2 bedrooms with 3 kids- is this simplifying or creating chaos?! - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 20 Old 03-09-2011, 10:20 PM - Thread Starter
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We are debating downsizing and moving into a 2 bedroom rental for a few years so I can work a bit less to be home more with our 3rd.  We live in a really expensive area (currently pay $3200/month rent for a 4 bedroom house) and don't want to move out of our city due to our older two being in public school and our entire community feeling like home to us.  A 2 bedroom place is the only way we can really cut a large portion (about $1000/month!) off our rent.  Part of me is excited to simplify, get rid of things we don't need and live in a smaller space.  Part of me wonders if we should just stay in the 4 bedroom place we rent now and just barely scrape by financially....because if we stay here long term, we would have enough bedrooms when the kids are older they could each have their own space. I try to remind myself that we live in a very elitist society where we think that children should have their own space, and we think that we NEED way more stuff or space than we actually do.  I wonder if my family can embrace the downsizing with me- or if we are just going to feel crammed into a space in which we don't fit.  Buying is not an option right now, and probably won't be for about 10 years. 

Can people please share their experiences living in a small space (2 bedrooms or less) with 3 or more children?  How do you keep it simple?  Where does everyone sleep?  Where do you store all the "stuff" (sports equipment, bikes, backpacks, shoes, jackets, toys, etc) that amasses in your home with several children around?  Do you like having a small space?



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#2 of 20 Old 03-09-2011, 10:37 PM
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Something to consider is it might be hard to find someone willing to rent you a 2 bedroom place for 5 people.  Usually there is a two person per room limit, though they may allow it with an infant, so you could call around and ask.


Otherwise, we did live in a 2-bedroom apartment with 3 kids years ago and I honestly hated it.  It might have been much more doable if it were a house with a yard and more space, but as it was, it was too tight - even with small children (5 and under).  It was probably the longest 18 months of my life!  But I am much more comfy living as we are now, with a huge house and 5 bedrooms, especially with the kids being older.


People definitely do do it, and are able to downsize their belongings enough and get organized so it works out.  Which reminds me, we ended up renting a storage unit when we lived in that apt. so that added $100 to our housing cost per month. 

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#3 of 20 Old 03-10-2011, 06:11 AM
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We have 3 kids in a bedroom right now.  Well actually 3 kids in 2 bedrooms.  In each room there is a set of bunkbeds, and a single bed.

Each room also has a dresser mostly for out of season clothes because I use those hanging shelves in the closet for their clothing.

They also each have a under the bed container for their special toys that dont belong in general toy population :)  There is also a bookshelf with 3 shelves for their books. One the back of each door is a shoe rack thing. I took a sharpie and wrote their names on the pockets so they know exactly where they go.


We just downsized and gave up a garage and about 1000 sf. Best thing we ever did. We also have up about $1200 extra in payments every month.


The key to it all is to just be organized, make sure everything has a place. I couldnt imagine life without my label maker lol

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#4 of 20 Old 03-12-2011, 04:42 AM
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Until recently, we had been living in a small, 1200 sq foot 2 bedroom/1 bath house (800 sq on the first floor, 400sq of a partially finished basement/laundry room).  We have three boys: ds 1 (10/04) and ds 2 (1/07) shared a room, and ds 3 (4/09) was in our room.


It was fine.  We moved when DS 3 was 15 months, so we 'survived' having him in our room for 15 months.  I'd recommend that for you guys as well since your youngest is a wee one.  It gave the older boys more 'me' space and honestly, the baby was still nursing at night so it was convenient anyway.


Our new house is about 2300 sq. now.  The older boys still share a room, and the younger is in his own room.  We downsized toys actually when we moved from the smaller house to the bigger house :)


It's my belief that you make work what you have to, and you fill the room you are given. 


For that much money, I'd probably do it.

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#5 of 20 Old 03-12-2011, 05:00 AM
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We're about to move 3 people into a 1BR.


I would go for it, personally. You could put the two older boys in a bunk (or these are cool, and we're planning on making one next week in preparation for our downsizing: OP loft bed you could even give them each their own with their personal space underneath) and then have the smallest in with you.


$1000/mo is huge, especially if it will give you what you want for your family (the ability for you to stay home). I think it sounds great.

