or why not have the two of you sleep in one room, close to ours, so you would be company for each other?

The fact of the matter is, there simply isn’t space. This house is a split-level design; Daddy and I didn’t see its shortcomings until we’d been living in it for a few months, long before either of you came along. The kitchen, dining room and living room are on the main level, with a laundry closet in the kitchen. The dining set is currently pushed off to one side to make a play area for you; the living room is just big enough for the mini grand piano, the couch, and the dog. His bed takes up most of the remaining floor space. I should also mention the main level is currently something of an obstacle course, with baby gates installed between the kitchen and dining room and between the kitchen and living room/entry way. The couch brings definition to the open floor plan, separating the living room from the dining room. We’ve blocked the remaining passages between those rooms with large storage bins. Originally designed to contain the two of you in whichever space the adults were supervising at the moment, these obstacles now serve only to prevent the dog from running through the dining room, walking all over you or your stuff, or snatching your toys.

Up 5 stair steps (with baby gates at both top and bottom – again useful now only to slow you down) are the master bedroom/bathroom, the nursery (technically Munchkin’s room, though it’s mostly shared space), and a guest bathroom. Down 7 stair steps from the main level (with a baby gate at the top) is another relatively long, narrow room which is probably intended as a family room, and another bedroom. We don’t get much use out of the “family room,” except for storage, because of its location and design. It does house a TV we never watch. And as young as you are, the bedroom on the lower level may as well be in Egypt. There’s no way it could be a bedroom for either of you; I use it as my office.

Munchkin’s toddler bed is in the nursery, along with a chest of drawers for each of you, a bookshelf, and the nice rocking chair. That leaves a relatively small amount of play space on the floor, especially if both kids and an adult are in there together. Add a second adult, and it’s pretty cramped. It would be impossible to put another bed in there, and you are far too young for bunk beds to be safe.

The master bedroom is oddly shaped, more than twice as long as it is wide, and with a small-ish closet running the length of one of the shorter walls. It was built in the 1960’s; I honestly don’t know what they were thinking. A dresser, two chests of drawers and a sectioned laundry hamper line the longer walls. With the (now king-size) bed and night table, there’s just enough space to accommodate opening doors and walking back and forth. Again, no real space to add a child’s bed.

Daddy and I never intended to stay in this house long-term. When we bought it, we viewed it as a “starter” home, expecting to grow out of it in 5-7 years. Well, that was about 5.5 years ago, and we’ve definitely outgrown it. The trouble is that roughly 6 months after the purchase, the real estate market crashed and burned, accompanied by a nationwide economic slump. We bought when the market was at its height, and suddenly our house was worth much less than we’d paid for it. Although both the economy and housing market have improved in the last few years, the house is still worth significantly less than what we owe on the mortgage, making it pretty much impossible for us to move right now.

So we’re making do. My Godparents once told me they raised two kids in a ranch-style house of about 800 square feet — 1,000 square feet less than what we have. That made me confident that we can do it, too. Sure, it means a few sacrifices, but it also means plenty of stories to tell later.

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