Saturday, March 24, 2012

Big House Small House

Our family has been blessed and we are fortunate to be able to afford a small condominium in St. George, Utah where we particularly enjoy vacationing during the cold winters in Springville. During our three trips to St. George over the past three months, my wife, Alice, and I have noticed some interesting things regarding our family's interaction with each other. Our home in Springville is 6,000 square feet, and our condo is 1,100 square feet. In our condo, we find ourselves in the same room with our children much more often, and as a result, have much more opportunity to positively interact with them. We find ourselves playing more games together or even viewing television programs of common interest more often. In our big house with multiple televisions, our family frequently becomes divided as one or more family members choose to watch different programming in separate rooms. We also noticed that with the much shorter distances from bedrooms to kitchens, to bathrooms, etc., the time it takes to get our family ready for church on Sunday is considerably less in the condo, and again, we interact more in the process.

Of course, there are things about our big house that we enjoy, but when we spend time together as a family in our small house, I find myself wishing that life was simpler. During my childhood, there were far fewer societal expectations of children and parents, and considerably more opportunities for entire families to engage in activities of common interest. With softball, baseball, basketball, tennis, piano, gymnastics, horse riding therapy, and all of the other activities our children engage in, there is simply not enough time for as much family interaction as there should be. The solution seems simple, right? You just need to reduce the number of activities that kids are involved in. However, the simple solution is easier said than done. When children see their friends engaging in various extracurricular activities, they often want to do so themselves, and frequently are saddened if they cannot. While I do not believe it is wise for a parent to allow their children to participate in one or more activities just because the Jones's kids are doing so, I also do not believe it healthy to set children up to not develop some skill and talents in activities that their friends are doing. I also see considerable value in facilitating children in striving to develop skills and working to improve them. It just all takes time and inevitably results in a trade-off of time that could be spent together as a family.

With the numerous trade-offs of time, there is some appeal to raising children in a small house because of the opportunity to maximize the family free time by turning it into family together time. We previously made choices and built a bigger house which we do love, and are well into the process of raising our kids. But if I had a "do-over," I may seriously consider raising my children in a small house.

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