Today I made our play room as bare as I could manage, having been inspired by a visit to a friend's home this week. We spent time in her play room, our nine collective children romping about very happily. You know what her play room looked like?
A big empty room with two couches.
Yes, there were some toys in a toy closet--but they were all put away when we got there, and we put them all back when we left--and there was a bounce house that folds up unobtrusively when not in use. What I got to see was how happy children are to play in space, and to use a few toys intentionally.
Therefore, this morning I was gripped by desire to provide space for my children (only two months after an earlier attempt to cycle their toys in and out--which was an improvement).
Now, one half of the play room has a train table full of wooden blocks for building things. (The two school desks are going to be sold when I get to that task, as we don't use them).
The other half of the play room has a train table with a toddler toy on top of it, the trampoline, a baby 'exersaucer' (ready to be taken to the attic), a bookshelf with now-empty bins, and an armoire full of toys (and the seesaw on top, taken down by an adult).
The armoire now contains all their toys in bins, upon which I've affixed labels for sorting as well as pinned all my hopes that the children will be more intentional about getting out a particular toy and putting it away.
Toys in the armoire:
- Some matching/pattern games
- Paint supplies (out-of-reach of toddlers)
- Baby toys
- Toy weapons
- Matchbox cars
- Army guys
- Lacing beads
- Mr. Potato Head
- Wooden alphabet blocks
The armoire has two large drawers. The bottom drawer contains puzzles, while the top drawer contains the fruits of a summer's worth of my printing out preschooler educational activities, which I then laminated and stored in individual Ziplock bags. I never use those preschooler activities because they all require direct adult teaching, but I'm still not ready to throw them away yet!
I love the wide open space and am curious how my children will use it.
Other toys are elsewhere, stored in specific places and not allowed to migrate about the house.
- Wooden train set
- Board games
- Fiction books
- Legos and Duplos
- Lincoln Logs
- Dress-up clothing
- Fiction books
- Dolls, doll house, doll stroller, doll crib
- Play kitchen
Sun room and garage:
- Balls of all sorts
- Outdoor games
Special secret hiding closet:
- The best outdoor toys that Mama gets out and Mama puts away so they do not get lost, and they maintain their appeal, such as bean bag toss, water buckets and sponge balls, paint brushes to "paint" the deck with water, and bubbles.
You know what I think is a good exercise? List out your children's toys and entertainments, and I think you will be quickly disabused of any warped Western notion that your children need more, or that more would even be salutary for their souls. Chris and I purposefully fight an influx of toys, and we donate away often, and still our children have such an incredible bounty! I forget that fact until I see it in black and white.
I am excited to see how the children play in their new space.