Here at MecoBlue Tiny Living, I believe that ‘Tiny Living’ is about more than your physical home. It’s a whole meld of concepts that culminate in a lifestyle that is intentional and kind on the Earth. Learning to live with intention can be a big transition for people! So here are my top tips to get you started!
1. Get a Calendar!
Being intentional with your time means knowing what’s going on so you know when your weeks are just too full and so that you don’t double book yourself! Your choice whether this is a digital calendar, a wall calendar or a notebook/journal. Or maybe you want a combination of them! Whatever you pick start charting out the appointments and the non negotiables for you. Put in the appointments, activities and the family outings. You can even use this as a place to make notes of meals that work with the time you have available on each night. Be willing to tweak this system as you learn what works for you and what doesn’t.
2. Learn to say No.
Ok this is one I’m still working on myself. But – living intentionally means saying no to things that do not fit with your goals, values and your availability (be it time, money or space). Say no to the junky promo pens. Say no to the shift swap that means you miss out on the family outing you had planned. Say no to the BBQ that you don’t want to go to because that group of people make you feel yuck. Say no to following people on social media that make you feel less than. Say no to doing something that your heart and soul are screaming no to because you know its not a good fit. Say no to the food that you know make your insides roll over themselves. Say no to the things that do not fit with your values, passions, goals and resources.
3. Get hydrated!
This seems odd to put on an intentional living list right? But the reality is you will be at your best mentally, physically and emotionally when you are hydrated. The impact of being even a little dehydrated on your body is quit incredible. When you get your water up you will be less likely to reach for junk, you will be calmer, happier and more productive! You will find that everything starts slipping into place and you will make better decisions when you are functioning better!
This list is by no means exhaustive – these are things and habits you can start work on over the weekend to help kickstart your Intentional Living lifestyle. I’d love to see what you set up and hear what impact this made for you!
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Sometimes in life, we have plans and grand ideas of how things are going to go. Having dreams, goals and visions are SO important. Working towards your calling is a huge part of what I am all about!
So why are we moving out of our Tiny House when it is
something we worked so hard for? We
quite literally shed blood (ask Jeremy about drilling his thumb to the house),
sweat and tears over this dream.
To put it simply – we are taking some time out while we work out where we want to go next as a family. See our big end goal had been to have a property and aim for self-sufficiency. However over the last 2 years, we have realized that we aren’t actually sure we want to care for so much land, and if I’m honest I don’t know either of us want to (or can) put down enough other plates to make tending to a property viable.
The long story though is that in October we had an accident when our Landcruiser rolled down the hill and crashed into our Tiny House, crashing through the verandah supports and causing damage to the passenger side stud frame. Thankfully no one was hurt! My mum made room for us in their house while we spent the next 2 months waiting for a decision from the insurance company. Part of the complication was that we had elevated our Tiny up on piers to level it as the site was sloped – and added the deck. And for some silly reason, it had completely slipped our minds to let the insurance company know about these changes. This made the process quite complicated as they made their assessments as they weren’t impressed with the fact it was on piers and considered the deck a modification to the structure.
At the end of the day, they agreed to pay out the damage and allow us to organise repair work ourselves.
There is more to the story though. We had chosen to live in our Tiny House under the radar – that is without going through the process of getting approvals for permanent occupation given that we had a mobile dwelling and no plans to stay permanently. Our accident though prompted movement and it was time to make it all official with Council.
Council were quite happy to work with us actually and set out a plan for what permits to apply for (I’ll write a separate blog on this and layout the options we were given). This is really exciting to know and have had this conversation with them about! We were so keen to be able to take a stand in this movement and work with Council on formal approvals! But as we got further through the inquiries we realized the property had a bunch of extra overlays on it which each required their own permits and paperwork. The most unknown of these overlays was the Bushfire Management Overlay as we found enough information to realize we would likely have to comply with a very high rating and couldn’t be sure how our structure would meet those codes without spending large amounts of money on Planning and Engineering reports.
If we were on our own land 100% would I invest the money into getting approvals and meeting the various codes and requirements. However as our estimation of the process began to grow we realised we needed to take some time to think about what we wanted to do next before jumping in and investing money on approvals while on someone else’s land – especially when our goals are shifting a bit.
So, we decided to take a step back from our Tiny House for a while and rent somewhere for a short time while we take time finish the repairs and get the jobs inside the house that were never fully finished done! We aren’t sure what will be our next step. Perhaps we will relocate our Tiny and spend more time as a family in there. Maybe we will buy land just big enough to take it with us and have it as a BnB. Maybe we will rent it out or sell it! We don’t really know. Right now we are just taking time to re-align with where we want to go as a family and dig into what that looks like in the process of getting there.
