Tiny Living: Discussing Needs and Wants with my Kids

We’ve been watching Tiny House Nation episodes on YouTube a lot nowadays.  A few weeks ago, Jay and I agreed to move our family of five to a tiny apartment near where we live now and we’ve been watching Tiny House Nation for ideas on custom-made furniture and how to maximize space without sacrificing comfort and a bit of style.

Anyway, the kids are on board the plan and they’ve been watching the show with us which I thought was a great way to prepare them for tiny living. We’ve lived in this house for more than two years and there’s going to be a huge adjustment in terms of space.

tiny-house
This morning, my 10-year old asked me, “Mom, why do some people who live in big houses think big houses are not necessary?” He was referring to the people who opted for tiny houses over their big houses. You see, Pablo loves living in big houses and hopes to own one in the future, a dream we fully support.

We’ve been trying to teach him how to manage his money responsibly and for the past two years, none of our efforts seemed to be paying off. He’s always been wanting to spend all of the money he earns from doing certain tasks on toys.  I consider this question of his  a huge breakthrough. He’s paying attention which means it’s a great opportunity for me to teach him.

(Read: Teaching Kids to Manage Their Money)

So to answer his question, I talked to him about the basic things a person needs to live – three meals a day, clothes to wear, shoes to protect the feet, water to drink and to bathe and a house to sleep in.

Then I threw a few questions at him:

“Do you need McDonald’s or Jollibee?”

“Do you need branded clothes?”

“Do you need 100 shoes?”

“Do you need juice or Iced tea?”

“Do you need a swimming pool in the yard?”

“Do we really need a television set Or cable connection?”

Do we need to have a big house to sleep in?

To all of which he answered “no.”

Then we started talking about  eating the right food with balanced nutrients, how having nice clothes is wonderful but as long as our clothes are clean and presentable, they should be good enough for us, how we only need a pair or two of good, sturdy shoes, and why electricity is a need.

We also talked about books and how reading and educating ourselves constantly is also important.

But that apart from those, the rest may just be wants that we can do without or wait patiently to have.

We talked about being content and thankful that God is providing for everything that we need, and still surprises us with a bit of extras along the way.

Sensing that he’s concerned about not being able to invite friends over, I brought up the topic about still being able to open our house to friends who want to visit. “Really??” He asked.

I shared with him something that a friend of mine, Lorrie Battung of Pink Teacup, taught me years ago when I was a newlywed anxious about how our little apartment would appear to friends coming over. She said that it doesn’t matter how big or small your house is, or how nice or humble it looks. What’s important is your openness and willingness to receive people into your home and into your family. 

My son’s face lit up and he smiled.

Before we wrapped up the topic, just to make sure he understood the concept of needs versus wants, I mentioned a few things for him to classify. It was a good discussion and I’m glad we had it. It gives me hope that he’s not going to make the same mistakes Jay and I made when we were younger.

And all this time, my 6-year old was listening in. I hope he absorbed it too. I honestly think that this coming move (we’re moving on Wednesday!) will be good for all of us.

There’s more to tell, really, and I’ll blog about it soon. For the meantime….here’s to tiny living and praising God for his provisions!

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” 1 Timothy 6-8.

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have,because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” Hebrews 13:5.

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27 Comments

  1. I love this post, May! 🙂 You’re really my idol in parenting! I hope I’m that calm when I talk to my boys! hehe 🙂

    Anyway, “God is providing for everything that we need, and still surprises us with a bit of extras along the way,” #notetoself

    I love you and your family!

    1. Awww…Millie, we love you too and your family! We really need to have that Christmas get-together along with Janice’s family this December.

      And OMG about the “calm”, believe me, it’s still a journey to yelling freedom I’m traversing, haha. But by the grace of God, we’re getting there.

  2. So nice to see that the whole family is so willing to learn together. :-). I remember what I told myself after we moved into a much tinier home: if I’m embarrassed to invite friends to my home, I don’t need a new house, I need new friends. 🙂

  3. My daughter and I love Tiny House Nation too (and the FYI shows). It’s actually one of a dream to have a multipurpose living space. I do interior design so it’s really a fancy to have those custom-built furniture. The only problem is the house you’re going to have the structure as. It’s a tough choice to search for the final choice. Glad you made the decision! Looking forward to a post of your interior!

    It made me smile to read this blog. What great parenting you teach to your children and I hope to have the same talk with my girl when she’s much older.

    Iris @ Earth Love Skin

  4. The idea of earning while finishing tasks is great. I really should visit your blog more often. I have a four year old son and I’m sure I’ll learn a lot on parenting from you ^-^

    1. Haha, the secret to it is really to spend more time outdoors and maximise your yard..I think?

      We won’t have a yard on this one, but we do have a roof deck and the entire third floor all to ourselves. 🙂

  5. I love tiny living! Dream ko yun May. Ngayon we have a small living space pero gusto ko yung maayos naman itsura yung di nakakahiya sa bisita. I like that you teach your kids the meaning of needs and wants kahit bata dapat alam na nila yan. 🙂

    1. That’s one of the things that my friend Lorrie taught me – wala naman pupuna ng bahay mo. Not unless they’re not good people. 😉

  6. Kami naman, galing sa tiny living, we used to live in a condo just about 26sqm if I remember it correctly. I loved it but my husband wanted a bigger space. I agreed na rin, since we have a household help pa. I love watching tiny living, too, the space saving ideas are amazing.

    1. Yeah, I understand why your husband would want it bigger. Tiny living in a building isn’t very ideal. As for me and Jay, we know this isn’t permanent, which is expected, we’re only renting out. But we do want to go tiny living in a big property as we would like to have our meals outdoors more and have a lot of open space for the kids to play ball and all that. So yeah, this isn’t it yet. 🙂

  7. The house we’re buying is tiny too! There are good things that come with tiny living, such as making do with what you have instead of always hoarding (which is what I tend to do in a bigger house).

    1. OMG yes! I can’t believe how much stuff we had until today when neighbors came to get all that we’re getting rid of.

  8. When I was little, nagtatampo ako when I don’t get what I want (normal kid response). What’s good about growing up is when we realize that our parents are doing their best for us, they just can’t afford to buy all of it. I’m sure one day I’ll have these talks with my son too about needs and wants and I will remember your post when that happens. Indeed, Godliness with contentment is our great gain!

  9. We live in a tiny apartment too! The kids don’t mind as they are used to it. Love how you handled the questions, May!
    I would love to get rid of stuff that are making our house smaller para minimalist living na talaga. Lesser stress and cleaning pa sana! But ang hirap ha, I have this hoarding tendency kse due to “what if we will need it in the future?” LOL

    1. Haha! Yeah, it can get really hard to let go. Pag ganyan, I resort to the principle of sowing and reaping. That’s why instead of selling our things, we gave them all away to bless those who need them at the moment. By doing so, we submit ourselves to entrusting our needs to God that he will provide the things we need when we need them. 🙂

      “and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” 2 Corinthians 9: 6b-7.

  10. I love your post! We also want to teach our little girl the value of hard work and saving and I will definitely keep your post in mind by the time that she is already aware of things. 🙂

  11. We’re tiny living too! But it doesn’t matter. I love friends coming over our house and we make them feel that they are a part of it.. Regardless of the size of your house, your guests will remember how they were treated nicely and with hospitality tlaga. I enjoyed reading your post Mommy! Good luck on Wednesday! 🙂

  12. Such an inspiring post. Thank mommy! We still have to discuss contentment and I can use this. Last weekend, we had to tell our 4yo to use the old car toys since we don’t have money to buy him a new one. He didn’t listen and insisted on buying a new one. It was a long negotiation.

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