TLF is like a hotel suite in that it is fully furnished and housekeeping comes by every day to swap out towels, change bed sheets, restock toilet paper, etc. We have lived in TLF many times before. We lived in TLF in Arkansas for 7 months. Remember? It was Jack’s first home. It was very spacious. We lived in TLF in San Antonio for the first three months of this year. It was a two-story duplex unit with three bedrooms and 2 1/2 bathrooms. We had tons of room. Even the few short days we spent in TLF in Abilene last week provided us with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. We are now in a TLF unit in New Mexico for the next three months. It has one bedroom and one bathroom. It is 475 square feet. It is smaller than the efficiency apartment that Steve lived in when he lived by himself in college.
Thankfully, we knew what we were getting into before we got here so we were able to plan ahead and be careful about what we brought with us. Everyone got to bring 5 shirts and 5 bottoms, 2 pairs of shoes (I may have broken this one rule for myself. Shhhhh), and we have 1 small bin of toys. For all three kids. Yep. I know. And guess what? They are surviving. And they are even having fun. Because guess what, American Toy Industry? Our kids don’t need entire rooms full of thousands of dollars worth of toys. It’s amazing how far their imaginations will take them. We are kind of toy-minimalists compared to most people we know, as it is. So it wasn’t hard to go to one bin for a little while. I let each kid pick 5 toys to fit. Jack picked 3 little footballs, 1 small soccer ball and a toy car. Steven picked 5 cars. Gabby picked a piece of plastic broccoli, a string, a spoon and some other silly things. I made her trade them for toys she would actually enjoy having, like a small box of Polly Pockets, a toy phone, a magnetic paper doll book. They each added 1 stuffed animal at the end to sleep with.
The only thing we did not go skimpy on was toiletries. Because the packers would not pack any liquids with our household goods, we have every bottle of hair gel, mouse, hairspray, body spray, lotion, cough medicine, spray-in conditioner and eye drops that we own. It is slightly ridiculous. I never would have brought it all with us, except that not bringing it meant throwing it all away which felt much more wasteful to me than taking up an extra couple of precious storage square footage. But oh, well. We also have with us all the things that make life comfortable; electronics, coloring books and crayons, my sewing basket, a small tool chest….We brought as little with us as possible, but it’s still quite a lot of stuff for 475 square feet.
Want to see our digs? Good. Here’s our fancy Summer Home
A tension shower curtain rod that we brought came in handy as extra hanging space when hung across the vanity area.
A bin of drawers we used to pack stuff in is now a handy nightstand.
This is the only actual closet space in the whole unit. It does not have a door on it, which drives my husband bananas. But it’s okay since the lack of doors gives us more space to stash stuff.
The entertainment stand serves triple-duty. It is where we keep our shoes (in the bottom drawer), where we stash the kids’ pillows and other bedding during the day, the navy colored crates on the third shelf down are all the kids’ non-hanging clothes, and the bottom is the “fun stuff” shelf – toy bin, coloring books, crayons. The top of the cabinet is where we keep the motorcycle helmet and windshield, of course. What home is complete without motorcycle windshield storage?
Our stroller and the cooler we are borrowing are stored on our little porch. Our three parking spots are wider than our entire unit.
And ugly picture in the bedroom is now hanging room for flightsuits, towels and other randomness.
This is what playtime looks like – with the toy bin out and the kids having some fun.
During the day when Jack needs to nap but everyone else needs to function and use the space, this is our current solution. A noise-canceling fan, a propped up empty box, and a sheet over 3 pillows in the corner of the bedroom. He has napped there quite successfully all week.
At night, this is our living-room set-up. The boys have been enjoying the pull-out bed, while the Princess is more demanding of her own space and has been sleeping on the two couch cushions held together with a bungee cord on the underside, making up a little Gabby-sized bed.
One major benefit to our unit is the location. Within a very short walk (10 minutes or less) is the grocery store, the base exchange (like a department store), a coffee shop, McDonalds (oh, dear), the base library, Steve’s work building, the base pool (opening this weekend!!!! Yesss!!!!) and several playgrounds. We really don’t have to spend very much time in our little home with all the great stuff right outside the door!
Somehow, this tiny little space is totally working for us. The night we got in, Steve prayed over our little TLF unit, asking God to bless it and allow the space to suit our family. And I think we really will be blessed by this very close family time in the next few months. Plus, when we get into our brand new 1950 square-foot home in Las Vegas after this trip, it will feel like a mansion and we will be all the more thankful for it. Now, I’m off to take my laundry basket of dirty clothes 4 doors down the building to the community laundry room…..but for now, you’re all caught up!