We have lived in our Tiny House for 2 years with 2 small
kids and I was not ready to step out yet. I’ve genuinely loved our home and the
pride of knowing we bought it to life. The mess and the noise with kids could
at times be overwhelming – but it never made me regret our decision to live
Tiny. So right now I am grieving a bit to be living out of our home. But I’m
also excited to spend the next months with eyes wide open to possibilities.
Actively digging down into our hopes and dreams. Listening for the inspiration
for what we choose to do next as a family.
We know Living Tiny is not for everyone. We know people live
Tiny for different reasons and for different lengths of time. We know it’s a
lifestyle of less resources, less stuff, less space and more freedom. We know
people live Tiny in villages, parks, on grid, off grid, with permits and
without permits. We know Tiny Houses offer a solution for housing availability,
affordability and accessibility. And we know Tiny Houses do have a future. I’m
really excited to see where we go next.
My message has been since the beginning (almost) that Tiny Living is not just about the Tiny House. It’s about your choice to live intentionally. To minimise, choose sustainability, say no to consumerism and forge your own definition of what you want life to be.
My message stays the same. I will keep talking about the good and the ugly of Tiny Houses in all their forms. I will keep talking about Low Waste Living, minimalism, decluttering, urban gardening and sustainability. I will be talking about Homeschooling and teaching kids about LIFE. I will also be talking more about how Tiny Living looks in a normal house. These last 4 years as we researched, built and then lived in our Tiny House have taught me so much! Now I get to document and share how this whole philosophy of Tiny Living looks in the process of moving towards your visions. I am so glad you are on this journey with me, thanks for being here.
Are you feeling a little like the week has got a bit of a jump start on you and the clutter in your area makes you feel overwhelmed?
Don’t worry! We ALL know that feeling!!
I find a really good step is to do a really quick tidy and remove anything obviously unwanted/unloved.
It’s amazing the difference a clearer space makes to you mentally, emotionally and actually physically too.Set a timer for 15 minutes. Yep – just 15 minutes.
Now pick up
any rubbish into a bag
recycling into a pile/box (including any sales catalogues that have collected in dark corners)
clothes into the laundry or clean clothes pile
stack any dirty dishes
anything into the Op shop box that can add someone else value, now that you are done. This might be clothes that don’t fit, toys the kids have grown beyond, decor that clutters your space, duplicates of an item or things you have been given that won’t serve a purpose for you.
You will be AMAZED how 10-15 minutes can make a huge transformation! You have removed the easy clutter and done something to make yourself feel productive!
I find this is especially important in the Tiny House as small spaces can get overwhelmed quickly. Also, DESPITE being very intentional with what comes into the house it seems with a young family coming and going it’s especially important to do a speed clean of surface clutter often. Our house physically cannot get as wild as a full-size house as we have less stuff and less space – but it’s far more obvious when things are out of place.
I did this today and added to my Op shop pile a few shirts I was given that don’t work for me, some baby toys, a plastic container and a kitchen utensil I’ve not used in 6 months.
All things that don’t bring me joy and don’t fill a need for me – but could still benefit someone else.
Do you make use of small bursts of productivity where you feel the motivation of beating a timer? Its a great strategy for a broad number of applications
Over the last few weeks while we have been housesitting in a ‘normal’ house I’ve been reflecting on the ways that our parenting style has been formed by the dynamics of our Tiny House on Wheels. For the most part its no different.
I’m still a SAHM, I’m still striving for the same parenting goals, I’m still making meals 3 times a day, picking up mess (or helping kids clean up their mess) and using outside as much as possible. Having a family in a Tiny House.
However I realised that living in a THOW has changed some aspects of parenting. The number 1 thing that has stuck out to me as a mum of small kids is the nighttime routine.
I strive to parent gently and respectfully using communication as a vital tool. I am NOT an expert in this and get cross more than I like – its something I’m working on. Reprogramming my own responses and filling my toolbox sith helpful tools so to speak. Bedtime has always been the time that I have needed to pull out those tools more than any other time.
In an ideal situation we communicate about bedtime being soon, give age appropriate tasks and then do story (or ‘How is X made’ video is my 5 year olds current thing with Daddy bear). The line I used to pull out when needed was ‘Hey Lydia/Abi, you seem to be having a hard time getting into bed right now. I’m going to pick you up and put you in bed’. I have to tell you though that is NOT even remotely possible to pick them up and carry them back into bed when you are in a loft bedroom!
