How I Manage Three Children In A Townhouse
How do I manage three children in a townhouse? I get asked this question a lot. I am lucky as I have found a townhouse that has quite a bit of room to move, it’s still squishy in comparison to a family home. I have been townhouse living for three years and I love it.
I have had moments where I wish I had some privacy as far as being so close to my neighbours, but then I realise – my kids are probably just as noisy. Actually, they are. Who am I kidding? We like to party and play games and we make no excuses.
I have three children who all share different strengths and weaknesses. My son’s strength is he doesn’t like to make a lot of mess. His weakness is he hates a lot of talking and random noises. My son has a post-cancer brain injury which has impacted his sensory and nervous system as well as other parts of his brain.
He is both a tech lover and an outdoor play fanatic. So it made sense he would need space – I gave him the garage and made the sacrifice of parking my car in the driveway. I purchased a futon with a mattress topper for him to sleep on. This way if hail ever comes we can slide his bed away and drive the car into the garage.
Converted Townhouse Garage
The whole project of his room cost around $100 over a 12 month period. Lined with Kmart mats and using second-hand cubes as storage space over time we have developed both a bedroom and a play area. It’s not “Instagram” worthy – it’s comfortable and it’s what most kids would dream of in a bedroom.
There is no wall separating what is the play are and what is his room. We have easily managed this by promoting sharing in our home and respect when he needs his space. So during the day if we all play a game on the mat he simply puts his headphones on if he would prefer to play his computer or watch TV.
If he genuinely needs space we take our game to another bedroom – it’s not an issue.
Townhouse Upstairs Bedrooms
The majority of ALL of the kid’s toys are kept on the play side of the converted garage.
This keeps my other two girls bedrooms simplistic. Both children have plain timber IKEA beds, a small TV and a few toys in each room. This keeps both bedrooms tidy and under control.
If you gain too much clutter in a townhouse your life spirals out of control. I have a small storage bay under the stairs. Anything that I do not use at least once a month is packed in there. Those without a storage bay could consider a small shed in the courtyard with airtight containers.
I made a decision two years ago to take the TV out of the loungeroom. I felt it took away time from our family. It would be turned on for the sake of having it on. This adds to the electricity bill and my mental state constantly hearing kids shows running when they should be playing – not stuck to a screen.
This has forced my children to play and be far more active when we are at home. Then later in the evening we either watch the TV in the play area together or we slink off for time out watching our own smaller tv’s in the bedrooms.
When guests come over we sit and chat without a television running. Because there isn’t one.
Currently, my dryer is stacked on my washing machine. On my dryer, the microwave is stacked as I value my kitchen space. You can purchase stacking trays from Ebay for your washer and dryer so they don’t wobble when they are being used. These are around $60 – 80. This saved mounting the dryer on the wall and having to use a step to put the clothing in.
When it rains there is enough room to stack a tall clothes airer in the laundry. I also have a balcony which fits another small airer on it. Between the laundry, a small outside patio and balcony it’s not necessary to use the dryer unless it’s an emergency or you have just run out of energy.
Townhouse Kitchen & Dining Area
My kitchen has a painful layout, lots of cupboards but most of them are very small. In the smaller high up cupboards, I keep all of the things my younger child shouldn’t be touching. Even if they don’t belong in the kitchen – This is the best place for them with young children.
Any fly spray or chemicals are kept high up. Things like sunscreen, mozzie spray are kept in separate containers which I can just slide out if I need to take them with me somewhere. I try to keep things as organised as possible and when it does become chaos, sit down and re-tidy it up.
Townhouse living with children requires a minimalistic approach if you want to preserve your quality of life. I have seen what happens when families become knee deep in clutter in a small living space – it can’t be mentally healthy and it would make everyday life challenging.
The kitchen has a broom cupboard which I have installed hooks in, this fits a large bin, the broom, mop and I can hang the school bags in here.
In the dining area at this stage, I have not opted for a dining table. This is temporary. I have a children’s table and chairs we often bring inside as I eat later than my kids. I sit with them while they eat or we eat outside in the summer.
Breakfast time they have the option of sitting at breakfast stools in the kitchen. This makes more room for reading and doing things like puzzles on the mats in the large space that has been kept vacant. (its not so vacant when the kids are home)
My Townhouse Bathrooms
I have a main bathroom and an ensuite. The main bathroom does not get used very often. My two younger children are both under 7 so I find it easier to shower them together in my ensuite. It’s a smaller space with less mess to be spread around.
