My husband (Andrew), son (Paiute, 20), daughter (Terra, 17) and I all live on 5 acres in the beautiful hillsides of Ashland, OR. Our primary residence is “hOMe”, our 207sf (+110sf in lofts) modern tiny house on wheels. In hOMe we cook meals together, eat, hang out, play games, and watch movies. Terra does most of her homework in here and our bathroom is the only one on the property. Further, Andrew and I are both self employed and work from hOMe. All of this to say that all four of us use our tiny house extensively throughout the day.
A lot of families feel limited in their ability to live tiny because they have kids. What is being shown though through various examples is that families can indeed live happy and healthy lives in tiny houses. Many young families have embarked on the tiny lifestyle with their pre-teen kids and are appreciating the extra time they can all now spend together. That said, one question we receive a lot is: “How can I live tiny with my teens?”
Living tiny with teens poses a special challenge whether one is living tiny or not. Developmental changes during this time come at warp speed and sometimes it can be challenging to go along for this ride. It is also during this time that they begin to individuate and land into their adult personalities. Most teens require their own space and privacy through this process and thus, the option of tiny house living is complicated.
Our personal solution to living tiny with teens was to create separate spaces for each of them. For Paiute, we built a 10’x16’ treehouse and for Terra, a 10’x12’ “Lookout” cabin, both of which are just steps from hOMe. This solution of having separate sleeping and hang out space for each child has worked incredibly well for all of us.
Paiute is passionate about music and loves to compose his own pieces. His treehouse is decked out with all his mixing boards, instruments, and computer and often his volume level is set on high. Though we truly love the music he creates and listens to, it is rather nice to not have to listen to it from within the house all the time! His treehouse is large enough to accommodate visiting friends and also for him to have one or two buddies spend the night. Having a treehouse has been a dream of his since he was about four so finally having that dream come true has been special for him and for us. It’s safe to say that he loves it.
Terra also loves music and plays guitar. Her cabin has enough space for her desk, a small closet, a queen sized bed with tons of storage below, and boasts an enormous window that overlooks a beautiful view of an oak grove. She spends most of her time in hOMe but prefers to sleep in her cabin. She also likes to go over there to learn new guitar songs, create art, read a book or do crosswords in total peace and quiet.
Both Paiute and Terra know that they are welcome to come and sleep in hOMe any time that they want. Our secondary loft has a queen mattress on it and sometimes one of them does come over for the night, especially if they are sick. For the vast majority of the time though, the kids prefer to sleep in their own spaces.
We should mention that we are a very close family and that we really trust our kids to make good decisions. We openly communicate with each other and both of them come to us when they are being challenged by something intense. We have learned over the years that we can trust them and that they are really, really good kids. Our decision to create separate sleeping spaces for each of them was possible because of this relationship. Our decision was also possible because we all genuinely enjoy spending time together. If we had teens that we couldn’t trust or that didn’t want anything to do with us (and would rather just hide out in their own space all day), we wouldn’t even have considered our set up.
Living tiny with teens can be challenging but it is also possible as we are experiencing. I even think that with the right family and the right teen, a family of three could live full time in a tiny house. For us personally, we have all been extremely happy with our set up and two years in to living this way, we have no complaints.
You can see some more photos of the kids’ places in this gallery HERE.