The Play Room

After reading Simplicity Parenting (a few thoughts on it here) I went through M's play room (she calls it her downstairs living room) and purged about half her toys. It still looked cluttered, but I reorganized the layout and found a place for everything.  I've tried to teach her how to clean up her toys but those who know me know I have no business teaching anyone anything about cleaning.

Simply getting everything in its place took so long we both ended up frustrated and irritable. Throughout the process M would find a toy she hadn't played with in a while and understandably want to play with it. The first few times I gently asked her to get back on task, then I finally resorted to the ol' standby threat, "Mabel, if you can't take care of your toys we're going to give them to someone who can." I had a box in my hand to really drive the point home.

With that motivation she picked everything up, threw it all in the box threat and asked me who would get the toys and where we were going to take them. She didn't see it as a threat so much as an opportunity to share. Lesson learned.

Since then we've been tidying a little bit every day but the room generally looks like the toy monster vomited a rainbow of plastic all over the floor.

Yesterday I gave it a thorough took a solid 8 hours.  Since it's clean, I took a few quick camera phone pics. I'm not one to miss the rare opportunity to brag about a clean room.

My system? I applied what I know about how Mabel plays:
  • she's more likely to play with her toys when she can see them; 
  • she won't dig through a giant toy box to get out one toy, she likes to peruse the buffet before deciding what looks fun;
  • she simply won't make a choice (i.e. she'll ask to watch TV) if given too many options;
  • she's much more imaginative if she has a place to park her rump and/or move around without obstacles; 
  • given a task she can do herself (e.g. hanging a jacket, putting away shoes) she rises to the challenge; it's a simple way to build her self-confidence and she loves knowing she can do something "by mine own self".

Going through the room, I made a small pile of toys to get rid of. Then I whittled the selection of books, puzzles, and art supplies to about half. Those went into a closet to use as back stock. I bought a few more baskets to organize the cubbies.  I like the clean look of those bins made fit these kinds of shelves and hide the clutter, but picked low-walled baskets so M can easily see what's inside. in loose themes like "things with wheels". At some point in the near future I'll add pictogram labels to each. I  moved a table in from another room, making a corner for crafting. Above the table are some cute little clips for an easily changeable display of her artwork. Just inside the doorway to the room are lots of hooks at her height for hats, necklaces and jackets. Below the hooks to the left is a sizable basket for shoes and slippers. Below the hooks to the right is a picnic basket sturdy enough she can stand on it and play with her nature shelf.

What's nature shelf? They're common to both Montessori and Waldorf philosophies. Generally it's an area dedicated to all the fascinating finds from the great outdoors. I took a wooden box some flash cards came in and made one (errr...asked Charlie to make one) for M. She loves collecting natural objects, examining them, and showing them off when other kids come over. This little area provides the perfect spot for that.

It's back to being a play room meant for play. At least for now.

Company is coming!
Hooray! I love having people over, but this time it meant the end of an
era of finely honed excuses allowing me to keep making messes and not cleaning up after myself. So here is the reality of being out of town every weekend for a month.
But Sloane, if you're reading this, it looks much better now.
And Mary, if you're reading this, I'm finally ready for a studio visit!

I think I had the equivalent weight in scrap paper of a 4 year old tree. It's off to the recycling center today, since I tore myself away from the "but I'll use that one day" philosophy.
Let's all make a collective "phew" and celebrate the weight lifted off my shoulders by doing a big purge, shall we??

Just when the heat made everything so much harder, someone came in with a dumptruck load of ghosts to drop on my shoulders.
I'm strong enough to handle it, but my heart still aches from the strain a little.

I'm ready for a swim, where the water supports me for a little while and I can cool off from the heat.

In a fit of purging last month, I put the old coffee table out by the street with a "free" sign on it. It was rescued by a woman in her 20s or so. I saw her get out of a car and sit on it until a more suitably sized vehicle came back to get her and the table.I replaced it with a West Elm bench with black webbing straps for the seat, suitable but not quite rigid enough for beverages to rest safely. (See image above, bottom left square: oak and black bench.)
The search for a "new" coffee table was semi-frustrating and involved hitting all the chain furniture stores, which were plentiful here in the furniture state. Nothing popped out as worth $300 + dollars. I searched Craigslist and eBay until I finally found this antique walnut table:It suits my tastes quite well, but I'm still kicking myself for passing up the danish modern coffee table at the local thrift store that was $50 more than I had at the time; the table was really a bargain at $50.
Today I went to Velocity Art and Design to check out these super cute melamine plates (not to buy, just to ogle)and stumbled upon my knight in shining armor. It is, I'm sure, too rich for my blood, but I love it so much I'm going to write I [heart'] Scrapile on my hand and never wash it. Thank goodness the link to it is acting up!