Maximize Playroom Potential + Encourage Play
I’m convinced that the majority of the parenting population falls into two camps when it comes to playrooms:
Have a designated playroom and hate it.
Wish they had a designated playroom and think it would solve all of their worldly problems.
I’m fairly certain that people who have playrooms and love them must be type A. Or they don’t actually have kids. You decide.
I’m only (half way) joking.
We all have pain points in our homes and to be quite honest, our playroom has been one of my biggest pain points. I always knew that when we built we would have one. It was long awaited after 5+ years of having toys in seemingly every room of the house.
When we finally moved in, I noticed that the playroom just wasn’t working for us. We toy had storage. We had seating. We had a TV. Yet, the kids still wouldn’t spend time in there and it was ALWAYS a disaster. How can a room that’s virtually untouched look like a bomb went off in it? I still haven’t figured that out but I have been known to zip tie the playroom doors closed on occasion. No lie. It was that bad….and embarrassing. The zip ties were necessary for the safety of our guests, I swear.
I’m happy to say that we’ve made a few changes to our set up and it seems to really be working for us. It’s not perfect and I’m still tweaking things pretty often to determine the best usage before I decorate but I’ve been very pleased with our new arrangement and most importantly, I think the kids are too!
Here’s how we maximized the space of this small-ish room and provided more opportunities for open ended, imaginative play:
Address the seating arrangement. Our old brown leather reclining couch lived in the play room because we didn’t want to part with it when we moved. It was honestly a really great, comfortable couch and it just made sense to keep using it—or so I thought. I later realized that it was preventing the kids from having the space to drag out their toys and really PLAY, to build forts (their favorite thing), or even to have a small table to color and draw at. The only thing our playroom was actually conducive to was sitting and watching TV. Don’t get me wrong, that’s one of my guilty pleasures, but I didn’t want it to be my kid’s sole activity when they weren’t spending time outside.
We got a Nugget! I would best describe it as a modular cushion set rather than a couch. It has provided endless opportunities for play, lounging, fort building, etc. We love it, use it often and find the scale to be much more appropriate for the room. Our old couch butted up to the window and stuck out past the edge of the closet door. The Nugget fits perfectly against this wall and can be folded in half and stacked for an even smaller footprint.
Designate a space for artwork and studying—bonus points for extra storage. Our folding kid table from Walmart finally bit the dust a while back and I hadn’t prioritized replacing it. I was being picky about the type of table I wanted, per usual. I finally discovered this unfinished storage table online and we’ve been very happy with it. I was also picky about chairs to pair with the table. I just couldn’t commit to something I didn’t love since, believe it or not, tiny chairs can be quite expensive. I found some fun macrame-style poufs to double as seating and ottomans. They work like a dream! I actually move them into the living room from time to time to prop my feet on while sitting on the couch.
Rotate toys: minimize distractions and electronics. It’s pretty much a proven fact in the Lange household that too much screen time encourages the children to lose their minds 9 out of 10 times. I’m obviously guilty of letting them watch too much TV or I wouldn’t have these very official statistics. I try to keep screen time to a minimum because I know the effects it has on my kids but stuff happens and some weeks Netflix just feels necessary. On a good day, I encourage them to play together or independently. It sounds counterintuitive, but I’ve found that by keeping the majority of their toys out of sight/out of mind and only keeping a select few on display, they actually play more freely. Some of the activities that seem to best hold their attention are: Magformers, Play-Doh, and our favorite new addition, this FamilyTree tracing board. I have to admit, the tracing board is one of the most favorite things I’ve ever bought for my kids. It’s beautiful, heirloom quality, and functional and I love knowing that I’m supporting a local, veteran owned business with my purchases.
Address the seating arrangement
Designate a space for artwork and studying
Most importantly, find what works for your family. The goal here isn’t to have the most beautiful playroom but to provide a space where your kids feel free to explore, create and imagine. Mix it up. Pare it down. Create a space for little minds to grow and enjoy the results!
Our playroom has been like this for a few months now and I’m noticing that it’s actually sustainable. My kids are able to maintain a level of cleanliness that they weren’t able to before. My oldest surprised me by cleaning it up on his own without me asking him to and it looked great! I think it’s been far less overwhelming and that makes everyone happy!