Apartment Therapy

 

11865298_10102650780137640_4219532209033293158_o

I recently read an article about a woman in the States who lives in an apartment building with her toddler and found a less than pleasant letter on her door telling her how she was a horrible person for raising a child in a tiny apartment and how she probably should not have reproduced.

This one hit home for me. For most of my daughter’s three year life, we have lived in a two bedroom condo.

And almost on a monthly basis, we have had a discussion on whether we are horrible people for raising our spawn in a luxury-sized chicken coup.

There are reasons why we chose to live in a condo in downtown Ottawa. I live across my workplace. My husband’s work is a ten minute drive. My daughter’s daycare is a five minute walk. Life has been simple, oh so simple.

But then there are the downsides. We constantly play Tetris with our closets and storage areas in order to organize and re-organize items. It is impossible to keep our living room/dining room/guest room/den/home theatre clean and organized. I probably have some tiny part of a toy permanently lodged in the padding of my foot and have stop noticing it because I am constantly stepping on and falling over the spawn’s toys.

When our families visit from out of town, we step on each other’s toes. Literally only, not figuratively. There is only one bathroom so that one of us is perpetually hoping on one foot outside the door as someone else is using it. Space is limited so home décor dreams have to stay on the back burner.

In winter months, when we are cooped up inside, we constantly worry whether our daughter is getting enough sun and exercise. Should we stick her out of the window and air her out for a bit?

3

We don’t have a backyard so she can’t have sandboxes and water tables. My husband yearns for the first love of his life: BBQ-ing.

The three of us spend about 80% of our awake time on the same couch. If that couch could talk, the stories it would tell (mainly of milk spills and Cheetos in its crevices).

But I have absolutely loved our condo life in spite of my doubts about raising a child in a limited space and here are the reasons why:

  • The spawn is almost guaranteed to never grow up with claustrophobia.
  • There is a vibe to downtown living. Hippy restaurants, cozy cafes, trendy clothing stores, gleaming Christmas lights on streets. And where you live, defines who you are. The other day I was making beef stew and asked my husband to grab bread. So he walked down to the little Italian bakery across the corner and brought home warm buns. Imagine that! In summer months, we walk by that little bakery on our way to the splash pad and buy focaccia bread and munch on it happily under the swaying trees while our daughter soaks up water and the sun. We are so spectacularly hip.
  • There is character everywhere you look. Downtowns have history. They have grown organically so the dilapidated, hundred-something old houses have a charm like no other. Suburbia is calculated, designed and devised. It has an antiseptic feel to it. Carefully manicured lawns don’t have the same allure as wines growing with wild abandon on black, wrought-iron gates.
  • There are three parks within walking distance of us. In winter months, we walk on the Rideau Canal holding cups of hot chocolate, and in summer, we paddle boat and feed the duckies.

IMG_5581

IMG_3779

  • Limited space also breathes fulfillment I find. Because I have a small home, I am not trying to fill it with excess. In this world of ours that is always chasing more, it’s a content feeling to have just enough, just right. The bigger the space, the more you feel like every corner needs to be filled and fulfilled.
  • My daughter is learning about opportunity cost. She has to choose what she can take home, the play kitchen or the toy tent. If she doesn’t play enough with a big item, we get rid of it instead of hoarding it.
  • Cleaning and maintenance is a walk in the park. I can go around and vacuum and dust before you can say “Swiffer”.
  • Proximity to our workplaces means we get home early and our daughter spends limited time in daycare. This means we have plenty of time with her before bedtime. It also means that I have the time to cook a fresh meal every day. Even though we are surrounded by restaurants, I prefer cooking at home most days and it has had a serious impact on what we eat and how we eat it. We have cut down on processed food because I actually have the time to make things like pasta sauce from scratch.

All of these advantages aside, we know that the suburban life is in our imminent future as the spawn gets ready for school next year. This is not to say that you can’t do a perfectly reasonable job of raising kids in small apartments but at some point, the need to find the best possible education and more space for your kid has you cruising through suburban neighborhoods, envisioning a different life.  The rhythm of a new routine. Extracurricular activities that allow you to meet other parents, build new connections, create a support group. More house, a deck and a BBQ. Oh the BBQ.

