Playroom Makeover: Stroller Savvy Edition

Before we had kids, we swore we would not be those people with too many toys. Alas, 4 Christmases, 6 birthday parties, numerous yard sales and countless hand-me-downs later, we are.

When we moved into our new house, we knew the bonus room would be the perfect play space for our kiddos and their friends. We dumped the majority of our toys in there and it quickly became just that…. a dump. The kids would create such a mess (as they should) that it became overwhelming to clean up. Eventually even their play was distracted and disjointed.

PMProductivebefore

With a lot of work, help from our friend Pinterest, and some ingenuity, we have finally created a play space we are excited about. By creating zones and adding in some organization, the kids are able to play more freely and really get into whatever they want to do. It is also far easier to clean up. Our 4-year-old knows exactly where everything goes, and even our little ones are able to identify what goes where. Here are some of our favorite areas:

Reading Nook

We have several comfortable places to read throughout the playroom, but we also wanted to provide a quiet area where the kids can retreat with a book if there is too much hubbub going on elsewhere. When the kids are older we will put fun beaded string curtains up, but they are not safe for the ages of our kiddos at this time.

We created inexpensive bookshelves using plastic gutters. Facing the books forwards is a proven strategy to entice readers. Our oldest has always been an avid book lover, but since installing this in our playroom, the babies have shown greatly increased interest.

ReadingNook

                          bookshelves booknook

I created these letters using wooden letters, scrapbook paper, and Mod Podge. I am not going to lie, it took a lot longer and was much more stressful than I anticipated. I may have even said a few choice words to old Ms. Mod Podge. However, I am very happy with how they came out, so it was worth it in the end.

Read Sign                         reading

ARt area

Kids need a space to create. We laid down foam pads that will be easier to clean when inevitable spills occur, found this awesome table at a yard sale to enable the kids to sit together comfortably, stocked the above cabinets with paper, crayons, scissors, markers, play dough, paint, etc. (Ideally, this would all be out so they can use it whenever the mood strikes, but since our twins are still in the eat-it, write-on-walls stage, we opted for safety first 🙂  )  Our piece de resistance- a giant chalkboard wall created with chalkboard paint. As you can see, it is a huge hit. Even our teenage cousins loved it when they came to visit!

Art Areachalkboard

Finally, we created a place to display their works of art. We stenciled the word Masterpieces, hung thin wire and attached small clothespins.  

masterpieces

 Imagination Station

We created this dress-up “closet” using an old media center. We gave it new life with a fresh coat of paint, stenciled letters, knocked out a few shelves, and inserted a tension rod. We are debating adding a mirror (fun vs. vanity). The part that says “Imagine” opens to reveal smaller shelves that hold mustaches, necklaces, badges, and eventually princess shoes I imagine. It keeps the dress-up clothes from ending up all over the floor, gives extra life to Halloween costumes, and encourages imagination and dramatic play. Our son will go through several outfits in a matter of minutes- he certainly comes out with some interesting creations at times!

dressup

PMCostume

Construction Zone

Filled with trucks, cars, blocks, and a DIY train table (we prefer letting the kids use their imagination to create their own tracks instead of a pre-designed one), children can zoom around to their hearts’ content.

train table

Barn

We actually made this for our son’s second birthday party. At the time we got a lot of flak for all the work we put in, yet here it is still going strong two years later!  When it is time to officially retire the barn, it will become something else- a spaceship, pirate ship, castle, house. With a box, paint, and duct tape, the sky’s the limit!

barn

Ball Pit

I had seen people fill baby pools with balls, but wanted something with higher sides to contain my meandering duo. Enter the Pack-n-Play ball pit! It was such a hit, even the four year old climbed in. Now that they are older, they don’t like to be contained for long, so I often put this in the garage as a holding cell when I am loading or unloading the mini-van.

ballpit

BINS Bins Bins

Bins are a toy organizing savior. They are perfect for storing smaller toys- Legos, balls, puzzles, figurines, etc. The key to keeping them from becoming a receptacle for gathering all randoms is labels. Use both the picture and the word to help non-readers know what goes where.

