My teenage son and two friends are tearing it up on ping pong in my home right now. I want this to be a fun place for children, all sizes and ages. We don't have a basement so, there's that. With five children, most of our floor plan is bedrooms. I have had to get a lil creative on making my home more fun, by using the living areas that we have. Especially as the people get taller.
I am so incredibly proud of myself y'all. Tell you why in a second. We had been talking about turning my lovely dining room into a game room by buying this crazy expensive game table that was yoo-glee. I mean yoo-glee. I was willing to do that so that our house is fun for teenagers. They have to go somewhere right? When they're bored, I want them to come here. I want there to be fun stuff to do and basic general food items available along with an atmosphere of: we love that you are here. And we know you need more to do than read my fascinating books on the history of Rome.
Get ready to high five me: I found a portable ping pong set at a sporting goods store for about $25. It came with two paddles and a net. You stretch that baby out and mush it to the sides of your dining room table. So it's a temporary attaching ping pong situation. I keep the net, balls and mallet thingies stored away in a drawer nearby. Bam, game room. And I didn't have to give up my girly dining room that I like to use for parties or special meals. Or spend an insane amount of money on a yoo-glee table. Hence, I'm so proud. Excellent solution. Please click below to read more.
We had a Super Bowl party at our house and it was fun for the guys to go in there and ping pong away, off and on. Truth be told those big boys enjoy our kiddie plastic basketball goal as much as the babies do. It's in the kitchen for now until it's warm enough to stick it out in the driveway.
Children are loud and messy. However, this is not their fault as, after all, they didn't ask to be born. Ever since we've had children, we've tried to make our house welcoming and happy for them, while keeping a moderate level of cuteness and style going for the big people. I think my home looks pretty, but it is co-existing very well with the young population. So it's like a stylish and adorable Chuck-E-Cheese. I'm not sure but I think that might be an oxymoron.
Babies. I've always blasted sound machines in the babies' rooms when they are asleep, so that you don't have to flip out making everyone be quiet all the time. Nuclear fallout can be going on and that baby stays asleep. Whenever I've had to make a baby purchase such as safety gates, I gravitate toward ones that are neutral in color. Why do these baby gate manufacturer people think we want bright green and orange atrocities staring at us with lambs jumping across the top in our living room? This is not a story book, this is a piece of furniture. Act like one. If you need a potty training seat, IKEA has them for 10 bucks. I'm not playing. A third the price of Tar-jay. And they're Euro sleek looking and they don't sing obnoxious songs or have blinking lights. How can anyone go potty with all that going on.
Where there's baby, there's less than lovely aroma, especially if you use cloth diapers so I keep room deodorizer sprays all over the place. The vanilla lavender ones at Yankee Candle don't smell worse than what you're trying to blot out. For me to enjoy and tell others about anything that has "Yankee" in its name, indicates that I truly like it. These deodorizers are expensive but they last like six years for real. I think when designing space equipment, NASA should seriously consult these room spray people for their strategies on containing highly condensed substances in a small volume.
Toddlers. White fabric is right out. I love the way white looks for about 13 minutes. Dirty dingy white is not attractive. I've had white kitchen cabinets in our previous house and wow. Not fun. Please don't go spending any money or creating high maintenance projects for your hubby but, if you are fixing to buy something anyway, I say no white. The pretty pictures in the home magazines are not for actual human beings. Or, if used by humans, these people recover or replace their upholstered furniture frequently and that's crazy expensive. When I buy a couch, I am married to that thing for a decade or two until it starts nearing the duct tape phase.
We have a general no food out of the kitchen rule. The sloshing and spilling all happen far away from fabric and carpet. You can hose everything down this way. Same goes for drawing and coloring utensils for anyone young enough to be naughty. We try to keep those in the kitchen. Seeing a child waving a magic marker around in a bedroom, to me is on the same emergency level as if they are waving a lit sparkler at my hair. It's a code red. Yikes, get that thing back in the kitchen.
While we're in the kitchen, small people really can help themselves to a cup of water. It's just a height problem. So I designate one of my lower kitchen cabinets to unbreakable bowls, plates and cups for the little people. It way cuts down on the feeling like a full time waitress persona we start to take on all day long. Then again they make a mess so, mull that one over.
We hang mirrors in an attractive frame at toddler eye level. It's a nice decoration and hey, little ones love staring at themselves, especially little girls who will dance and prance in front of the mirror for hours.
Older children. I hang those shoe holders with tiny shoe-sized sections on the back of doors, especially closet doors. Not for shoes. Children can put pipe cleaners, glue, tape, sequins and future robot parts in these hangers. The ones they don't want the tiny people to invade and ruin go up high.
I gave up my kitchen pantry for the sake of randomness. I have a wooden crate for each child in there, to keep school books and personal belongings. We store art supplies in there too.
I find very beautiful lamps that are extremely inexpensive. That way, when one gets knocked over, I'm kind of happy: Yay, that cheapo lamp shade is ruined, I can buy a new one now and the room gets a little decorating revamp.
Shoes: there are just so many of them right? We have a few cheapo little stacking shelves inside the garage right by the door. I don't keep our children's shoes in their bedrooms but rather, keep them by the door a la Koreans because that is where people are always looking for them. When I'm really on top of things I rotate these out according to season. So we don't have flip flops taking up space in winter. Sometimes we even find two shoes that match.
Clutter for all ages. I figured out a long time ago to control the clutter but not fight it. What I mean by that is, I notice the areas in my house where clutter seems to naturally accumulate. It's just going to accumulate in those places, no matter what I do. There will be a pile of random toys near the steps. There will be a bizarre assortment of electronic chargers on the kitchen counter. There will be crayons in the kitchen. So I make those places attractive clutter centers. When I see stuff accumulating, I put a pretty basket or tray in that spot. So it looks like it's there on purpose. An organized mess, as my cousin Millie calls it.
Consider the storage availability in your house. Any cabinets, drawers, shelves you have. This is precious real estate. Most of ours are full of child-friendly items. Box up weird stuff you never use and give these very precious spots up to your children. We keep cabinets in the living room full of toys, so they're there but not on view. Our coffee table has drawers and those are full of board games. So we have little stashes of fun small items available for the children. Large clunky child items go in bedrooms. Otherwise: Chuck-E-Cheese.
Use fruit happiness to your advantage. Fresh fruit is nice to have around to be healthy and it looks very pretty on a tray or bowl somewhere. Arranged in a nice way. Sometimes I pile a bunch of those clementines in a glass container and put that on the kitchen table. It looks pretty and little people see it so they are helping themselves to those and dipping into a little Vitamin C action. Then rubbing it all over the kitchen chairs but that's okay. They're not white.