How to survive the winter in 700 sq ft with two adults, a child, and a large dog (without completely losing your shit)

Last spring we got seepage into the basement that resulted in life forms spawning and rising up to kill us. We had the whole thing ripped out last October, and then we had to wait for insurance to pay us back so that we could rebuild.

So we waited.

And waited.

All winter.

It was…a really long winter. Our house is only 700 square feet, and we have two grown adults, one four-year-old and all his accoutrements, and a 70 lb dog. It gets as cold here in Saskatchewan as you would think it would, so going outside is not really an option most of the time. Losing exactly half of our functional space (and cramming all of our stuff into the other half) was a bit of a strain. We’re just starting to rebuild now, but at least we’ve been able to go outside for a while, and hopefully we’ll have a functional basement before September.

We survived!

(We’re totally ready for the Zombie Apocalypse. I’m sure it would be less stressful.)

So if you ever find yourself in a similar convoluted situation, I have a few tips on how to retain your sanity.2012-07-06 19

1. Be a basket case.

Baskets make all your crap look pretty. I have baskets for hats, mitts, toys, magazines, DVDs, workout equipment, sewing supplies, old bills, you name it. You don’t have to stack things neatly or organize them, you just have to cram them into a basket and it looks WAY better.

(That one on the bottom is getting a little full, and threatening the aesthetic. Whatever.)

2. Sweeeeeeeeeeep!

Or vacuum, or whatever. For some reason clean floors make the whole place look bigger. This might not affect other people as much, but this dog sheds at least two other small dogs a day. I couldn’t figure out how she could eat so much and not get fat, but she’s putting all of her energy into hair production.

Further to this: if you have hardwood floors, you can just open a can of that wax stuff and your brain is fooled into thinking it looks clean because it smells clean. At least for a little while.

3. Binge and purge.

Do you need that? Are you sure? Have you used it in the last 60 days? No? FUCKING GET RID OF IT. Seriously, I got rid of so much stuff, quite a lot of it belonging to the four year old, and nobody noticed. Even I barely noticed a dent. Someone else could use it, or it could be recycled, so you can even feel virtuous at the same time. Just…get it out of your house. Consider it a step towards enlightenment.

4. Go bi-level.

Big shelves with small things on them are stupid. I divided up all of my available real estate with little mini shelves, so this shit isn’t all over my (fairly limited) counter space. I applied this theory in all closets, too.

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5. Let yourself completely lose your shit sometimes anyway.

Yeah, sometimes you just have to. I got a little twitchy and stabby despite all of my organizational efforts. I banished Alfred and the kid once or twice to go live with the inlaws for the weekend, so I could clean and purge and just feel like there was more space, in peace. They lived. You’ll live too.


Soon I will have all these clever tricks AND my basement back. Whatever will I do with all my space?

(End up buying a bigger house right away, probably.)