PMLabels

By leaving the walls neutral and using decals, it is a space that we can adapt as the children grow. Eventually the baby toys will make way for a couch, the train table will become a foosball table, the books in the reading nook more complex, the artwork more intricate. (I already have big plans for a Lego table!)

Our hope is that this room always remains a place of joy, memory making, learning and growth.

After

I would love to see pics of your favorite playroom spaces as well!

beforeafter

 

Thanks to the following Pinspirations!

Money Saving Sisters https://www.pinterest.com/pin/395753885982364970/

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/395753885982364975/

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/395753885982364966/

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/395753885982364979/

 

 

My Greatest Regret, On Mother’s Day

Even though I am a mother of three and am thankful for my blessings every single day, Mother’s Day isn’t a special day for me. Hearing and seeing the words are like a tiny punch in the gut, every single time. To me, Mother’s Day is a day when I should celebrate my mother. And she isn’t here for me to be able to do that.

I lost my mom when I was 18. Right smack dab in the middle of the “I am a jerk and treat you horribly” stage. I held on to that regret for a very long time. However, now that I am a mother myself I know that she recognized it for what it was- a stage. A natural right of passage,  a college freshman exercising her independence. She knew that I wouldn’t have talked to her like that if I didn’t love her more than anyone else in the world. I was just beginning to come around and then she passed away suddenly. We were robbed of the stage where I get to apologize and grow to become best friends. However, that isn’t my greatest regret.

I marvel at all that I have been through without her here on Earth. Graduating college, working a job I didn’t love (hearing her say “I told you so” every step of the way), getting married, getting pregnant, raising my first child, raising twins, navigating adult life, relationships, and every other little thing along the way. I missed her every single day, but I also accepted that it is what it is and held my head high.

And now, here I am, a mother of three with the greatest regret of all.

While there is nothing I can do to change it, and nothing I could have done differently, my greatest regret is that she isn’t here with her grandchildren. I never would have imagined that now, in my adult life with my own family unit established, I would miss her more than ever. My mother was a woman who lived for family. When my father was dying, the first thing she said to me was “who is going to walk you down the aisle?” She would have adored these children. I can’t give her the gratification of calling her for motherly advice or leaning on her when I need her most. I can’t return the love by letting her love on her grandchildren. My heart shatters whenever I think about how much she would have loved these children. They would have been her world, and she theirs.

I know I am living the life she would have wanted for me, and the best gift I can give her now is to do my darnedest to teach my kids about her and my dad, to shower them with love as they taught me to do, and to embrace every second of my fragile time with them. She wouldn’t want me to be sad today; she would want me to celebrate what she taught me was of utmost importance- family.

I used to just block this day out, treating it as just another day.  However, now I am a mom too and I can’t ignore it. I usually take things in stride, but now it hits me harder than I ever would have imagined. Perhaps I am just overly sentimental because I’m so darn sleep-deprived, but I know that’s not it. As happy and grateful as I am, no matter where I go or what I do, I will always have this mother-sized hole. She will always have been robbed of meeting her grandchildren and they will always wonder why they can’t see her.

This year I will celebrate Mother’s Day. I don’t really like attention; I haven’t celebrated my birthday in years. However, I have three kids who, like me, will want to celebrate their mother. I owe it to them, and I owe it to my mom. We will buy a beautiful hanging plant, the one gift she requested every year, and I will tell my children all about why our “Grandma Wilma plant” is so special. I will remind them of how much she loves them and I will smile, because I know that she would have wanted nothing more than for me to be able to experience the precious gift of motherhood myself.

This Mother’s Day, please do me and everyone else who misses their beloved mothers a favor and take a moment to celebrate the most important mother- your mother.

Mom, I love you. You truly are “the wind beneath my wings.”

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