When we purchased our house, we turned the upstairs room into a combination playroom and computer room. We had many good days playing with baby NHL there. When he got older and his baby brother was born, though, going up the stairs (which are perilously steep) became harder and harder to do safely. Since it wasn’t being actively used, we began to use the room for storage. Have a box we need to find a place for? Put it upstairs for now. Is there a toy that NHL’s outgrown? Put it upstairs until we decide what to do with it. The room slowly morphed from play room to storage area.
Fast forward a few years. NHL has been joined by his brother, JSL. Though many of their toys reside in their own room, the living room has been drafted into the new “play room.” Toys threaten to overwhelm it no matter how many times we clean it up. The boys love playing together and separately, but our house isn’t exactly large. If the two boys want to play different activities, one is bound to encroach on the other’s space. Encroachment leads to fights and fights lead parental intervention. Everybody loses.
In the warmer months, this isn’t as big of a problem. The boys can play outside to get space. The winter means we can’t let the boys play outside for long (or at all some days). Play has to be done indoors which makes our tight quarters seem even tighter.
Many times we resolved to clean up the play room, but other matters kept coming up. Still, this time we decided it had to be done. The former play room was far too big of a space to allow it to fester. So we cleaned up a small space for the boys to play in while we worked on the rest of the room. Over a few weekends, we went through long-forgotten piles of papers and mementos from trips past. We organized items, put them away, threw out what we didn’t need and occasionally marveled at a forgotten treasure recovered.
Slowly but surely, the small play space expanded. A crowded circle surrounded by piles to process became a clean room filled with toys. The cleaning isn’t done just yet. Old computer equipment needs to be disposed of or given away. Toys which have been outgrown need to find a new home. And papers with sensitive information await shredding.
Still, the results are already apparent. The boys love their new play area and ask to go there any chance they get. They can play together or apart and not get in each other’s way. They can watch videos (we don’t have cable TV hooked up there), play with toys or go on the computer (if we bring one of our laptops upstairs). JSL has had a picnic on a blanket while watching a movie and the boys have rediscovered toys that were long forgotten (or never played with). They have room to play. Room to have fun. The smiles on their faces are worth all the work we put into the room.