Small spaces: living room play areas

In our home, the living room is our nerve center.

It’s a really large room that we have carved out into spaces meant for different uses: the sofa and TV for lounging, the dining area as well as a study. It’s where we take our meals, work, relax and do stuff together as a family (like playing Christmas carols in June and flapping our hands madly – yes, even the littlest joins in!).

We aren’t the sort of parents who prefer their kids’ toys to be kept out of sight. The way I see it, the boys are a part of our family and they have every right to leave their mark in our house. Also, having little areas that they can hang out at allows us to work and eat and cook in peace, knowing that we can keep a convenient eye out for them and that they will be occupied. Try stir-frying with a little one perma-attached to your ankle and demanding to be carried, hah.

But at the same time, I am also wary of having a living room that looks like it ate Toys R’ Us and threw up everything it swallowed. Urghs. Conveniently, we had two Expedit shelves from Ikea that we no longer use in our study and turned those into holding vessels for the boys’ things.

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The black shelf sits next to our sofa and is filled with books, Aidan’s beloved train set and other bits and bobs of toys. Above the shelf are two wooden crates that I had nabbed from Typo’s online sale. They hold Aidan’s art supplies and the toys that Zac used to play with as an infant. There is also an inflatable globe, which is a gift from a colleague, and which Zac LOVES.

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Since I have two kids, it’s essential that I carve out two spaces in the living room. Because, SIBLINGS. Aidan would be building his train tracks and if Zac was to as much as breathe in his direction, I would hear him shout: “Zac! I’m playing train! Mummy! Zac is taking MY train!” Sometimes the threat is a perceived one, sometimes Zac is truly derailing all Aidan’s trains the way Godzilla tramples on us humans in movies. That’s when I have to step in to steer Zac into another direction.

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We needed a pseudo-divider to demarcate the study space from the rest of the living room and as a temporary measure until we eventually renovate, the white Expedit shelf came in useful. It holds mostly my things – my precious iMac, coffee table books, magazines and two vintage suitcases – and I kept one of the cubicles for a box of their Duplo pieces. Which is perfect, because they both love Duplo/Lego second after the wooden train tracks.

So while one kid is working on the trains, the other can play with Duplo and peace will prevail. That’s the idea, anyway.

A little off from the study is our learning tower. It sits in front of the kitchen and when I used to cook and bake more regularly (before Zac was born), I would move it into the kitchen and Aidan would “help” me as I work. These days, it’s a bit of a white elephant but at least it’s a useful one.

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The learning tower came with an easel that has a chalkboard on one side and a magnetic white board on the other. We placed all our wooden alphabets here and this is where Zac loves to wreak havoc. It’s one of his favourite past-times to rip the letters from the whiteboard and fling it to the ground.

I believe in the Montessori approach of allowing the child have easy access to their toys and things, and that every piece of item has its own place. Which is why their things are out in the open! It means my house is hardly stylish but hey, at least it’s a warm and cosy home for all four of us.

Next up on the Small Spaces blog train is Karen, a mum to two¬†wonderful children, who muses over at Mum’s calling. She believes it is almost every woman’s calling to be a Mum. While fulfilling hers, she finds the journey truly rewarding and enjoyable. She is convinced that Motherhood is life changing and full of surprises.

This post is part of the Small Spaces blog train, which is hosted by Mum in the Making. Click the button for a look at more small spaces!

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