But till then, we are here, in our life that exists within a ten minute radius. And on Valentine’s day, when my daughter brought home cut out heart shapes with her favorite things listed on them, one of them said “I love my house” and I realized, we apartment-dwellers may not be horrible parents after all.

IMG_0054

 

16 thoughts on “Apartment Therapy

  1. This post is so well written, and rings true for so many people! As an editor of the Modestly, I can say firsthand that prioritizing quality of life over quantity of square feet is a goal of more parents than we may realize in this day and age.

    Bravo to you for highlighting the benefits of “small” space living! One person’s closet of a home is another family’s jewelbox!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post. Home really is where the heart is. My wife and I chose not to have children so we did the “small space” thing for years before venturing into a full-blown home/yard/etc. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Depends on your priorities like everything else, including that commute – a huge factor. We now are looking to “head back” to a smaller footprint residence-wise but still want to retain some “space.” Maybe one of those “tiny houses” I’ve seen recently will get the job done!

    Like

    • Thank you! Oh yes certainly…the pros and cons are there as with everything so it depends on what you choose to focus on and what fits your personality. I know we’ll have to do the big backyard and obscene amount of space thing soon but I’ll be counting down to when i live in a chicken coup again!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Omg, what it is with judgey people and their pronouncements!? What possible good could come of some stranger shaming parents like that?

    Ugh. Anyway.

    Our family recently struggled with the urban vs suburban issue too. We’d moved to the suburbs from the city (where my husband and I had apartments before getting married) and were unhappy, trying to move back.

    The way I see it, stuff is closer to you in the city, so your stomping grounds extend beyond your house. You get outside and walk around more, whereas you’re more stuck inside suburban houses, so you need more room.

    Plus, kids are much smaller so everything looks bigger to them anyway. Families used to live in smaller houses and everyone turned out fine.

    We very nearly bought a house in the city but the deal ended up falling through, and we moved last October into a different suburb (closer to the city) with a more laid-back vibe that suited us.

    We’re really happy now and love our house & neighbors, but I still think it’s silly to think the size of your residence is so crucial to your child’s happiness. It’s nice to have space, but that’s not going to make or break anyone’s childhood.

    Like

    • Omg everything you just said! I think people are raising their kids in shacks in other parts of the world so we are blessed to have whatever space and conveniences we have. You definitely spend a lot more time being outdoors when you live in the city because there’s so much to look at and everything is accessible. It’s definitely a different vibe. Good on you guys for searching around and looking for the best fit instead of just falling into a complacent suburban routine!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Right?? People used to live in smaller houses and have less “stuff.” They still do in most places, so I don’t think square footage is a great measure of a kid’s wellbeing. As long as they can get out and play somewhere.

        We had practically vowed to never live in the suburbs again, but we found one better suited to us. I think it has a lot to do with finding your tribe.

        Like

  4. I grew up in the country with cows and corn fields surrounding me, so I’m all for living outside of the city, but for a child who knows nothing other than apartment/condo living, they are raised to think that their lives are just the same as everyone else’s. Plus, once your daughter is grown and moves out, she can decide for herself where/how she wants to live.

    You make condo living sound like a wonderful way of life.

    Like

    • Oh my! cows and cornfields…that sounds exactly like how a child should be raised! I’d love to live out in the country but then we’d be commuting so long everyday and I’d be exhausted and tired. May be one day we can figure out a compromise or find different jobs that allow us to live out the country but till then we have gotten a membership to an Agricultural Museum close by where our daughter goes to feed cows, goats, horses and chickens!

      Liked by 1 person

      • That sounds awesome! When I was younger, my mom’s commute was about a 10 mile/15 minute drive, whereas my dad’s was about a 40 mile/1 hour drive (on a good day). Now, I understand that long commutes are just part of having a job, but currently, I live .7 miles away from where I work. I got extremely lucky with this one. 🙂

        Like

  5. That yellow heart is the sweetest thing I’ve seen since that video of the girl thinking a broken water heater is a robot. There is absolutely nothing wrong with raising kids in a condo and I can’t believe the nerve of that poisonous letter writer thinking they can judge someone for having a baby while they live in an apartment!

    In case you haven’t seen it:

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is soo adorable! Ya i guess anytime you do anything that’s unconventional, you may doubt your decisions, especially when they have to do with a little one’s life. But I am always amazed by the generosity of those who freely share their unsolicited opinions on how others should parent. lol

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s