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#6 of 20 Old 03-12-2011, 09:14 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the encouragement and feedback.  Forgot to mention that the place we're considering is owned by a father with 2 girls who lives in the upper flat, so the backyard is a child wonderland: tree house, swings, trampoline, vegetable garden, even a hot tub (which I suppose could require MORE supervision really)!  So I think the kids will be even more motivated to play outside than they are in our current situation with a yard, but a yard that is not really suited for kids (big rose bed in the middle of the yard, lots of mud, weird concrete walking paths throughout, etc.)  Personally, I would downsize and move there in a heartbeat- I just need my husband to recognize the need to get rid of a lot of our large items of furniture...and a LOT of his junk...oops, I mean "stuff".

I love the idea of loft beds for the older 2...that is how I am trying to convince them it will be really fun for them to share a room again. :)  I think loft beds are the key to making it work for them to share a room, since they are both at the age where they have friends over frequently and want their own spaces, however small.

Keep sharing your experiences.  I love to read how other families made it work.  And I can pass on all this info to dh!

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#7 of 20 Old 03-12-2011, 10:40 AM
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Since you are renting not buying I don't see much harm in going for it, sometimes kids like the closeness better.  In California the law pretty much allows for 2 people per bedroom of a rental, and then one extra person, so for a 2 bedroom that is 5.  It would be pretty easy to enforce against a big landlord, but not so much against someone renting one unit of their place, but it sounds like you already know the situation.  The outside space in CA is like having more indoor space because we can use it so much, so that will help.  Don't worry about what other people think, I find that a simple "we love living debt free, and being good to the environment" works every time.  The rent you are paying now is just so much, it really makes sense to downsize.  If you need something bigger as the kids get older you can make a choice again then.

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#8 of 20 Old 03-13-2011, 03:21 PM
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We moved into a 2 bedroom, 900sq ft apartment while I was pregnant with #3. We had no choice after we lost our home but we have been here almost a year and it has been fine. We plan to stay here another 2 years since we do want a garage, larger yard, and our own washer and dryer. We've always assumed  the boys would share a room anyway.

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#9 of 20 Old 03-14-2011, 09:00 AM
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We live in a 2 bedroom now with three kids, and it works. The little ones are in my bedroom still- but we are moving and as we look at hoping to buy a house somewhere in the next few years, we are also thinking hard about renting a 2 bedroom for now. 


I do want to reconfigure a bit so it works better for our family as the kids are growing, and as I have considered things, I think we are going to look for a murphy bed for our living room for DH and I to share.  The kids will have the bedrooms, and we will be able to enjoy the house after they are in bed, and still have some space of our own. I think comes down to taking a look at how you want to live your life, and how you can make use of the space you have without feeling overrun. 

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#10 of 20 Old 03-14-2011, 10:12 AM
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My parents did when I was a kid. It was fine from a kids perspective! Now my mom went a little crazy during the long winters, lol.

Suzan, mama to DS 9-18-07 and #2 EDD 3/4/10 GIRL!.
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#11 of 20 Old 03-15-2011, 06:16 AM
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i shared a room with my sister for 15 of the 18 years i lived at home, and we even shared a bed (by choice) until i was 8. i wouldn't have traded that time for the world. my sister is my best friend to this day, and i know a lot of that is because of the time and closeness we had together. when i was a very young child all three of my siblings and i were in one room (two bunk beds), and we loved it. we were little and thought it was like a permanent sleep over. it is a great way to teach your children compassion and sharing. we maintained personal space boundaries by each having an area that was off limits to everyone else. once we had our own beds, anything on or under our beds was totally off limits to siblings, so we still had a sense of ownership and privacy if we wanted.

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#12 of 20 Old 03-15-2011, 12:59 PM
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We downsized in size of house, but actually went from 3 bdrm to 4 bedrooms.  My kids had previously had their own rooms.  I our current configuration my boys share a bedroom and have a playroom.  There are pretty much no toys in the bedrooms at all and the toy room has communal toys and a small bookshelf full of books and non-communal toys.  If one kid has a friend the other is expected to take some toys and play elsewhere and let the sibling and their friend(s) have the playroom.


Anyway my situation doesn't correlate perfectly to yours, but my greater point is that I don't miss the 500 square feet of house that we "lost" and I certainly would trade it for the other lifestyle changes it made possible (super easy commutes).   I think your transition would be even easier with your mild CA climate and the neat outdoor space of the new place.

