Number Three is a full blown toddler now. There is no denying it. He has been walking for six months and he is getting more and more independent with playing.
When we got back from our post-Christmas holiday in Ireland, I realised it was time to re-arrange our play area so that he could have his own space.
Up till now, what would normally be the dining room end of our long, narrow livingroom has been the boys’ playroom. The floor was always littered with Lego, Playmobil and toy cars. With Number Three wandering round looking for something to play with, we couldn’t go on with this situation.
Refreshed after the 12 day break from home, I got stuck into the playroom re-organisation last week and I am so pleased with the results. One week in, I can tell you that it is much easier to manage and to keep tidy.
Basically, what I have done is fence the older boys in (I’ll elaborate in a moment) and set up a toddler-friendly area separate from the big boys’ realm.
We have a fantastic room-divider that is like a massive stair gate. It is one of the best things I have bought since having Number Three (you can see the edge of it on the far left of the photo above). I’ve used it to cordon off half of the play area. The bookshelf and all teh toys with small pieces have been put in there. Number One and Number Two can go in and out of it as they please by opening the toddler-proof gate. Number Three can’t get in, unless the gate is left open.
But back to the toddler area itself. Back in 2010 I picked up a gorgeous red vintage bench, chair and matching red and white table at a flea market for the bargain price of €30. It was money wel spent, I can tell you. Number One and Number Two got a lot of use out of it and it has very few marks to show for it. This set has become the basis of Number Three’s section of the playroom.
Both the table and the bench have storage space built in, which makes tidying up really easy. The drawer of the table is shallow but wide and is the perfect place to keep crayons, pencils, paper and colouringbooks.
The seat of the bench lefts up to reveal a surprisingly deep toy box. At the moment we have all the soft toys in there as well as some books. The older pair have grown out of the Punch and Judy puppets but Number Three collapses into fits of laughter as soon as I do a little bit of improv for him.
When I was expecting Number Two in the very hot summer of 2010, I hand-sewed the navy gingham cushion for the bench. The car cushion covers were present for the boys a few years ago. If I remeber rightly, they are from the German chain Butlers.
Of course, no room is my house is complete withouta salvaged chair and this playroom is no exception. The metal chair with the woven red seat is one of three I salvaged from our local kindergarten. They would otherwise have been dumped. I love the, literally, old school look of them and the chipped paint. Luckily there is no rust on them and the pain doesn’t flake off, so there is no danger to Number Three.
The walls were already decorated with a large map of Germany and our Little Linguists’ alphabet chart. The new furniture arrangement is low enough as not to block them out. All three children can access them.
There are, of course, too many toys to accommodate them all within the bench. This red basket holds all the bulky cars, trucks and Lego Duplo pieces. It is made of rubber rather than hard plastic, so it won’t crack or break as it takes abuse from a boisterous toddler.
I bought it in Aldi a year or two ago, attracted by the cute cloud-cutout pattern. Since them it has had various roles around the house – first as a toybox for Number Two them a basket for throws and blankets beside the sofa. I think it fits into its new home here in the play area very nicely.
Overall I am really pleased with how the new arrangement has worked out. So far Number Three has spent a lot of time pottering about, discovering his toys and climbing on his new-to-him furniture.
The way I’ve set things up, I can keep an eye on him from my desk, the sofa or while I iron. He can’t get to the big boy toys and is happy with what he does have access to. So, so far, we are on to a winner.