The common idea Singaporean couples have is more kids mean bigger houses, but that idea is a recent development. it used to be the case when Singaporean couples had more than 3 children, sometimes as many as 10, they would squeeze into small HDB flats.
We certainly did not expect to expand our family so quickly so it caught us off-guard that we would have to live with four children in such a small space. And our current flat was passed on to us by my husband’s parents, who passed away, so its also not new and not fitted for children. My husband and I have had to do major updates to all the rooms to make the space adjust to our infants and toddler, and its been a slow but continuous update. We should have really done a major renovation overhaul but we decided to buy a new home (also a small 3-room HDB which we bought with the idea that we would have 2 kids) and we are waiting to move there next year.
In the meantime, while we wait for the construction of our new flat, we have been updating our home the last 3 years to make it conducive for babies and toddlers. Now our current home is actually meant for old folks! So first thing we had to do was clear all the things left to us by my husband’s parents, and that took a long time. Then we got rid of most furniture pieces because what we needed was lots and lots space for the kiddos to crawl, run and do cartwheels if they wanted to. So our living room consists of two big playmats, a children’s table, a toy cabinet, a book shelf and a sofa that unfolds into another bed.
We also did away with bed frames in our bedrooms. So our bedroom consist of a queen + single floor mattress. We all sleep on the floor because little kids are prone to moving a lot in their sleep and we were afraid of falls. And it was also a cheaper alternative for growing children so we don’t have to keep changing beds as they grow. We intend to continue this practice when we move into our home, but hopefully end co-sleeping, so the kids will sleep on the floor in their own room, and we have our own bedroom. We also have a large wardrobe and a large clothes cabinet and our diaper changing area that is perched on top of our cabinet thus doing away with a need for a separate furniture pieces just for diaper-changing. Our other bedroom is currently a study and TV room, which we hardly use.
So the living room and the bedroom has more than ample space for the children to play, crawl, dance, jump around, roll, and do whatever it is they do. My toddler also has a play kitchen where they play pretty often everyday. And the bookshelves allow them to access the storybooks at their own time and my toddler does spend quite a bit of time sitting there and reading. The babies now know how to remove the books and they enjoy biting the books, which at their age is their way of learning. The toy cabinet is also easily accessible to them if they wanted to take toy pieces out. And the whole set-up is such that its easy to put everything away after a long day of playing. We restrict all toys to the living room so they are not scattered all around the house.
We also make use of the living room walls to liven up the space. We don’t over-clutter it with visuals where it can look cluttered. Just enough for some colour.
We recently gated the kitchen to prevent the triplets from crawling in because they like to look for scraps of food to eat from the floor. Its also been easier for me to get cooking done without them crawling all around the kitchen.
So I think if you have a small space and too many kids like me, it is worth cutting down on big pieces of furniture to open up the space because kids need lots of room to move and play.