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#13 of 20 Old 03-16-2011, 11:57 PM
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We're knee-deep in downsizing now and unloading from what used to be a borderline hoarding mentality.  We went from a 4br+office house (lr, dr, kitchen & fr) that had a 900sf walk-up, full ceiling height attic, a 700sf basement plus a 2-car garage with a walk-up loft... and all of it pretty full.  Plus, the bedrooms were huge, the ceilings were high and we had a half-acre of land to boot.


We're currently in a rental while our 3br (TINY brs) house with a partial, 58" ceiling height basement is finished being renovated (it was a foreclosure) sitting on a tiny plot of land (less than 1/4 acre).  And the rental is kind of a step between the two.


We unloaded a LOT.  We made a little more than $1,000 at our garage sale (can you even imagine?), donated a TON and tossed still more.


The critical factors for us:


  • Making sure everything has a place.  And that means making sure you know how much you have of something before creating a space for it!
  • Cutting down on the excesses--especially clothing and linens.  How many pairs of jeans do you really need?  How many towels?
  • Getting more creative about where things are kept.  For us, this means that spare linens for each room are kept in that room (generally on the top shelf in the closet).
  • Using space differently.  Not just the loft bed, but spaces that you don't always associate with storage.  We found ourselves buying more stuff to rework the way we lived--which ran into unexpected costs; but a SIGNIFICANT change in how we were able to live.  A small, 15" round storage ottoman from Target was a lifesaver.  :)


Cutting down on linens and clothing was huge.  It freed up space to put clothing that I bought ahead of time (when it was on clearance).  Each of our kids will have a piece of furniture relegated to the basement, but whaddaya gonna do.


The flip side is that we will be paying about $1600/mo in housing cost vs. our former $3500/mo.  I'd love to say that the money is worth it, but until I have it in my hands and see what it can do in our lives that makes me feel like the crunch is worth it... it's hard!!!  That being said, getting rid of all that stuff has been the best thing we ever did; and now that I've gone through a first pass--going through it again and paring down more is infinitely easier than I ever imagined it could be.


So consider purging in phases.  Do the first pass with the stuff that comes easy just to get some done and feel that feeling of freedom.  Then go through it again with a finer toothed comb.  And realize that in the process of organizing, you are likely to spend money you may not have realized you'd need to spend.  Worth it, but unexpected.


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#14 of 20 Old 03-19-2011, 03:31 PM
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We had 2 bedrooms for 7 people for a while.  BUT, we had space(basement) for play areas.  We had 2 bunk beds in one bedroom and a giant king family bed in the other bedroom.   The kids were 2-17 years old. 

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#15 of 20 Old 03-22-2011, 09:47 AM
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I think it's doable but I would only do it if the shared living space is large enough. We only have two kids and we're in a three bedroom and the third bedroom doesn't even get used. But I definitely wish I could add that square footage to the main floor living area. With four of us in 550 square feet (kitchen and living room) I feel like we're always on top of eachother and toys are everywhere!! All the bedrooms and bath are upstairs.


So I guess what I'm saying is consider the overall layout and square footage of the house/apartment. We lived in a few different 2 bedrooms and felt like they were much more spacious than our current 3 bedroom. We're hoping to buy a house this summer and will seriously consider a 2 bedroom if we have substantial shared living space.

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#16 of 20 Old 03-22-2011, 10:11 AM
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I have 4 people in a small 900 sq. ft. townhouse w/ a one car garage & some attic space (no yard, but a small patio & commons area).  All the toys and play things are in the living room (along with our couch and kitchen table as our kitchen is not a eat in kitchen), as my DS bedroom is too small for toys with a crib, changing table, & two dressers.  Once the kids get older we plan on giving them our larger bedroom and moving all toys upstairs.  However, I like living in my small home even with the clutter and chaos.  Only thing I wish I had was a bigger kitchen.  It makes it easier to watch the kids, with them being so young, as there's not many places they can get to.  I go to other people's larger homes and I dread having to chase them all over.


Growing up we had 6 people in a one bedroom with a one car garage and a basement.  My siblings and I used the refinished attic as our bedroom.  4 kids in one bedroom until the oldest was in 8th grade and then we moved.  It never bothered me sharing a room or living in a small house.