We love the crawlway/walkway between the lofts. It provides safe access between the bedrooms for the kids, removes the need for a second set of stairs or a ladder and also added a lot of structural rigidity to our home. However, once again, its impossible to carry a child through that space who doesn’t want to do bedtime. You may laugh at the image of my frustration, its funny in hindsight. However, it has certainly changed the way we parent at bedtime and required building a lot more co-operation in our relationship to reduce everyone getting cross!
It doesn’t always work of course. But the biggest tools we use to encourage co-operation is to keep communication very OPEN and allow miss 5 to make as many decisions so she claims that time for herself. We discuss at dinner time what’s left for the rest of the day (eg ‘Ok once you are done eating you can wash up and play for 15more minutes, then its time to get ready for bed ok’.) I give verbal reminders of how much time is left and then once its bedtime we encourage Lydia to pick which PJs she wants to wear, whether she wants a story with Mummy or 3min video with Daddy, and which doll or teddy she wants to cuddle.
There is another way living in a THOW on Wheels has changed the way we would parent at night time too! Lydia Co-slept with us until about 2 and then moved to her own bed. Our bedroom size/shape and the crawlway between the rooms again adds a new dynamic to being able to transfer a sleeping toddler! I’m still working this one out and hoping to use the time in a normal house to my advantage here!
For the most part Tiny Living has embraced and enhanced our values, ethos, parenting style and goals. I am so glad we did it and I definitely am not looking to reverse that decision! Its allowed us to grow, become intentional and move towards our goals. It is interesting though seeing which parts of our life and parenting have had to change to adapt to Tiny Living.
Tiny Living offers solutions to financial difficulties of the housing market, better use of land and resources, flexibility and a desire to live simply. You gotta sit and ask yourself what you want life to look like and how your THOW needs to be built for that.
Did you partake in Plastic free July recently? Reducing waste is becoming more widely embrace. People are starting to really SEE the mess and be proactive to reduce waste. It truly warms my heart.
But with popularity comes nice, shiny ‘zero waste’ objects popping up in your advertisements. Don’t get me wrong – there are some fantastic products on the market and I own a few favourite items myself. BUT – there is absolutely no need to spend money on stuff in order to swap to lower waste options!
Look closely at what is in your home and recycling bin. There are so many ways to reuse before you go and buy.
In my Tiny House on Wheels space is at a premium. Most of the time items are multifunctional.
One large jar is my most used one and it has held a Christmas gift of granola, leftovers, water kefir and strawberry switchel amongst so many other things. Other jars have been vases, snack boxes, coffee cups, drinking glasses, measuring cups, dressing shakers, milk bottles and more. I keep also an empty jar in my bag with silicon bands on it for takeaway coffee or for bringing home leftover food even.
Other things you might have around your house that you could use might be free cloth ‘showbags’ or water bottles from events, spare cutlery you could throw in your backpack for eating out, icecream or yogurt containers that could become your scrap bucket or even empty food packets that you could use to store bits in your freezer!
– why not grab a small package (think bread bag sort of size) and stuff all the other clean soft plastics in there to take to soft plastic recycling!
While fancy lunchboxes, water bottles, ZW shopping bags and travel cutlery are all pretty cool the reality is most of us have items around our house that could serve the same purpose without having to spend money or claim new resources for manufacturing.
Learning to be intentional, minimalist and eco friendly doesn’t mean getting rid of everything and starting with for purpose buys. It starts with looking around you and what you have – identifying what holds value and what you can use smartly x
P.S. I don’t mean become a clutter bug and keep everything single thing because it might have use! Be intentional about what your needs are and what you can realistically reuse for those needs. The Decluttering and Minimalism module of Talking Tiny delves into the flip side of this concept – how to declutter and deal with ‘waste guilt’.
If you follow my social media and/or my emails you would have seen that we recently went on a bit of a road trip! With 2 small kids sitting in the car for a number of days I knew I wanted to find things to keep them entertained without creating too much waste, mess or clutter!
So here are my top ideas for a family roadtrip!
Secondhand Books! I found a local secondhand store that sold 5 kids books for $2! Honestly they looked brand new. The 2 sticker books didn’t even have any missing stickers (despite a name in the front cover). So I grabbed 10 books with enough variety for both kids. At the end we can donate any books we don’t need/want
Cost – $4
Audio! I’m a big fan of audiobooks and podcasts! Absolutely no affiliation here – I’ll just link my favourites!
Cost – Free! (Or $12 if you include the Spotify membership to download offline)
The Musical Story of Peter Pan (Note – My mum listened to this on record as a toddler and its ALWAYS been a family favourite!)
ABC Listen App! (This has great options for grooving at home and for listening in the car)
Audible (There is SO much to choose from! My girls love the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Playschool and Winnie the Pooh among others)
Music – whatever you all fancy! If you are a Spotify family the Toddler Tunes playlist and the Disney Movie Soundtracks are a hit here!)
