A few months back, Julio wrote that our daughters’ playroom was finished. Truthfully, it wasn’t quite finished – in fact, it still isn’t quite finished – but it’s usable, and that’s almost as good as finished, right?
Since that initial posting, we’ve let our older daughter Chloe have free reign of the playroom. The end result? TOTAL CHAOS! Toys, crayons, drawings, princess paraphernalia and Candy Land game pieces have littered nearly every surface. We’ve often found ourselves wondering why we spent so many months building a playroom when, clearly, Chloe would have been just as happy if we’d rented a dumpster, poured her belongings inside, and plunked her in with them.
Rather than admitting defeat and calling the dumpster company, we tried thinking of alternate methods of dealing with the growing mess.
Chloe attends a Montessori preschool where she is only allowed to play with one item at a time. Before she can move on to another item (or in Montessori lingo “job”) she has to return the first item to its designated spot. We a now enforcing a similar rule in the playroom. To make things simple, everything has a designated bin. Games, puzzles and art supplies go in baskets on the built-in bookshelves (which Julio finished a few weeks ago. Hooray!) Stuffed animals and toys go in their own baskets and bins. Books go on the free-standing bookshelves across from the stairs. And nothing new comes out of its basket, or down from its shelf, until everything else is put away.
(It remains to be seen if Chloe will follow the new rules. Past experience suggests that compliance is probably a pipe dream.)
While, at least in theory, the new baskets and bins will contain the toys and games, we faced another challenge. Most afternoons, Chloe comes home from preschool toting mounds of paper (drawings, worksheets, collages, etc.) She’s proud of her work and, understandably, wants to display it. We just want to keep it off the floor (and out of her baby sister’s mouth.) We found a quick and inexpensive solution at IKEA.
IKEA’s Dignitet curtain rod is basically a length of wire suspended between two small metal posts:
Curtains hang from the wire via tiny dangling clips. These little clips also happen to do a great job of displaying a preschooler’s art collection:
We considered hanging a second wire below the first one to make the wall appear a bit more balanced, but now that Ginger is crawling, we figure anything hanging that low would be way too tempting for her. With the current installation, Chloe’s drawings and worksheets stay safely out of her baby sister’s reach (and aforementioned mouth.)
With the larger drawings hanging neatly on the wall, all we had left to worry about were Chloe’s smaller treasures. We constantly seem to find postcards, birthday party invitations and little construction paper cutouts on the playroom floor, so we decided to see how a French memo board might do at keeping smaller bits of paper contained.
Chloe has an odd fascination with the Eiffel Tower, so she was completely thrilled when we found this little number on eBay:
It arrived about a week ago and we have since begun covering it with postcards and small school projects:
To further stem the tide of clutter, we’re considering adding either a toy box/storage bench or second freestanding shelving unit. We also still plan to hang a few things on those bare green walls, but at this point, the playroom is the most finished space in our house. It’s also the most organized. (For the time being anyway.) It’s a nice feeling having one almost-finished space. And best of all, now, whether Chloe actually adheres to the new playroom rules or not, we have photographic proof that for one sweet yet brief moment in time, the playroom floor was actually visible.