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#17 of 20 Old 03-23-2011, 07:13 AM
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We are 7people (1 adult, 6 kids, ages 10-18) living in 800sqft. and we fit just fine.  Our place is basically two rooms.......a kitchen (20X13) and a large family room (16X27).  The family room is 4 feet narrower than the kitchen because we built bunks along the west wall (long wall with no windows) so each kid has a built-in "berth" that's 9X4 feet.  They are double-decker, so they can't stand up, but they can sit/kneel comfortably on their beds.  Each kid has an outlet, a curtain for their opening, and built-in cubbies for their clothes/stuff.  Most of the kids also have a shelf/storage unit at one end of their bed as well.  It is funny, because half of the kids are compulsively neat about their spaces, the other kids' spaces are a MESS, but I don't care as long as their curtains are closed when we have company.  The saving grace is our loft spaces.  We have three lofts, each of them are pretty small, two are 8X12 feet or so, but only just over 5 feet at the peak.  One of them is accessible from the family room, and it is the playloft, where legos, trains, blocks, etc are used.  This keeps the main room clear of building projects.  The other is my room, accessible from the kitchen.  It has a small closet as well.  The third loft is only 4X12, and is also in the kitchen, but on the other side (above the bathroom/utility closet)  It has its own ladder, and has manipulatives as well as a comfy cushion for reading.  That loft is only open to kids 10+ due to the type of ladder, etc.  All three lofts have lights/outlets.  We have been able to accommodate plenty of overnight guests, have parties, gatherings, etc.  I like having tons of open "common areas" and less room set aside for private spaces.  It has worked out really well for our family.


Now, I realize that in a rental, you can't design things this way, but you can build a pretty solid free-standing loft in a rental, and that would really help your space needs.  Also, think about spaces differently.  Are there any decent-sized closets?  Take the door off and build a play loft right inside!  The lower part could be for housekeeping/dress-up play, the upper part for legos/blocks/dollhouse stuff.  I've lived in a studio apartment (pre-kids) and built a HUGE loft at one end for my bed.  That freed up space underneath for clothing storage, etc.  I adore lofts!  Oh, one more thing.....before we moved here, we were 2 adults/4 kids in a three bedroom house (we owned it).  We had one bedroom for the adults, one bedroom as a play room, and all four kids were in the master bedroom.  We built four free-standing lofts, so the kids slept on the top, and each had a dresser and desk underneath.  They never had the expectation that they would have their own rooms, and were happy with the arrangement.  Now, they like having a small space that is just their own.  Occasionally they will tease me that "other kids can at least stand up in their rooms" or (my favorite) "at least YOU can lay BOTH ways in your space" but they really seem ok with the set-up!

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#18 of 20 Old 04-29-2014, 02:51 PM
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we are getting ready to sell our acreage, and move into a 2 bedroom apt.I have a son that is 3 and two step kids 13(girl) and 14(boy) we get them on weekends. Our plan is to give them the one bedroom to share and my son will share our room.We can't afford our 5 bedroom acreage anymore. we have lived here for 2 years and have been struggling since.We plan to buy again in a couple years when the kids are older and we aren't paying child support and i get to go back full time and my son is in school full time.It will be hard but we did it before and can do it again. Thank you for sharing, it makes me feel better that others are in the same boat and have made this choice to better their life and family.

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#19 of 20 Old 06-14-2014, 12:54 PM
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We live in a 2 bedroom house with 3 kids (9,7 and 3) and it suits us just fine. It helps that we are on 2 acres so plenty of outdoor play space plus a covered porch to sit on even if it's rainy. Actually this is quite spacious as we have spent years of our lives together living in campers travelling with DH's previous job. Even with three kids in a camper we functioned fine with good organization as long as we had outdoor space to get to. Our current rental set up is living and kitchen with bar at the counter top (no dining table) and a bathroom with laundry room/storage area next to it. Then the two bedrooms.

To make it work I have all three kids in one bedroom - girls in a bunk bed on one side, DS in a loft bed on the other side that has a desk/table running the length of the bed. This is their desk/homeschool station and has books across the back. Each kid has a small shelf on the wall near their bed for "personal" items. A small 3 shelf bookcase sits on the wall with the door & closet. A small tv/dvd is on top of the bookshelf and then it has baskets for toys. The closet holds all the other toys on shelves and in one large tub.

