Our son, Troy, is only 6 months old now – so I’m sure the lessons I’ve learned this far will multiply in the coming months! But I wanted to take the time to share 3 big lessons I’ve learned this far from having a baby in a cabin.
Some parts of these lessons may be the same for all new moms – and other parts are unique to living in a cabin. Along with living in our cabin comes a few other characteristics: we live outside of a small mountain town (Jackson, WY) and our cabin can be considered a tiny house at 650 sqft. This presents a few unique situations when it comes to raising a baby 🙂
Here’s the 3 biggest lessons I’ve learned from raising a baby in a cabin:
1. Cabins are *surprisingly* ideal for raising babies in some ways.
We moved to our cabin while I was 7 months pregnant – and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous! Our cabin is one room (a downstairs + a loft) and I couldn’t wrap my head around how raising a baby in the space would work.
But what I learned over the first few months with our son was that in many ways the set up of our cabin (small size and all!) was ideal for a baby in a few ways:
- The compact space actually helped with keeping an eye on the baby: because the cabin has an open, one-room layout, I could always have an eye on my baby. And when he woke up hungry at night, I didn’t have to go far to feed him.
- The surroundings of the cabin helped in the recovery process after having a baby: we live outside of town, and from the cabin you can see a gorgeous view of the mountains. This was a huge motivator after Troy was born to get outside and to be active in the surrounding nature. The ease of getting outside, even for a little bit, helped my physical recovery and gave me a sense of relaxation with a newborn.
- Even though I was nervous about moving to the cabin at first, the nerves were replaced by the excitement of getting to raise our son here. The older our son gets, the more thankful I am for getting to make memories with him here. One of the main reason we moved here was to raise our son in this new environment, and as he gets older and begins to understand more, I’m reminded of that.
2. Cabins have unique challenges for raising babies.
Many aspects of our cabin turned out the be unexpectedly helpful when raising a baby, but a few others posed new challenges for us:
- Baby proofing a cabin is no easy feat: from the wood stove to the wrought iron staircase in the middle of the cabin, there’s lots of areas of the cabin that need heavy baby proofing! So far this has mostly meant keeping our son away from these areas, but as he gets mobile in the coming months I suspect we are going to need to get more creative 🙂 Stay tuned for how that goes…
- Temperature control had a steep learning curve: our cabin doesn’t have central A/C or heat, so learning to keep a constant temperature was a challenge at first (especially moving from Austin, where our thermostat easily controlled the temperature!). With a newborn, I was constantly checking the temperature to make sure he wasn’t too hot/cold. In the summer this meant opening the windows during the day and keeping up with some 40+ degree fluctuations. And in the winter, this has meant learning how to use the wood stove to keep a consistent temperature (still haven’t quite figured that one out!).
- Wildlife + weather at the cabin can be extreme: we love getting outside – playing in the yard of the cabin or walking around the neighborhood. But Jackson does get some extreme weather: the sun can be brutally strong in the summer and the snow piles high in the winter. The wildlife at the cabin is also extreme: there’s been moose and also elk in the yard multiple times this year! This means keeping an extra eye out when we do enjoy the outdoors. For example, when Troy was 3 months old we went for a walk in the neighborhood and almost walked past a moose hiding in some nearby trees!
3. Space is important – but MORE important is how you use it.
Babies come with A LOT of gear, and even if you have plenty of space, it’s easy to accumulate baby clutter. We started out with a small amount of space, but were able to use it in a way that didn’t feel cluttered.
- You need less than you think: at 650 sqft, every square foot in the cabin is valuable real estate. We thought hard about each baby item we brought into the cabin, and stuck only to the essentials. I tend to buy too many things, so for me this meant making a list of what I thought were ‘essentials’ and slicing it in half. Any additional items that I thought I would ‘need’ I told myself I could always buy later, but ended up not needing most of them.
- Non-traditional uses of space can be more effective: we had to think outside the box when fitting crib, changing table, and other baby items into the cabin. The cabin didn’t have a nursery, it didn’t even have a room (just a loft). We put things in ‘non-traditional’ spaces, like the crib in a nook of our living room and the changing table in the bathroom closet. Some of this took some trial-and-error to figure out the best places for space & function. And some of the spaces we created ended up working so well that we may never change them. We just built a nursery for Troy (he has his own room now!), but the changing table in the bathroom closet works so well we’re going to keep it there.
All in all, these lessons are unique to our family because we’re raising our son in a cabin. But they can also be applied to most new parents: figuring out how to use space, baby proof your home, adjusting to caring for a baby, etc. are common new parent lessons. Our cabin just gives a different backdrop to these lessons!