Mini Craft Kits! I pulled together a selection of bits from home and from the office supplies place that were car friendly. I got them each a blank notebook from the clearance shelf, a roll of washi tape, a glue stick and some crayons to share. From home I grabbed 2 little pencil cases and some scraps of tissue paper for them to stick. It wasn’t completely zero waste – but it was low waste and fun! Cost – $14
Finger entertainment! I gathered some felt finger puppets I had made previously for the 2 year old to play with and turned a small mind tin in to a mini ‘dolls house’ for some little peg dolls to live in! I even used some old magazine images to put wallpaper in the house. All items were things I had around the house already but are fast projects to make if you plan ahead. The finger puppets I made ahead of a flight 3 years ago and are still a favourite for in my bag or travel!
Snacks! Ever the hero with cranky kids! We took some time to get to our bulkfoods shop and buy some travel-friendly snacks. Dried fruit and some chickpea puffs were on the girls’ list. We also grabbed a box of gluten–free cocoa puffs which is always a special treat and they love it dry! The day before we left I roasted up 2 trays of sweet potato and made some biscuits. Again – low waste not totally zero waste and easy to adapt as needed.
Cost – Approx $15 plus ingredients from the pantry
All up, we were on the road for 4 days plus a day (and 2 nights) at the campsite. I packed all entertainment and snacks into a box and just got out a few things each day!
This meant on the last day of the road trip I still had a few aces up my sleeve 😉
Getting to Alice Springs was far more eventful than we had planned! Here is how it played out..
In the lead up to our trip I spent a lot of time looking into low waste camp foods that nourished my family AND were quarantine friendly as we traveled through 2 borders! I’ll hopefully write some blogs on this soon as well as low waste and low-cost car activities for kids! Stay tuned for the next blog post!
On Friday night (the night before we were destined to leave) Jeremy took the car out to grab some pizza. Unfortunately, the wheel nuts hadn’t been tightened correctly and one of the big 4WD mud tyres flew off the car and hurled towards a group of pedestrians before bouncing off the bus stop sign and landing ON another car.
The crazy thing is that it made NO SENSE for the 4WD to be driven that night. We had not yet finished packing and a cheaper run around car was parked right beside it. But it Jeremy had not taken the 4WD you can guarantee the tyre would have caused problems the next day with the trailer hitched up and us all in the car traveling highway speeds. I don’t know where you stand – but to me, that’s a God moment. We are so lucky!
Saturday morning (after checking out all mechanics to make sure it was safe!) we loaded up, headed to ballet and then made it to Clare Valley region SA to stay with lovely friends who just happened to comment on a post recently that they would love to have us! Talk about perfect timing! It was a slow trip there after a loose clip on the alternator but there was tasty food waiting for us, comfy beds, good company and a promise of patting lots of cuddly critters the next morning! The girls even got to help feed a bottle-fed lamb before we left! So thankful for great friends scattered all over the country!
Sunday we intended to get to Alpana Station in the Flinders Ranges. It looks amazing and we really hope to get there one day! However, our trip was much slower than we had planned due to that loose clip on the alternator and we ended up staying at Mt Remarkable instead which is about half way between Pt Augusta and Port Pirie. It is a really nice quiet spot with big flat campsites and a firepit for every site. It’s got running water, toilets and shower facilities with lots of bushwalks around. We ended up staying here 2 nights!
Our next drama was actually on the Sunday night while setting up the camper trailer that we borrowed from my parents! Jeremy tripped and took a nice chunk of flesh off his shin.
We had everything we needed to get it all bandaged up, but unfortunately, Jeremy has had issues over the trip ended up on an IV drip of antibiotics when we got to Alice Springs and some tissue cut out.
On Tuesday we left Mt Remarkable and headed to Woomera for lunch. I have memories of the Woomera Arboretum as a child being full of birds and averies! It was a little eerie to see all the empty cages but the well cared for grass ovel, picnic tables, BBQs and playground make it a really great place to stop if you are ever traveling through!
We ended up staying at the Coober Pedy Comfort Inn on Tuesday night and Lydia thought we could definitely build an underground house! It was a cool experience to tick off and walk around the underground hotel.
Wednesday we made it to Alice Springs and we will spend the next 6 weeks in the area housesitting. It’s been pretty cool sitting back and watching things just pop up! I’m excited to learn more about animal care, spend time with friends and family, go on explorations and start actioning some cool stuff I’ve had sitting in the background!
Stay tuned for the camp/travel pieces for handy tips!
