Today was our first “official” day of homeschooling. It went well (lasted all of 30 minutes) and then we slipped off into book time and play time and sort of forgot about the school day. It’s a good thing we’re starting on the Pre-K level because I think my attention span needs some tweaking!
When I realized that we would be starting our homeschooling journey a little earlier than I had anticipated, I knew that we were going to need to change our space. When I last showed you the playroom, we had pulled the couches out of the living room and converted the largest room in the house into a shared playroom and workspace for me.
Unfortunately, that set up didn’t work as well as I thought it was going to. For one, when I wanted to work I needed to sit off in the corner by myself (which never seemed to happen during the day) so my workspace slowly slipped into that place where we put stuff we don’t want to deal with until later. (Not an ideal thing to have in the main room of your home.)
Secondly, I had tipped the shelves on their sides to create a low shelf/playspace that would work for the kids, but they spent more time bumping into corners and fighting for space than they did playing. I think the arrangement is ideal for babies who are in the crawling stage, but once I had two walkers it was chaotic.
When redesigning the room, I wanted five things:
(1) a place to work, both for me and for the kids,
(2) a place to keep things visible, but out of reach for Calvin (at least until he stops being a terror),
(3) space for the kids to move,
(4) a place to store all of our toys since rotating them hasn’t worked out, and
(5) a place to keep large collections, like our train tracks and Eva’s dress up clothes.
Here’s our progress so far:
Eva’s little art corner got the boot, since her brother made it his life mission to destroy it piece by piece. Now we keep a jar of crayons, a jar of glue sticks, a jar of safety scissors, etc. up on a shelf where they’re easily accessible but out of the reach of the toddler. They both enjoy using the chalkboard, so we’re keeping just a few pieces of chalk out and we’ll see if Calvin earns a few art supplies of his own.
The slide/ball pit/sit’n’spin combo eats up a ton of room space so I almost didn’t include it, but Calvin is desperate to (A) climb all the things and (B) make a huge mess. This satisfies both of those needs in a way that doesn’t make me completely crazy and Eva is still small enough to get use out of it as well. Once it gets warmer outside, I’m pretty sure this will all move to the backyard.
Our new shelving space is actually our old PAX wardrobe tipped over on its side. It’s higher than the white shelves were, so the climbing isn’t as tempting, but it’s also low enough to be another place space. Plus, it’s tall/deep enough to hold standard storage tubs, which has been an easier way to store the dress up clothes and train tracks. I used to have all of Eva’s dress up stuff on little hangers, but it was always messy and they’re all so slippery it seemed like a tall order to make her keep the area neat. I was worried she wouldn’t play with the dress up as often once I took them down, but she’s actually more likely to dig around for things now.
I’m excited that they finally have a dedicated kid space for their iMac. I’m definitely keeping a close eye on Calvin with this one, but I want them to be familiar with the computer and Eva gets a certain amount of time online every week. We’re including basic coding with the homeschooling stuff so she needs open computer access. We’ve also used it for the occasional Facetime call or Daniel Tiger episode.
Our workspace is our old dining table and one of the benches from the dining room (which has been repurposed into a large toy box). We set it against the non-functional fireplace to close that area off because Calvin insisted on trying to lick the soot off the walls. (Ah, the joys of parenthood.) It’s a nice place to work because it’s pretty open and everyone understands that you need to clean up after yourself so it doesn’t stay cluttered.
I do need to come up with something more permanent to cover the fireplace (that’s actually a cardboard presentation tri-fold that we happened to have) and I’m switching out these two chairs for more comfortable chairs from IKEA.
I also might need to figure out a new outlet situation so I can keep plugging in my computer. Right now we cut the backs out of lower parts of the shelves to give us access to the outlet and our air vent for that part of the room.
Speaking of which, the largest addition to the room has been 4 Billy bookcases from IKEA. I’ve wanted to put large bookcases up against the wall ever since we moved into this house, but bookcases can be tricky because they look cluttered so easily. These are definitely a work in progress because I’m going to paint the backs of the shelves (Kyle picked a very dramatic color) and we need to figure out what we’re doing on top of the bookcases (I had nothing to do with those ninja turtles).
The shelves have already been a lifesaver because they hold so much. As for the couch in front, it’s still one of the best things we ever bought at IKEA because it gets so much use and we were able to condense our family book collection that used to be in the dining room into the four shelves that the couch blocks so it’s keeping those books out of the way but accessible.
The white shelves that used to frame the kid playspace are now back to being shelves. They’re currently dedicated to Calvin’s toys since he needed his own space and he’s working on putting his toys away at the end of the day. I’m not sure that the shelves are staying because I have a couple of cute ideas that I’ve seen and playroom space is at a premium in this house, but it’s sort of nice to sit over with him and have him pull things out for us to do.
Finally, the blue shelf is still hanging in there and it continues to take a beating from the kids, making me think that all playroom furniture should start out as repurposed industrial furnishings from science labs.
As I mentioned, there are a lot of things that we want to do in here and a couple of ambitions additions that I’m hoping for (our lighting situation is atrocious) but I’m really happy with the shift. The playroom feels a little more grown up now and it’s been easier to transition from work to school to play. I do wish we had more space, but I have to say that it’s kind of satisfying when you make things work with what you have!