Five tips for setting up the children’s playroom space
It’s my idea of heaven to have a separate playroom for the children’s toys but unfortunately, it’s not always possible. Many of us simply don’t have the space. When I ran Moondew playgroup from home, my loungeroom became a pseudo-kindergarten class, with toys lining the shelves that sat strategically around the room, and our two couches stuck in the middle. But while it worked for playgroup, and I loved that Ned had ready access to these beautiful things and could play within sight for the rest of the week, I sometimes felt a bit miffed (yes, by my own doing) that my personal home space was not necessarily a place of relaxation or a child-free zone. (We all need a child-free zone!)
But I’ve discovered there are a few things you can do to have a happy co-habitation. Here are five things I try to do.
1. Setting up the children’s playroom can be as simple as designating just one corner of the shared space and creating a boundary around it so there is a defined outer limit for toys. A boundary can be created by setting up a small children’s tent in one corner (zip it up when it is not being used to hide the toys away in a second) or hang a 12-metre long piece of your favourite colourful material (a dip-dyed rainbow silk is lovely, but so is velvet/quasi-velvet, or pale-coloured cheesecloth or muslin) by attaching one curtain ring or an embroidery hoop to a screw in the ceiling and draping the material through the large hole. The ends of the material can be hung over the backs of two chairs, or tied off with a ribbon and pinned to the wall behind. The fall of the material creates a cosy den or home corner space. A mosquito net or layers of pretty material sewn onto a large hoop (as above in the top photo) can work in a similar way.
2. Store their toys in opaque containers. In the past I’ve used lovely baskets in all different shapes and sizes (sustainable as they are mostly recycled from the op shop too) but when I’m sharing the space, I want uniformity and streamlining to create the illusion of calm and peacefulness. Ikea have a range of plastic containers with inserts that have a carry handle. You can buy both pieces for less than $10. I love these as the children and I can carry things from room to room when they want to play in their rooms and the containers store their toys out of sight when necessary.
3. Invest in an expedit shelving unit if you don’t already have one! Without wanting to sound like the Ikea fanatic that I am, these cube bookshelves come in a variety of colours and cost less today ($139!) than they did a few years ago due to the wonderful design team finding ways to lower cost by using more efficient materials and packing them differently for transport. My opaque boxes fit into the cubes perfectly so in the past, I’ve used the bottom two rows for toys, and the top two rows for my books and treasures. More happy cohabitation!
4. Sort their toys into similar groupings. One box for lego, one box for matchbox cars, one box for dolls clothes, one shelf for tea-set stuff. Order is magnificent and easy to manage for you and the little ones. And think ‘beauty’. If you are not a fan of a particular toy, send it back to the child’s own space! Their entire collection of toys and gadgets does not have to be in your space. Stick to just a select few. Rotate as necessary. Don’t allow their toys to take over…I’ve learned that this is the fast track to grumpy mama.
5. Tidy up before bed. This is a must in our house and keeps me sane. Before Ned retires at night, we do a round-up and tidy-up of his things, and Mama’s paperwork too. Back into their homes the toys go… everything has a place, a place for everything. If something doesn’t have a home, we make one. If I can’t make one, I pop it into the big bag in the cupboard that eats up all the random goodies. (Once this bag is full, off to the op shop it goes.)
What is your favourite tip for setting up the playroom?
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