Why Raising Kids in a Condo Works

Jul 24, 2017


The spawn looks up at me and nods her noggin so rigorously that her pigtails fly around like elephant ears. Stroller stuffed with water toys, armed with sunscreen, our three-year-old leads the walk to our local splash pad. On the way there, I’ll buy a cup of joe from my favourite coffee shop, my husband will pick up focaccia bread from the little Italian bakery around the corner, and we’ll happily munch on our grub under the swaying trees by the splash pad while our daughter soaks up water and the sun.

This is our little condo life in Ottawa’s Little Italy. And it’s awesome.

For most of my daughter’s three-year life, we have lived in a two-bedroom condominium. While people question our decision to raise a child in a luxury-sized chicken coop, there are reasons why we chose this life. I see my workplace from our living room window. My daughter’s daycare is a five-minute walk. My husband’s work is a ten minute drive. Life has been simple, oh so simple.

Tell me more, you say?

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Firstly, commuting is a hustle. Commuting is the act of sitting in a confined place, losing your time, energy and patience through the exhaust fumes of a car. Since our workday has almost no commuting involved, our daughter spends limited time in daycare and we have plenty of quality time with her before bedtime. Minimum transportation costs translate into savings that we spend on meaningful experiences like vacations, museum memberships and extracurricular activities for our child.

Moreover, less time commuting also means more time cooking. Before the spawn, frozen pizza and 3-minute ramen noodles were all the rage in our household. Now I cook real food, and condo living has helped me with this cause significantly. I get home early enough to be able to cook a fresh meal every day, from scratch, from fresh ingredients I buy, and without any ingredients on the label that I can’t pronounce.

Condo living is all about proximity and access. My husband and I used to feel about physical activity the way most people do about filing their taxes. However, downtown living has encouraged us to walk or bike to the Rideau Canal, nearby parks, museums, food festivals and other cultural events that go on around the year in downtown. With Spawn stuffed in her stroller or bike seat, and the world is our oyster.

A child’s happiness and wellbeing is not directly proportional to the square footage of her home.

Additionally, limited space breathes fulfillment. Since I have a small home, I am not trying to fill it with excess. In a world that is always chasing more, it is a content feeling to have just enough, just right. The bigger the space, the more every corner craves to be filled and fulfilled. Instead, we purchase multipurpose products to reduce clutter and have significantly improved our organizational skills. And cleaning is a walk in the park — a very short walk, in a very small park.

What’s more is that my daughter is learning about opportunity cost. She has to choose what she can bring home: the toy kitchen or the toy tent. If she doesn’t play enough with a big item, we sell or donate it instead of hoarding it. We have a purposeful and minimalist approach to our possessions and it is a way of life we are passing down to our spawn.

Our condo life may not be permanent and a move to the ‘burbs may become inevitable at some point. But til then, the spawn is living proof that a child’s happiness and well-being is not directly proportional to the square footage of her home.

Article Author Yumna Siddiqui-Khan
Yumna Siddiqui-Khan

Read more from Yumna here.

Yumna Siddiqui-Khan is an accountant by day, and writer and amateur photographer by night. A Toronto native, she now resides in Ottawa with her spouse and their 3-year-old spawn. Her photography, musings on life and the lessons learned through parenting can be found at the Institution of Parenthood.

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