Jun 8, 2009

When is enough...enough?

Warning - this post is lllloooonnnnggg! Sorry!

Interesting facts to keep in mind while you're reading this: The average size of new homes is about 2400 square feet. (that's about what our finished square footage is - and about all I feel confident I could keep up in cleaning :)
Since 1970 - the average house has grown almost 60% while the average family is 13% smaller.
I grew up with my parents and 2 brothers living in lots of different houses - some on the smaller end and some much larger than today's 'average.' Michael grew up with his parents and 4 other siblings in the same house - around 800 square feet. But that's what they knew - it worked for their whole family from the time the kids were born to when they left after college - and it didn't ever seem 'small' to them. Kids adapt to wherever they live!

Here is the promised post about kids sharing rooms. I was so surprised to see that NO ONE voted that kids should always have their own room. That's what I've always thought and wanted. I see so many positives with kids having their own rooms:
1. They can completely express themselves in their space.
2. They have privacy.
3. Most kids will spend about 18 years at home - and then have to share a room in college, and then get married and always have to share a room. :) So why not have a few growing up years when you get to have your own space before spending the majority of your years (hopefully 60+ years) sharing with someone else.

This view may have something to do with the fact that I always had my own room. (but I was also the only girl - my brothers did have to share in a few places we lived)
Michael always shared a room with his brother and has never seen a problem with kids sharing rooms - he and his brother are uber-close because of it.
Here are some of the up-side points to sharing:
1. Friendship - you have kind of a 'built-in' friend who's always there. You're forced to be close.
2. Cooperation - you have to learn some essential life skills like sharing your space and stuff, cooperating with each other, the art of negotiation to get what you want, etc.
3. Fun - Michael is always telling me about the games he and his brother used to make up and play, the inside jokes they have, etc. They would have missed out on much of this if they didn't share a room.

Will our kids share a room? The short answer - yes - but our views have 'morphed' into each other.

We have 3 bedrooms in our house - 2 large bedrooms upstairs and one on the main level that we use as a guestroom. There is space to put in another bedroom in the basement eventually (but we're not ready for any more projects like that at the moment).


Since we announced we were expecting baby #3 - we have been asked the same question over and over by friends and family...where are you going to put this baby? Are you going to move to a bigger house?

If we plan on having every child in their own room - then we have to move. We would love to have 4 kids (we'll see how it goes with 3 first, though) so should we be looking for a 5 bedroom house? The pickins are slim for 5 bedrooms! So if we moved to a 4 bedroom house - who would share? If we stay where we are - we also have to decide about the rooming situation.

There are many reasons people choose a house - it's very personal. What we like is not what most people like. Here's why we chose our house:
1. Location - Michael's number one stipulation on where we live is that he wants to be able to come home for lunch every day. That seriously limits our available neighborhoods - but you can't beat having a commute less than 3 miles each way. The kids (and I) love to see him every afternoon - it breaks up our day and his. And the time and money he saves commuting every year is HUGE!
2. Character - We love the feel of old houses and the 'quirks' they have. Our house was built in 1939 and definitely has its share of interesting features. Plus, we love it that every house on our street looks different from the others.
3. Yard - We have about 3/4 an acre - which is a big lot right in the city limits of where we live. We have over 40 trees - 5 of which are humongous 100-150 year old oak trees. The kids can run themselves silly and won't be able to hit a baseball past our yard limits for a long time! We love the feeling of looking out the windows in the summer and not even seeing neighbors because of the thickness of the leaves. Plus - with 100% shade cover we hardly ever need air conditioning.


Of course other things factored into our decision to buy this particular house, like its price, all the beautiful, original hardwood floors, etc.

What factors went into your decision to buy YOUR house? I'd love to know how everyone decides which house to buy. What are your 'must-haves' and was there anything you would 'like to have' that you had to give up when you chose your house? Comment and share.

We live with the other stuff. When you commit to buying a house, I think part of what you have to do is deal with the fact that it has some 'less-than-perfect' features too. Our house also has lots of things we have to live with like: being on a busy street, having low ceilings upstairs, a 'closed' floor plan with the kitchen separated from everything else in the house, flowers (and in some places, even grass) won't grow in the shade, etc.

So what does this have to do with kids sharing rooms or not? Well - we started looking for other houses with more bedrooms and we quickly realized that if we got more bedrooms, we had to give up the yard, or the house would have no trees, or it would need even more work and upkeep than our current house, or Michael's commute would be considerably longer. There's a give and take. It all came down to this: What were we willing to give up to allow each child to have their own bedroom? Money? We looked at houses up to $100K more than what we spent on our house - and didn't find anything that met enough of the things on our list. Time? Maybe we could find less of a 'project house' with new construction so we wouldn't constantly be spending time renovating - but again, we couldn't find one that met our desire to have lots of trees and a big yard - plus, the commute time would go up.
Bottom line - we're staying put for now!

I realized while writing this that I don't have any good pictures of the kids' room. The room they're in now is plenty big for them. It currently has the crib in it for Emerald, Elliott's single bed, a chair and ottoman, bookshelf, craft table, toys and basketball hoops, and is even temporarily housing a 2-piece sectional that will be making its way down to the basement once it's finished. Even with all of that stuff there's still room for the kids to play on the floor and for us to pitch baseballs to Elliott.


The plan for now is to let all the kids share a room and eventually create a boys' room and a girls' room upstairs. Whichever we have more of we'll put in what's currently the 'master bedroom' because it has more closets. The rooms are really large - so here's where the compromise comes in. There's enough space in each room to allow all the kids to have their own space to express themselves in, decorate, and have some privacy. Although they'll also have to learn to compromise with each other and can have fun playing together and making memories.

That's the plan for now. We always keep an eye out for a great house and may someday move - but the number of bedrooms is somewhat irrelevant to the decision. We're fine letting them share - and right now, they're having a lot of fun being together.


  1. Loved seeing all the pictures you posted.

  2. Love the pictures- and I liked the post too. I shared with may sister part-way through college (which was by choice when we got to High School). I think it's part of the reason we're so close. You guys do have a nice house, and it doesn't feel cramped at all. I think you're making the right decision. Can't wait to see the basement. I need to come to Des Moines.

  3. I think the huge bedrooms up there make it an easier decision for you! I think its a tougher decision with small bedrooms but if we're in this house for long enough, the two boys will probably share until we can afford to move. Anyway...my absolute must have in a house: White trim!


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