All the clothes are stored in dressers and closet in the other bedroom where our bed is. The living room is small but has the desk in a cubby by the bar and we only have one couch in there. We use floor pillows for more seating space when we want to sprawl out to watch movies. It's small but it's plenty big enough. We don't find we have issues with personal space. If someone wants to be "alone" I either declare the kid room theirs only for a while or allow them in my room alone for space. We hope to build in the near future and actually plan to build something this size if not smaller. I think it is fine as long as there is space to get away from each other (even outside) if needed plus less stuff and good organization techniques.
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#20 of 20 Old Yesterday, 12:30 AM
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I know this is an old thread, but I figured I would state my take. We have 7 people currently as well as a baby on the way in a 1400 not well thought out sq ft home. The house has been reconfigured so many times, I truly don't know the original lay out...but currently it is terrible. We have lived here for over 12 years...and it started feeling cramped when the second child got to running around age. I grew up in a large 6 bedroom, 3 story home with only 5 people in it..so I felt cramped here quickly. Several kids later and the feeling has increased terribly. Reading all of your posts, it makes me feel like I should be more comfortable...but honestly, I just want a bigger house to start over in. This house has inadequate storage as well as huge privacy issues. For instance, the only bathroom on the main level is the master bath......so everyone has to walk through my room to go potty. It isn't a deal with the kids, but it is a little strange with guests. Also, the last renters decided to make the master a living room (which makes sense if you didn't need it as a bedroom..but we do), so they took out the door and made an archway. So my bedroom has no door and joins to the living/kitchen and is direct route to the front door. I feel like I have NO privacy. The eat in kitchen is not ideal (as in storage and counter space), but it could be worse. The living room is pretty small....and is terrible to have guests over with our already large family. In the living room, we have: one small couch, a small chair, a couple of misplaced stools....as well as two storage ottomans and a small stand for the entertainment stuff...and a book shelf in the "hallway" leading to our bedroom. Oh and a playpen that is my 2 yo bedroom. So with all of that stuff, we seriously don't have a lot of walk way in the maybe 15x15ft (that is probably a generous measurement). And that includes our "entry way"...aka the front door. The eat in kitchen is maybe the same size. Our laundry room is a thorough fare to the carport as well as the downstairs....in which the stairway takes up almost half of the room. The laundry room is also a make shift pantry (cabinet) and storage for the vac, cleaning supplies and stuff that would typically be in a garage (car care items as well as stuff like pool toys). .....so not really much space for say.....dirty clothes...except the walk way. The down stairs is a mess. It used to be a big open room (with no windows and one closet), and one bedroom and a bathroom. Once we had 4 kids we split the large room into 2 rooms with a homemade rock climbing wall. It sounded like a great idea....but the kids got bored with it quickly and the divided room was pointless because the kids all slept in one room even though we planned to divide them up...most of the time they ended up all curled up in one twin bed.....by there choice. It seems odd, but I did the same as a young kid before we moved into the big house. We lived in a small trailer. My brothers shared a room and I had my own...we alternated switching between rooms so we were all together...when in my room all three of us would sleep in a homemade bed that was seriously no bigger than a love seat! We were young and chicken! I moved into the big house at about 7. I don't recall us wanting to share rooms at that point...but my brothers are 5 and 8 years older than me. But back to my current situation. The bedroom, down stairs was eventually made into an office/work room. I know it wasn't the best use of space...but with just the 4 kids...2 and 2 in the big divided room, it seemed like it would work. Now that my oldest wants her own space, she now inhabits the office/bedroom and her siblings share half of the divided room (given they want to share anyway) and the other side is my office/work room. It still isn't ideal...and we need to reconfigure again now that our 2 yo has been evicted from our bed! I am sure we could make the house work if I purged a lot and reconfigured....but honestly, I just want a new start.....preferably not next to my inlaws...lol. Also as stated in a different thread, I have had issues purging due to being sentimental, creative and environmentally cautious. But I feel that if I had a new house that I would not want to bring in the old junk and it would be easier to purge. But hubby doesn't agree. He is a minimalist and his mantra is "less stuff not more space." I feel a lot of our woes would be fixed if I just had adequate storage....in this instance out of the house (or even if the attic could be converted)......but hubby doesn't want for me to get extra storage but instead me just purge. I know purging is what needs to be done...but man it has been so hard! I am constantly getting rid of stuff, but it has seemed as quickly as it leaves more has come in! Is it sad that I am happy that we take out a bag of trash every other day?!?? I feel bad as I am big into keeping the environment healthy...but at this point my sanity is more important! We used to only have a bag week...and I would brag about that.....but I would also have overflowing recycle bins! Thankfully now recycling is easier here...so it doesn't pile up as bad as it used to...but it has still been a pain. I say all of that to say...DONT DOWNSIZE if you have a lot if kids!
Ok my rant is over...lol
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