We live in a small house. It is about 1000 square feet, 2 bedrooms. Mr. Monkey has his own room, and Ben and I have our room. We have a basement, but it is a suite that we rent out, so we can’t really use it. Thus, space is a bit of an issue. I see so many beautiful playrooms on Pinterest and other mommy blogs, and although we can’t designate a whole room as a playroom, I’ve tried to be creative in finding tasteful ways to store Mr. Monkey’s toys in an attractive and accessible way for him.
Disclaimer: Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining about the size of our house. It is a huge blessing to have this as our home. And although it’s not as big as some houses out there, I’m so very blessed to be able to stay home with my little boy every day, to play with him, watch him grow and learn, make yummy and nutritious food for our family, and to make our house a home full of warm memories.For now, this house has all the space we need. I have always wanted to be a wife and mommy and to stay home and raise our children. So I’m living my dream. Thank-You God.
Now, onto organizing in small spaces…
One of the advantages of having a small house is that my son is close to me all the time. As most toddlers, he prefers to play near me, so even if I decided to keep his toys in his room, it wouldn’t really work because he would probably be bringing them out into the kitchen or living room all the time. As such, I’ve found little play spaces for him in different areas of the house.
This is the china cabinet in our kitchen. It has an open shelf that’s just at the right height for Mr. Monkey to reach. Here he has three buckets of toys: a bucket of cars, his stacking train, and his Melissa & Doug blocks. I made little labels to go on the buckets to make it easy for him and I to clean up together. The label has the toy name written on it as well a a picture of it, so that he knows what goes in each bucket. I laminated my labels using this laminator.
One of the things that helps keep my sanity is doing an informal toy rotation. Every so often I switch his toys around. I have some toys hidden in closets, in our laundry room, etc., and when I trade a toy for one that I’ve kept hidden, it’s kind of like he gets a new toy. It keeps him entertained a bit longer.
In the living room I’ve found a spot for his toys on the bottom of our coffee table, and by the window.
And of course, there’s his basket of books by the couch. Mr. Monkey thoroughly enjoys stories so we read pretty much every day. We also like to go to the library and take out new books to read.
A new thing that I’m trying: Mr. Monkey has a fondness for my kitchen cupboards and enjoys getting his hands on dishes and food. So, I’ve thought, *Light bulb* “why not, instead of a ‘play kitchen’, let him have a kitchen cupboard all to himself with play kitchen items”. So I emptied out a single cupboard (found space for my crockpot somewhere else…) and put in here his playfood that he got as a Sukkot present and his play felt pizza that my mom got for him. Some time, I want to find him some play kitchen utensils and maybe throw in there some of my own kitchen doo-dahs that I don’t really use so he can do pretend play in the kitchen. I’ll probably look for those things at a second hand store. You can often find pretend kitchen toys there.
We don’t have much room for big toys, but this play-tunnel folds up into easy storage. So it’s fun to bring out and let him play with it for a while, then put it away into a closet when he’s done. This is a good toy for being active indoors and using his gross motor skills (This is Canada and we have real winters!)
With all that said, his favourite kind of play is where he gets to interact with Ben or I. Chasing, tickling, climbing, building and hiding while playing with each other is the best type of play. Of course, we can’t always play together, so then, there’s toys.
What about you? Do you have a small space? How do you like to use your space to organize your children’s toys?