When I think through the things that we chose to keep in our Tiny House there are many things that pop to mind first. Things I use every day like my frying pan or things that bring me joy like our photo books. But truthfully there is ONE THING that I consider to be an essential – and its probably not what you think!
Having 4 people in about 25m2 of space counting the lofts means there is a lot of nice warm, moist air being breathed into a small space. Plus the steam from cooking or showering means that ventilation is vital! Every space has windows and we tried to arrange cross breeze access as much as we could. Even so, to keep on top of moisture content we find the one item that is most vital in our home is actually an electric dehumidifier.
We have lived in sub-tropical environments with 90% plus humidity in summer and now in Victorian highlands where winter is cold and damp. In both cases our dehumidifier helps us keep our home dry! It’s been really surprising actually just how much water it can suck out! In total we have 9 windows in our home plus the front door and we open up the house as much as possible! I even leave the windows open just a crack even in winter which helps immensely! The kitchen exhaust fan is run whenever cooking in the kitchen and the bathroom has a small fan that runs all the time as a part of the composting toilet set up.
Despite all that ventilation the dehumidifier still fills up at least once a week which stops all that moisture building up in places that it really shouldn’t be! I know, it’s not a particularly exciting item. Still, I consider it one of my most vital items for living as a family in a Tiny House. And it is not an item I would have really considered until such time as we moved in here and lived in the climates that we have lived in!
I’d love to hear from you what you would consider your most essential item?
I’m going to take a wild guess and assume that you have been there like a fly on the wall watching the movement grow for a while now. You’ve seen the TV shows. You’ve heard the podcasts and you’ve stalked Pinterest building a dream board. You flip over the channel whenever your favourite talkback show features Tiny Homes.
You have been fantasizing about Tiny Living and become drawn to a life where you can walk away from so much of the stress and clutter that fills your life. You crave more time to fill your days with the things that ACTUALLY make you happy rather and feeling chained to a rhythm of work and never ending cleaning! Ultimately you want to walk away from the emotional and financial burden of a big house and pick the freedom to take control of how much you need to work.
You and your mates talk about your plan to go Tiny, but deep down something is holding you back. You tell yourself you can’t because of kids, or cost, or because you have listened to other’s opinions telling you that its way too radical. Truthfully? You are somewhere between scared to jump in and lost where to start. It all just seems impossible.
Trust me. That is where we were once upon a time. I know the feeling of being completely overwhelmed by all the clutter we fill our homes with in the process of trying to fill our lives with happiness. I know the feeling of dismay as our houses get bigger and the feeling of finally finishing that list of cleaning gets further away.
I know how marvellous the idea of building something new and leaving all the crap behind. I also know how scary it is to jump in. Truthfully you are likely stuck somewhere between fear and simply just not know HOW or WHERE to get started.
And that is where this course comes in.
Talking Tiny the Course is an accumulation of all things Tiny Living. This is what you need to help you set your goals, design your layout and declutter. This is what you need to hear about challenges you may face in advance so that you can avoid the mistakes that cost TIME and MONEY! This is what you need to know to guide you on your first real steps towards Tiny Living!
This is what you need to really solidify your vision and build a plan of how to get there.
This is going to build the foundations for you to transition your life into Tiny Living. Talking Tiny is about how to LIVE in a Tiny House and how to walk that path towards your goals.
I know how badly you want to leave the normality of modern life and go manifest your Tiny Living dreams.
Parenting is such a process of ALWAYS learning right? Recently I got frustrated with the refusal to help pick up toys after playing. I love seeing them have fun! But it has to be packed up when they are done so things don’t get broken (and I don’t go a little batty)
So I explained that I could help them care for their toys by taking away the ones they didn’t want to put away.
1st time eventually everything was put away after a lot of protests. The second time I set a timer for 10mins and said I would pick up whatever hadn’t been picked up when the bell went off and again explained that I was helping them to care for their toys and play better without mess by taking away what they didn’t really want to play with.
Within 5 mins they had picked up what they wanted and gone back to playing. When the bell rang I sat down with them and asked if they were ready for me to help them now and pick up all the toys they didn’t want to play with.
So I picked the rest up. It wasn’t a huge amount (we didn’t have tons to start with anyway but in such a small space it made a significant difference.
3 months later and they haven’t asked for a single thing in that bag. They play better with what’s left and fight less.
But it was their choice.
It has been about 4 months now and they have actually asked me to take away a few more things because cleaning up was too hard and they like it being easier! Interesting right? There are actually studies that back up the fact that children tend to play better with fewer toys too. When presented with too much choice kids can find the stimulation quite overwhelming and get frustrated rather than engaging in play.