Thursday, October 11, 2012

Downsizing into an Amish dawdyhaus, trying to live plain and simple.

The Amish have helped us remodel and add on to our little farmhouse for several years. They questioned why we were adding on, since our kids were grown. “They’re never leaving,” we replied. “Four young adults in their 20s with no spouses and not much hope.”

Well, fast forward to today. Yes, I believe God has a sense of humor, because we’re having our third wedding in 2 weeks and another in June. So, all four of our kids will have gotten married in three years.

So, we have a big house for just Tim and me. I have to say, we love it. But as I was writing Knit Together: Amish Knitting Novel, that is very semiautobiographical, we downsize, like Ginny and James. Well, we just did too, and moved into our “dawdyhaus or grandparent house.

The Amish take care of their aging parents in small houses either attached to the main house or built separately. They are adorable, plain and simple. Tim and I are also fascinated with the Tiny House Movement, where people are living in 300 square feet. It seems rather liberating and cozy.

Back to our story. When Tim and I went to a fantastic B&B last fall, a plan started to evolve in our minds. They have a common room, with couches and tables, and then the kitchen which was self-serve, and bedrooms. Why don’t we do this with our son and daughter-in-law? We’d have built in housecleaners. (We call them Mr. & Mrs. Clean) I was so sick of cleaning a big old farmhouse, and since the house isn’t an open floor plan and very long, we could section things off.

We’ll we did it. Tim and I now have four rooms: bedroom, living room, little “parlor” room, bath and laundry. Our son and wife have the rest of the house, and we have a middle room we share in common, that we call The Commons. We share the kitchen but eat in different areas, needing space and well defined boundaries. Tim and I eat in a little sunroom off the kitchen, and they eat in The Commons.

I recently saw on YouTube a plan for multigenerational living. Contractors are having a hard time selling McMansions, so they’re offering houses for three generations! The reasons customers are choosing to purchase are built-in babysitters and college age kids living at home so they can commute to college, making it affordable.

Our reasons for living in a little dawdyhaus are that our kids were raised to not be in debt. My son and wife can save money and pay cash for a home in a few years. When they leave, we can let another one of our kids take their place or help a family in need. We also like the coziness of it all.

I feel like I live in a B&B every day, now. Mr. and Mrs. Clean keep the kitchen and The Commons sparkling clean, and you hear muffled noise and laughter. Why laughter and joy? My daughter-in-law is having a baby girl in four weeks…and this little girl will have a built in babysitter ;)
A cute little dawdyhaus in Smicksburg, PA.

We have the right side (we deserve the new addition). Little sunroom on left is our comfy cozy eating area.
The rest is for son and his wife...and new baby on the way ;)


  1. We are hoping to work out something similar to this with our kids! :)

  2. Dena,
    My advice is to make the boundaries like the Berlin Wall...if you want them to come down, easier than putting up after stife and bickering. My son and DIL thought we'd eat together. Tim We have a table for 2 and no more in the sunroom. ;)

  3. What a wonderful idea. Wish I had thought to do this when my kids were younger and me too. This would be so hadny for everyone.

  4. I have thought of the same sort of thing for my family as I have a couple of adult children with disabilities and thought it would be great to be in the 'same' house but with more privacy for us all (and to help their independence).

  5. Thanks for sharing.We are already in a small house.I can't believe we raised five children in our little bungalow.We can downsize on things but not to much more on space.But your idea is so great,especially for people with bigger homes.Thanks for sharing...