Once upon a time we lived in a 2-bedroom apartment. That arrangement was fine for a while, until we discovered that our family of three would soon have an additional member. There was no place to put the crib, and our living room was already overrun by toys.
Daddy was always stepping on some trinket or block or doll that he may have previously put away but somehow would magically find itself on the floor again moments later.
No matter how neat or clean we tried to be (and believe me we tried! Okay okay, to my husband’s credit — since I was too pregnant to do much of anything, HE tried ;)), just the amount of things out at any given time made the apartment feel messy all the time.
Jamie needed space for her things too, and we didn’t have room to add another drawer fixture in the apartment, lest we wanted to be considered for an episode of Hoarders Buried Alive. Actually I think the last straw for my husband was when one day he opened his supposed “socks and undies” drawer to find that he only had half the space left. The other half had to hold MY underwear.
“Hu-whaaaa. What happened to my drawer!” he cried out as if someone had violated his sacred drawer, looking at the paired and neatly folded color-coordinated pieces of intimate apparel that he just used to dump in a pile. (Lesson #1: The last thing a man wants is someone arranging his underwear according to color.)
“Jamie did.” was all I had to say.
Thankfully a good deal on a 3-bedroom apartment (with a garage) in our compound came through. The catch was — we had to move in and out in a span of three days. And I had just given birth.
I was stressed. And hormonal. And stressed! On top of packing and moving, and all the logistical nightmares that come with it, I had a toddler AND a newborn and a half-recovered me. Oh my.
I tried to talk him out of it, or at least postpone the idea until Jamie was older (but admittedly the deal on the rent wouldn’t be as good). Then he said the magic phrase that changed it all: “I’ll give you a budget to fix the girls’ playroom.”
Yes — I can be bought.
A playroom! For my girls! 🙂 My eyes lit up. Of course everything else melted away into fantasizing and planning what it would look like. I immediately emailed my cousin Bea of Two Tots for ideas, wishing as well it could be a Two-Tots decorated playroom.
In any case, the move happened. Thankfully my mother-in-law and nephew were here to help get things organized and in their respective places. Apparently, it is much easier to move from a small apartment to a bigger one too, so it was not as stressful as I had anticipated (in the few times I had moved it had always been from big to small). Everyone knew that the playroom was my project so they basically “dumped” everything labeled GIRLS’ ROOM into the space and left me to deal with it in my own time.
In between pumping milk, changing diapers and shuttling Sam to and from her activities, I managed to lay down my vision for the playroom and made a list of things (with pegs) my husband could purchase. Of course he thought that everything I wanted was overpriced and looked for the closest, cheapest alternatives he could find in Wal-Mart or Target. I had to make do with whatever he brought home. As it turned out, even if he gave me a budget he still controlled the cash flow (I blame the lack of sleep for fooling me to think otherwise. After all, for those that know my husband, this is MY HUSBAND we’re talking about!)
I compartmentalized the room into sections, so that the girls would know where to find and return things. At first I divided it into right-brain and left-brain activities, but somehow that didn’t work out and things got left in the middle. Then I did it by age-appropriateness but again a lot of the toys overlapped and I ended up with a big chunk of miscellaneous. I even compartmentalized according to the 5 Areas of Development for toddlers, but that didn’t work either.
In the end I went with:
- An educational and entertainment section: This is where the board, the TV and the puzzles, along with the musical instruments are located. It is across the chairs and the stuff toys — only because they compliment each other;
- A free-play section: For bigger toys such as blocks, beach toys, shopping carts and the like could be placed without obstruction;
- A library / pretend-play section: Because we only had one shelf, the books and the pretend play items had to go together; and
- An inside the cabinet section: We installed a shelf for DVDs and art things the kids would need supervision with. The shelf had to go inside because I wanted the furniture to be all white, and the cheapest he found was brown. So that was the compromise.
Now I’m no interior designer, but I am quite pleased with the way it all worked out. What do you think? 🙂
A special shout-out of thanks goes to:
- Two Tots for our wall decals and decorative quilt which set the tone of the playroom; and
- My Mother-in-Law who secretly funded the purchase of the Pottery Barn Anywhere Chairs. The full story of that is coming soon!