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do small homes keep family close?

Posted by caligal (My Page) on
Fri, Dec 2, 11 at 10:05

Ok, of course small homes keep us close in proximity, but what about our relationships?

My husband has a very large family and I have noticed a difference in my nieces and nephews who visit and stay the night. The ones who live in the mcmansion sized homes seem less communicative and don't seem to have as close a relationship with their parents as the children who live in the smaller homes.

They seem to be doing things their parents are unaware of as well. I can pop into a room, in a second, to check on the computer, tv, video games etc. We share a lot of time in our living room together. My relatives sometime don't even have a clue where the kids are playing and what they are doing.

I am not a helicopter parent who constantly hovers, but I know, for the most part, what my kid is doing while he is home.

Any thoughts form others?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: do small homes keep family close?

We don't have kids, but we do have a LOT of nieces and nephews, who love to spend time, on our family farm. From what I've seen, the biggest problem is computers (especially Internet) in their rooms. Those who don't have it and have to use the 'family computer' in the kitchen or family room (under a parent's watchful eye) seem to be more communicative, than those who have access in their own room. Same thing with the TV.

When the kids are 'underfoot' as some say, it's much easier to know what they're doing and to talk to them about their activities. If they have a question about homework...someone is right there to answer it, not down a flight or two of stairs. The parents, who are involved with their kids activities (especially at home) seem to have the best relationships. From what I've seen...it's better to hover than to be too far away.

With a smaller home, it's easier to keep an eye on everything, but in a bigger home...the same thing can be accomplished by keeping kids' activities in a family area. Just my two cents :)


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RE: do small homes keep family close?

good points, lavender. I guess you just need to be more on top of things if you have a larger home. In our home if you need to use the computer, you need to be in the living room. If you want to watch the "good" television you also have to be in the living room. Our living room is a very small great-room.

We don't believe in having a computer or a tv in our son's room. At night when he can't sleep he grabs a book. We also take the cell phone at bedtime. So, I guess it has more to do with parenting than the space. That said, we all see each other a lot more because we live in a small, one story home.


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RE: do small homes keep family close?

I've always ascribed to the theory that the bigger the house, the less time families will spend together. In our old 1200 sq ft home, we had no choice but to "deal" with each other, even in after an argument. Now that we're in a larger home, it seems too easy to retreat to our respective corners. My DH works from home and, honestly, we could go days without seeing one another if we really wanted to. (And our home isn't super huge--@about 4K sq ft!)


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RE: do small homes keep family close?

I am glad you mentioned it because I am beginning to subscribe to this theory. Our house isn't small - 3100 sq ft - but we all spend 90% of our time in the main level which is about 1250 sq ft. 2 adults, 3 boys, one fish. The lower level houses a treadmill and is a place to send the kids when they want to roughhouse or play Wii. I keep dreaming of a different, bigger house and one has just come up for sale in the premier stately yet funky neighboorhood in our town (eclectic, older to midcentury architecture, no McMansions). 5600 sq ft including the finished non-daylight basement. Yes, too big I guess. The main worry about our house is that besides the master we have only 2 bedrooms on the main level, which isn't enough for each boy to have their own. Now, they all sleep together in one bedroom "the sleeping room" and their dressers and bookshelf are in the other "dressing room". At 9,8 and 4 this is not a long term solution but they like it this way, having always shared a room, and none of them wants to sleep alone (though getting the 3 of them to settle down at bedtime can be a challenge, the perennial slumber party). The rest of the main level is almost one big open space, and most of the time I like being with everyone and knowing where they're at and what they're doing. So maybe a bigger house is not better.

PS, pls don't shoot the poster here - I know our house is way too big to give me rights to this forum, but I come here for inspiration when I feel the "McMansion" McEnvy bug creeping in. Keeps me real, knowing many others get by -- happily, thank you very much -- on much much less space. I like reading posts from folks who choose to live in smaller spaces and make it work.


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RE: do small homes keep family close?

do small homes keep family close?

I think so. Part of it is the small space, and part is choice, no matter what size house you have. Our home is just under 2000sf, but we have one (19") TV, and when the kids were young, only one computer for family use. LOL, I didn't use a computer then, so it wasn't a big deal. They didn't have cell phones or hand-held video games. One of our relatives was so surprised that we had no VCR/DVD player, that she went out and bought us one. I still don't use it.

