Sometimes it feels like living in a tiny space is nothing but sacrifice. It feels like we've sacrificed bedrooms, a playroom, a laundry room (but seriously - what a dream!), a dining room, storage space, a bathtub, belongings... the list goes on and on and yes, it's true, we don't have any of these things and sometimes that feels like a real struggle. I'm sure it's going to feel like even more of a struggle when we're joined by another baby in December as well.
It's easy to compare your life and situation to everyone else's lives and situations. It's so so easy to become jealous of that person's big apartment, their fancy holidays, their beautiful homes/gardens/children/wardrobes. This social media world only makes it easier to look at those perfect squares and say "Why her? Why not me?". It seems like we are programmed for comparison. Earlier this year I was suffering MASSIVELY from the effects of comparing my life with others. My younger brother had just bought a house, all of my friends seemed to have endless cash to spend, other people's careers were taking off all around me and I started to question..."Why them? Why not me?"
Well the simple answer is that I am not them. I am me. Or rather WE are not them. My family, this little unit we have created is unique. It contains three, soon to be four personalities and we are growing and learning with each other. We have had to decide what our priorities are as a family and have had to accept that what we are doing is not sacrifice but compromise.
Living in a small apartment means that we can live in the center of one of the most beautiful cities in the world. We've compromised on space and a garden for our jobs and for the opportunity for our sons to grow up in a vibrant, exciting, diverse place.
Deciding on what your priorities are as a family also comes in very useful when looking at how to use space in a small apartment. Are you a family who love to cook and eat together? Make space for a big enough dining table. Are you people who value organisation and a clutter free space? Invest in great wardrobes or other forms of storage.
I love to cook, so a fully equipped kitchen was important to me (a rarity in Paris, most apartments are rented out with just the kitchen sink in place, nothing else!), space for a dining table was also important, enough space to play for my son (Parisian winters are loooooong!) and good storage options. The rest, I felt, I could make do with. I compromised on the smaller stuff to have what I needed the most in place.
In the end, what I learned from compromising on my tiny living space, I found I could apply to life in general. Our home is not large but it's comfortable and it fits us. My job does not have an amazing career projectile (read, none!) but it's creative and friendly and I love it. My son doesn't and won't go to a bilingual private school, but he's healthy and happy and cool and hilarious. In the end, it seems that mediocracy, an end to the constant striving to be more, have more and do more, has been the answer for us. This article has lots of excellent things to say about leading a "mediocre" life, it's OBVIOUSLY not for everyone - but maybe it could be for you?