growing in and out of compact living

We are four people living in less than 500 square feet. When our building was built, in 1945, this still qualified as roomy, almost pretentiously big, for Stockholm. Our apartment is only cramped by modern western standards. However, we are modern western people with two little kids who do not sleep all that well and with the drizzly dark of a Swedish winter looming.

I write about compact living now and again, but that implies some sort of system, and we have no system for getting the most out of our tiny apartment. We don’t have the money for a system, and we like our old furniture too much for a system. So E brilliantly makes disparate pieces fit together – new bookshelves in this corner by the old desk, shelves here, pile of stuff discreetly hidden there.

I notice that with the two kids that we grow into and then out of the space, then back into it again. Sometimes the balcony saves us. Sometimes one child is spreading old bits of dry playdough in every corner. Sometimes the baby has moved on to a new, less messy food. Sometimes we end up with an entire wall plastered with orange scribbles on paper, and we do not have many free walls.

Right now, with the new summer cottage a cold weekend option at best, we have grown out of the apartment. It takes longer to put the piece back together again each time we spread out. NK has too many toys, and just got a bike, which we keep inside our one closet behind one of our two strollers. The baby is scooting around on his tummy, which means less frustrated crying but more grabbing for electrical cords and the like.

But after two years, we know that the walls do not close in permanently. We might have to haul more stuff up to our packed storage unit in the attic. We might have to paint or hang more shelves or give away extra toys (secretly). But mostly we just have to wait, for soon we will not need an extra mattress propped up against the wall, the exersaucer will be outgrown, and, if we wait long enough, spring will come again, and we can escape to the country, leaving our cramped city behind.

Oh, we are spoiled …

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