The kids had the run of the property, barn and most of the neighbors' places. They weren't constantly underfoot, but they knew to stay reasonably close. The cast iron bell by our back door was reserved for my use, or for dire emergencies--when I rang that bell they (and their friends) all came running!

mimi72, welcome, there's lots of inspiration, here! Your post reminded me of a raised ranch we lived in when the kids were really small. They all three shared the second bedroom on the main floor, next to ours. A finished bedroom in the basement was our 'dresser' room. It was next to the laundry--very convenient for me--no lugging laundry baskets up and down the stairs.


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RE: do small homes keep family close?

mama goose -- thanks for the welcoming note!


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RE: do small homes keep family close?

Mimi- Welcome to the forum! :)

It's so easy to justify more spaces, in the home. Room for a separate/formal dining area, maybe a keeping room...a spot for scrapbooking or sewing, bigger playroom, space for a pool table. See what I mean? LOL

While one or two of those (or more) might really make your home more enjoyable for you and your family...sometimes all those spaces start to duplicate functions and they're not used, nearly as much as one would think. Or, they spread the family out so much, they don't interact the way they used to...so while it's fun to imagine the 'perks' of a McMansion...it's also nice to enjoy the coziness (but not too cozy) and family friendly spaces of a well-designed smaller home.


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RE: do small homes keep family close?

I think it depends on the family. I grew up in a 900sf home with 2 siblings and my parents. Things were CRAMPED. Us 3 kids shared a 10x15 room until I was 14 and my parents could afford a small addition. Anyway...none of us are close at all. We're probably the most distant family that you would ever meet. For example, I had a baby 4 months ago - and my one sister has only ever held him twice...and that's because I stuck him in her lap both times. We don't call each other, and rarely text. My parents tend to screen their calls and not return messages. I'm very seriously considering moving to the other side of the country because I feel like I have nothing keeping me here. We all have social relationships outside of the family, but for a million reasons, we're just not close with each other - despite never having 5 minutes of privacy from each other for most of our lives. I can't imagine anything being any different if our house was 5X the size growing up. Actually, I could see us being closer today if that were the case because maybe we would have had some air to breathe. Hope that helps!!


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RE: do small homes keep family close?

I think 900 sf for five people...might be an example of too cozy.

Sorry you're not closer with your family, but maybe a move is what you need. Do you have a specific area in mind...or maybe a job opportunity? Warmer climates always sound appealing to us, right about the time 3 feet of snow covers everything. Beautiful for about a week...then it's time to think about spring!


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RE: do small homes keep family close?

I think it has to do more with parenting than house size. My dad grew up in a small house with 6 siblings and none of them are/were really close. But he didn't' have loving parents when he grew up. They were busy, and a bit distant with all the kids.

My dad was that way with us too. My mom was better, but even she wasn't a hugger, or even very supportive of us kids. I grew up in a house about 1000 sq ft. I couldn't stand my brother from the time I can remember. We didn't start becoming friends until I was about 20, and he was in an accident two years later and never came out of the coma, so we never had a chance to build a new relationship.

Dh grew up in a house about 900 sq ft, but his parents were very close to their families, big huggers, and active with the kids. Dh & his bro are fairly close. They're off hunting together today. I don't think they ever talk about anything personal though. lol


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RE: do small homes keep family close?

Yes, 900sf is way too cozy. We spent a lot of time outside haha. I live in northern NY right now, and am considering California. I have it narrowed down to...the middle of the state somewhere, no specifics yet. We're currently up by Canada, right in the snow belt - so we're itching to get away from this climate too. We actually have to shovel our roof or else ice damns form and leak through the ceiling (learned the hard way). Ugh, it's the worst!!! But my hubby got a good "starter job" here - so we're going to stick around and flip this house, and let him get his foot in the door in his field (electrical engineering). Probably another 4 years or so...then I think we're hitting the road!


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RE: do small homes keep family close?

An EE? Does he have a computer science background too? Oil companies here are paying top dollar for that combo.


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RE: do small homes keep family close?

Donna- That's even colder than our area! We're in eastern Washington and the snow does get tiresome...but when we do have nice weather, it's perfect for the garden. Not very many bugs, no Japanese beetles so far, great soil and lovely, long summer days :)

If you do decide to move to California, I've heard northern California is very nice (up closer to Oregon). Still near the coast, but not supposed to be as busy and still nice gardening weather. Of course, I'm assuming you want to garden! LOL


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