Hari Berzins who with her family of four has been living in a tiny house for some time and who has been writing their story over at the Tiny House Family blog. has just launched her first book. I had the privilege of reading it recently and wanted to let you know about it.
Hari writes in a journalistic style that I really enjoyed and she has a way with words that pulled me in to each day to day experience. Hari shares how the family made the change to tiny house living, the struggles that came along with it and the joys.
This is a book that anyone considering downsizing should read. I have attached an excerpt from her book below so that you can read a little bit of her book.
Something Hard about Living in a Tiny House
It’s a good question, and I get it a lot: “What’s the hardest thing about living in a tiny house?” I’ve said the hardest thing about living in a tiny house is answering that question, but here’s something hard: sleepovers. Not the adult kind, but the kid kind. We had some sleepovers last year in spring, and it wasn’t as hard. I think a lot of it depends on the weather, like so much does when you live in a tiny house.
Why was it so hard having Ella’s school friend, Sally, for the weekend? For one thing, it was two nights, and I need a lot of quiet time. If it had been one night, just when I needed that quiet, it would’ve been time to send her home, but she was here all day and another night. Other factors that added to the difficulty were that it rained all day and Ella bugged me incessantly, “When can we make taffy?” I held a firm no about making taffy since I knew that it was more than I could manage.
I had to sauce up the last of the apples and can them as well as cook three meals and clean up after all of them. The laundry was on the line when the rain started on Friday night, probably totally dry and ready to be folded, but I was busy starting a fire in the fire pit, wanting to get it going strong before the wood got too wet.
I guess I had my priorities right for the night that ensued. Some dear friends came over to enjoy fireside deck time, and we had a lot of fun. Since Karl is a chef, I’m on my own for much of the weekend, so having adult friends come over is a nice treat for me.
The kids were fine on Friday night. They had a little tea party, watched movies and roasted marshmallows, but the rain didn’t stop, and then Ella’s friend said, “I’m bored.”
“Ahhh,” I said. “There’s that word. Boredom is in your mind. What can you do to stop feeling that way?” She started reading a book.
I tell Ella and Archer in my own words, something like this:
“‘I’m bored’ is a useless thing to say. I mean, you live in a great, big, vast world that you’ve seen none percent of. Even the inside of your own mind is endless, it goes on forever, inwardly, do you understand? The fact that you’re alive is amazing, so you don’t get to say ‘I’m bored.’”
I haven’t been bored in a long time. I do remember feeling bored when I was a teenager and into my twenties, but now I suffer more from having so many ideas that I don’t know where to start, or feeling frustrated because I want to act on an idea, but there are kids needing my attention or laundry getting soaked on the clothesline.
I think boredom can come through when there is something you’d like to be doing, but you can’t, so everything feels boring. For example, Ella really wanted to make taffy and I said no, so she had a hard time finding anything else fun to do. When Sally said she was bored, I felt edgy. Like there was something I wasn’t doing, like I wished she understood or that I could teach her that boredom was in her mind.
I realize that living in the tiny house is actually harder than I think it is. It takes slowing down, clear communication and mutual respect. We’ve had the luxury of time to adapt to living in this way. But when Sally was thrown into living in the tiny house and not having the space to run around and be loud with her friends, she didn’t know what else to do, so she felt bored. It took her until late in the second day to settle in to reading a book, and then she read the whole thing.
When other people come to stay in the tiny house, they haven’t had the time to adjust and learn how we live in this space. It brings me back to those first months when we were figuring out how to share the space.
It’s a bit like dancing. If I’m in the kitchen doing dishes, then the kids know that’s my space, my stage. If they dangle their feet from their loft and kick me in the head, I won’t like it, so they adjust, slide back into their loft a bit, and keep their movie turned down. It’s hard to teach the dance in one or two days, but it can be learned with time.
I love sharing the tiny house and giving friends and family a taste of tiny living. Here are some quotes from visitors:
- “It feels a lot bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside.” -Lane, age 8
- “The longer I sit in the tiny house, the bigger it feels.” -Becky, my friend of 20+ years
- “This is a very tiny house, but it is very, very nice.” -James, age 7
- “It feels bigger in here than the pictures make it look.” -Ellen, my college buddy
- “We slept better here than anywhere else in America.”—German cousin, Thilo, who slept in a tent on our hillside with his family during his epic American exploration.
- “Wow, that’s a lot of games. I’m impressed at how much stuff you manage to get in here. It doesn’t even feel like it.” -Layla, age 10, said this when we were showing her all of the board games stored under the couch.
Tips for hosting houseguests in a tiny house:
- Schedule visits for a time of year when good weather is the norm. If it rains, play games and have movies available.
- Put up a tent and make beds with sleeping bags for guests who enjoy camping.
- Limit length of visit if possible. Overnight guests who leave the next day end up having the best experience because we can all adapt for 24 hours.
- Find a bed and breakfast nearby.
- Have a tiny house orientation—give a full tour of where everything is and explain tricks and techniques for moving around the house.
- “When we work in the kitchen, we try to keep our belly touching the counter edge, so someone can walk behind us to the bathroom or kids’ loft.”
- “When I’m at the kitchen sink, I need all feet pulled up into the loft.”
- “If the bathroom door is closed, then someone is in there.”
- “Please put your shoes in the shoe bench when you come in.”
- “This cabinet space is for your things.”
What’s the hardest thing about living in your house? What has it taught you?
Excerpt from: Coming Home – Letters from a Tiny House