Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of tips in the media for keeping a house looking ‘adult’ while your kids are little. Facebook posts about how to downsize your toys so much that they fit in one closet. Moms bragging that their kids never bring toys out of the playroom. Even an interior design feature story with pictures of a mom sitting on her stairway, snuggling her toddler, right next to her new glass railings. Yes, glass. All I could think was, how long can those things possibly last? I’d give them all of two hours in my house, and my kids are not particularly crazy.
All this stuff sort of seeped into my brain in the way that media sometimes does, and I started to get the idea that obviously my goal should be to keep my house looking as kid-free as possible. So when I pulled out a toy chest of cars and houses and tracks one day and decided to place it in a large empty area of my kitchen, I felt pretty guilty about it. But the playroom was so cramped and there was a big old section of my kitchen being used for nothing, so I went with it. My little one, on the other hand, was overjoyed. The same toys that had seemed dull in the playroom were super interesting in the kitchen. And now he had something to do while I prepped food and washed dishes. Every day after breakfast, he happily hopped down from his chair to play with his ‘twucks.’ But I still felt sort of guilty. Who wants a huge chest of toys in their kitchen, right? Still, a few weeks later I moved the play kitchen in there too. Again, a toy that had lost its appeal immediately became one of the most popular in the house. After almost every meal both my boys happily played ice cream shop together. It was so stinking cute that I realized that I was 100% ok with that big old toy being planted in the middle of my kitchen, despite what the media was telling me I should want.
The ‘spread out toy area’ just works really well for my family. My kids like to hang out in areas where we can all be together, so they aren’t really that into going into their playroom alone. When they do, they really don’t play too long, and sort of flit from one toy to another, basically just making a massive mess on the floor. I think the large amount of toys in there is just overwhelming to them. By spreading the toys out so that most rooms have a few, their things actually get played with and the mess is much easier to contain. Sometimes when a really cool toy is getting zero attention from them, I move it to another place in the house and, like magic, they discover it like it’s brand new. You know the thing about my house? It’s my kids’ house too. The live there just as much as I do, and I want them to remember their childhood home as comfy and welcoming.
Please don’t get me wrong. I certainly don’t want all my kid’s toys strewn all over the floor in every room; my house looking like some sort of post-apocalyptic toy store. I love a good pre-holiday toy purge as well as the next mom, and I can’t wait for the day I get to throw those big infant items out the door (I’m looking at you, exersaucer!) But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to see toys and books that belong to my children throughout my house. Someday I will have a nicely laid out, adult looking home. I’ll go all out decorating for holidays, and the clerks at HomeGoods will know me by name. For right now though, chock full of trucks, board books, love, and laughter, is fine with me.