I try to encourage my children to “pick a toilet” and use it. With most townhouses sporting 2.5 toilets children can often become a bit dunny spoilt, using every toilet in the house. Making more toilet mess than any mother ever wants to deal with.
I keep towels folded in a large square basket in my main bathroom so I’m not running to my linen cupboard all the time and it frees up space for my sheets. All of my makeup and personal items are in clear storage containers which were purchased cheaply from Kmart.
My Townhouse Office
I have been blessed with a big bedroom so my primary writing space is close to my balcony. I enjoy a breeze and the outside sun. The secondary computer which I have access to is in the converted garage which I can use anytime during the day.
Cable ties and clips are very cheap from most general stores. I have just purchased a new desk so have not begun clipping my cords away – but it cleans the whole area up and when things are tidy it gives the illusion of a bigger room, with more space.
Storage, Wardrobes & More
Clothing – All of our winter clothing goes into vacuum bags at the end of winter. I keep a couple of long pants and jumpers out for each of us. Living in Queensland we don’t need to worry about keeping a winter wardrobe for 3/4 of the year.
All of our shoes are kept in a large shoe tub from Ikea (with the exception of formal shoes) and as many items of clothing are hung up rather than folded to save on space.
Paperwork, Office Supplies – Long term paperwork that will never be used again but needs to be kept goes in filing and is kept in the top of my wardrobe. Short term paperwork that needs to be accessible at any time goes in filing baskets which slide under my bed. Daily paperwork is kept next to my desk in another basket. The key to keeping this under control is having everything clearly labelled.
Random Items, Books & Bits & Pieces
In every storage area/cube style shelf, I have my ornaments or a canvas box. These boxes contain anything that doesn’t belong. Scrapbooks for the kids to draw in and pencils are tucked away downstairs. Things like bike helmets and swimming gear are all in canvas boxes which are in view – but guests are not aware what’s inside them.
Bikes , Scooters & Skateboards
All of these fit in the converted garage. You can purchase equipment that hangs your bikes and scooters from the roof leaving more space for things on the floor. We use our bikes too often to have to hang them up and down. Having children in a townhouse doesn’t mean sacrificing big items, you just need smarter storage.
I am in the middle of fixing up our yard. We recently moved from one townhouse to another in the same complex. The new townhouse is much nicer inside but not a very nice yard – easily fixed – it will just take time. Not all townhouses have a backyard so it’s important to think about the location.
My children are getting older and will eventually outgrow such a small courtyard but the complex has a pool and several parks in walking distance. I also chose to be close to the town centre which has cinemas and an arcade – living in a townhouse almost forces your family to go and live your life.
Townhouse Living Has Taught Me Minimalism
Minimalism is a wonderful thing. Over time you become so sick of objects cluttering your life. When you get rid of them you realise the money spent, the time trying to keep things clean, it detracts from your life. You can successfully manage children in a townhouse with some lifestyle changes.
It also teaches your children that being entertained comes from your imagination and your actions. Having fun doesn’t require being materialistic. When Christmas comes around the kids have valuable suggestions of what they would like, because they are not used to having smaller cheaply made items purchased all of the time.
The rule of thumb with my kids is that MOST of the time only quality items make it through the door. This keeps things tidy, organised and awesome. You shouldn’t fear if you are faced with the choice of living with your children in a townhouse. Often it’s a lifestyle people want!
Townhouse Living Tip List
- Utilise Cube Storage Where You Can
- Consider Converting A Garage Space
- Use Canvas Boxes With Lids For Storage
- Pack away Winter clothing when not in use
- Declutter and throw away useless items
- Keep things labelled and packed in containers
- Use useless cupboard space for other things
- Keep shoes in a storage tub for easy access
- Consider stacking appliances with stacking products
- Utilize spare areas for hanging washing in emergencies
- Keep areas simplistic and bare for spending family time in
- Store paperwork away from sight if not needed short term
- Keep rosters and calendars for organisation
- Keep School Bags, Swimming Gear in easy access boxes
- Use cord clips and fixtures to keep appliances and computers tidy
- Consider closing one bathroom off from children i.e. Do not use the ensuite.
- If you only use it once every few months keep it packed away effectively