Four Kids In One Room: A (sort of) Minimalist Approach

One of the questions I get asked a lot about raising four kids in an old farm house is: “how do you fit ALL their stuff?”.  We only have 3 closets (one of which is the kitchen pantry!) and two bedrooms (though they are larger than your average bedroom).  It’s not the conventional set up for a family with four (and maybe more) kids.  But, I have gotten a lot of inspiration from looking into the past.  We know that the family who lived in our home from the 1910s into the 1950s had five children.  The house wasn’t any bigger for them, and they obviously managed!

There are two answers to this question.  The first is pretty common sense: we limit the amount of stuff they have. If they don’t have it, we don’t have to store it.  The second is: We get pretty creative about storage and furniture.  A unique lifestyle means non-conventional thinking when it comes to storage and decorating!

So.  Here are some of the things that have worked well for us when it comes to have three (soon to be four, JJ will be moving across the hall soon!) little girls in one bedroom.

1. Clothes, Clothes, Clothes.  Keep It Simple and Streamlined.

Kids clothes are CUTE.  And, boy, can we amass quite a collection of sparkly pants and pink shirts with four little ladies in our house.  The biggest key to keeping four mini-me’s in one room that isn’t a complete disaster is to limit the number of items they have.  Each girl keeps no more than 10 shirts (that’s summer AND winter), 5 or 6 pairs of pants, and 2 or 3 skirts.  They each have a heavy winter coat and a light jacket.  One or two cardigans/dress sweaters, a few pairs of tights and jammies, and enough undies and socks for a week.

Dresses are a different story.  I need to work on those!  Our girls LOVE dresses.  When we go through clothes to give away extra items, they very easily choose what they want to keep and get rid of.  But not with dresses.  So, we probably have 7  or 8 dresses each, and it probably should be half that!

2. We said “No” To A Chest of Drawers

I HATE dressers.  To me they feel like a terrible accident waiting to happen with little kids!  And they are so tall that the kids really can’t get things or put things away for themselves until they are 5 or 6, even though mentally they are capable of helping by 2 or 3.  So this year I got rid of our last dresser.  Sam and I don’t use one (we have hanging clothes and one under the bed bin for things that can’t be hung), and now I have traded the girls’ in for lightweight cube storage.

I LOVE it.  It fits in their closet, so less furniture in their room.  It is very light weight, so if someone were to topple it over, no one would get squished.  The boxes aren’t attached (like a drawer would be) so if someone pulls too hard the box comes out independently and safely.  Everything is within arms reach of a toddler.  And I realize that it sounds like a nightmare…but it’s not.  After a week or two of consistent discipline everyone understood that taking the clothes out and throwing them around the room was A)not allowed and B) just meant they had to put everything back on their own.  And that’s no fun!

And the biggest bonus is that everyone can now put away their own clothes!  I fold everything and then hand them off to be taken upstairs and put away.  Right now we only have 8 cubes, so JJ’s clothes are in a bin in my room.  I plan to buy 4 more cubes and that will allow everyone to have 3 storage boxes: 1 for pants/skirts, 1 for shirts, and 1 for jammies.  I keep undies/tights/socks in small bins on top and dresses are hung up in the closet.

ABOVE: The girls share one closet that holds all of their clothes and shoes (in bins on the floor). If it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t stay!  BELOW: I hang belts, bibs, and my baby carrier on hooks outside the closet for easy access.


3. Bed Sharing

We do not have four beds in the room right now.  Really, for little guys, they don’t need (or really want!) their own beds.  Right now we have a twin bed with a twin trundle underneath.   The idea is for Myka to sleep on top, and Ivy and Annie to share the trundle.  This happens about 50% of the time….the rest of the time they all want to sleep together on Myka’s bed.  Even when we had three beds in the room, they didn’t all want to sleep separately, so it was a waste of space!

As they get older, we plan to replace the trundle with bunk beds along the wall.  Eventually, there will be two sets of bunk beds in the room…and there is space for them.  Especially since we don’t have chest of drawers.  Right now, though, they don’t need them.  Ivy would probably use a top bunk to practice flying acrobatics anyway so we’re probably safer with a trundle ;-).  Though there have been a few times that the trundle has been used as a sled to slide across the floor, so if I could do it all again I would definitely buy a bed with an ATTACHED trundle!

The twin bed with a twin trundle. The trundle can be pushed away for more room to play!  We purchased this trundle on Amazon.  The girls love that it’s “pretty” and I love that it was, inexpensive, easy to put together, and seems pretty sturdy! You can find it here:

4. Toys

We’re pretty low tech when it comes to toy storage.  We have a big Rubbermaid bin.  They can keep as many toys in their room that will fit in the bin.  This makes clean up easy.  When it’s time to clean their room in the morning, they just toss toys in the one big bin and they are done!  When we get to the point that not everything fits in the bin, then it’s time to put them downstairs in the playroom toy box (toys tend to migrate upstairs).  If it doesn’t fit downstairs either then it’s time to get rid of some toys!

Not having many closets means  we don’t have many places to hide and squirrel away toys.  It keeps us pretty honest about what is in the house!

Our super simple toy box!

5. Decorations

One day, we plan on making the girls’ room into a super pink girly girl princess room of their dreams.  But probably not for at least another six months!  One thing I’ve learned about kids under 5 is that nice things don’t stay nice.  They are like bulls in a china shop when they are little!  It’s just not worth the time (and stress) to make things all perfect and pretty and then watch the walls get banged up, curtains destroyed and yanked on, and so forth.  Now that Myka is almost 6 and Ivy is 4, things are really starting to turn around.  They are starting to appreciate what they have and are also actively discouraging Annie from breaking and ruining things.  So, soon I’ll glam their room up for them.  But not for a little bit longer!

So that’s how we have space for four girls in one room!  And we hope that with the systems we have in place they will be able to grow and still fit in there for quite a while.  Do you have any neat hacks for making one room work for multiple children?