crafting a meaningful little project at a time

Thursday, August 30, 2012

little playspaces, BIG IDEAS: Planning an Intentional Playspace

So you’re tired of your house looking like a daycare disaster zone? Don’t like watching your kids drag toys around without really playing with them, and then dropping them in piles here and there? Irritated when you hear them say, “I’m bored” or “There’s nothing to do”…as you think of how many amazing playthings they have lying around untouched? Feeling guilty about saying no to crafts and Play-Doh because you don’t want to haul it out or clean up the mess afterwards? Are you just completely over the chore of putting your whole house back together every night after your kids go to bed…only to watch it degenerate into a complete disaster zone again in the morning?

Me too!

I am no parenting expert, and my home décor ideas may leave something to be desired, but I made the decision to reclaim my house from the kid clutter and give the kids a place to claim as their own. I wanted to be very intentional about planning this space, because I did not want to simply give them a defined dumping ground or a space to do whatever they wanted with…that was the problem in the first place! I wanted to take what I know about child development, classroom organization, and Waldorf principles and be very intentional about applying those concepts to a small space in my home.

Creating an effective playspace is an intentional decision.

If you try to throw together a playspace in the heat of the moment without careful planning, you’re likely to end up with a smaller, more contained version of the disaster zone that was driving you crazy in the first place! You may be able to close the door on this one and pretend it doesn’t bother you…but it will…

Dream of the perfect playspace: my dream playspace was on page 12 of the Pottery Barn Kids catalogue…the distressed furniture, the low, sturdy art tables with built-in storage, the contemporary feel that complements my home décor, kids’ art displayed on giant bulletin boards and canvases, natural elements and learning materials in clear bins, soft lighting…ahhh!

My dream stayed a dream for a long time because I had neither the space nor the budget for that ultimate playroom. Then I had a revelation…

It’s great to dream big, but it’s good to keep yourself grounded too- in the back of your mind, ask yourself: where in your home can you claim a space- a spare bedroom, an unused office, a small corner of the living room, even a closet. Tell yourself it’s ok that you don’t have $3,000 to create that perfect playspace on page 12- there are big changes you can make for $30…or better yet, for free! Think through what you really want for the playroom…what do your children really need in their playroom…are you really looking for a toy storage area or a functional playspace? Is bigger better? Is more better?

Or is it possible that a small, cultivated, organized, intentional playspace is just what you are looking for? Could a smaller space house bigger play potential? Could reused, repurposed, and refinished items be more valuable than shiny plastic furniture?

Could *less* stuff mean *more* meaningful play?

So before you get all inspired and head off to start buying bins, baskets, and brackets and rearranging your home, stop! Slow down! Make a plan! Print off these planning sheets; grab a cup of tea (glass of wine, perhaps?), a pen, and hole up somewhere quiet to dream, write, draw, and plan…we’ll pick up here tomorrow!

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