The Playroom Project

Raise your hand if your house is dustless, clutter-free, organized to a T, and scrubbed ’til it shines… anyone? any single one of you? If you have your hand raised and are waving it madly, you might want to look away from this post and come back in a few days.

I do not have a spotless, dustless, toy-and-clutter-free home. But I surely appreciate all those things and desperately try to wrangle our lives in a close approximation of all those untenable goals in a life filled with small children and big dreams. So I take small steps in between sips of coffee and tip-toe past the ever-present piles of laundry to tackle a few minutes here and there of larger projects that normally overwhelm me. I’m starting to learn how to break down those looming tasks into smaller steps that help me feel like I’m making progress. It’s not my forte, but we all need something to work on, yes?

In the parlance of our time, folks, I’m about to “keep it real.” Here is the state of the kids’ playroom when I realized it was way past time for an intervention.

Play Room 1

Play Room 2

Play Room 3

Play Room 4

Play Room 6

Play Room 5

Play Room 7

Here’s the thing I’ve noticed about my kids and their clutter in particular. When they are unable to keep things cleaned up by themselves in ten minutes or less, there is a steady and rapid slide into chaos. Everyone is unhappy. Two years ago I became so frustrated with the level of mess, that I attacked the toy piles (and piles and piles…) with a handful of trash bags. I was worried about the revolution I would face come the morning when sleepy eyes looked around and saw the Shock and Awe assault levied on their bits and bobs and plastic parts… But here’s the rub. Not only did they not notice, they were better able to focus on what they were playing with and suffered fewer distractions. It was as if a tiny cloud from heaven descended upon us and restored peace and sanity. They never mentioned the toys, I never missed them, and no one every noticed (or said anything if they did) that a few of their gifts had gone missing. I certainly appreciated a break from trying to keep all the tiny little toys together in their sets, the kids found awesome little substitues when needed, everyone was happy.

We have repeated this scenario enough times that I know it wasn’t just a fluke. I also know that the slash and burn is long past due, and it’s one of the projects I’ve been slowly chipping away at for the past three weeks. It’s almost done. I can’t wait. Can. Not. Wait.

And this post is the last little bit of incentive I’m offering up to get me past this last little push I’ll need to get. it. done. Another mark off my to-do list.

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13 thoughts on “The Playroom Project

  1. Go you! Our playroom is A MESS. I don’t even want to look at it right now. I’m going to have to go through it all and really pair down everything. Thanks for keeping it real, Cheryl. x

    • It seems to be a theme… this state of messy, chaotic, nightmare-inducing playrooms. I had such awesome dreams of the playroom being the container for all the child-strata, but I guess that was unrealistic. Sigh. They’ll have less stuff when they’re teenagers, right, since everything they’ll want or need will be found on their magical phones?

  2. go you. since i live in clutter from years and years of messies and still never tackled it, gotta say that past all what you consider chaos is a gorgeous, cheery room, that your little ones must absolutely love. love you, love your writing, love your lovely family

    • Ms K, there you go spreading your fabulous sunshine again! I really do like the room, and the kids certainly love it, when it’s all cleaned up and ready for some tough play-work. When it gets crazy like this, they tend to start spreading out to other areas of the house, but even with the clean-up that’s already happened, they’re back in it creating awesome playmobile/block/lego towns… so much fun to watch!

  3. just walked through our playroom with my eyes closed at the horror, hoping I didn’t step on something sharp. And I have to admit, I’m with kklkkl… your level of “chaos” and mine are 2 completely different things 🙂 If only I knew how to do the slash and burn. Come visit; help me!

    • Oh the slash and burn is so much easier when someone else does it!! And trust me, this isn’t the worst that it’s been, but I’m not quite ready to share the “worst” publicly yet. I tend to crack when the kids start plopping things on the dining room table, one of the few spaces in the house that has to be clutter-free for me to maintain my sanity (the other space being the window sill behind the kitchen sink… isn’t that odd?).

    • Oh, and I really need to schedule a visit… maybe I’ll bring Ms. E and myself sometime in Jan or Feb? Or maybe during the Spring thaw in August? 😉

      • Any and/or all of you are welcome at any time! Though the weather is nicer in the summer, there is skating and sledding in the winter 🙂

  4. Your playroom looks like my daughter’s bedroom. Hell it looks like my living room most days. We don’t even have a rug anymore. They killed my beloved striped rug. I know this is about messes but every time I see a photo of your house I think to myself how much I love your design aesthetic. It’s so similar to my taste that I am looking beyond the usual kids toys all over (which purging is the greatest to do list item ever) and am in love with the bones of the room!

    • Oh yeah, you should see my girls’ room right now… They have the largest closet in the house (other than our walk-in) and filled it three feet deep with CRAP. I totally lost it last Thursday and ripped every last bit of it out, and now it sits in piles on their floor waiting for further instruction. Gotta get to that before my Mom shows up this weekend.

      And bad kid-lets for trashing that awesome rug! I say take it out of their college fund! I think this is how I’m going to fund my Mommy-Needs-Some-Alone-Time vacations I’m starting to plan. 😉

      Thanks for the props on the design sense. I have to say this is one of my favorite rooms in the house (when it’s decently organized) probably because it’s the most “complete.” I always struggle with the finishing part, otherwise know as decorating. My mom is fabulous at it, but I’ve always struggled with adding those last little bits to make everything look polished.

      • “Otherwise known as decorating”. Once I stop howling I’ll try to form a proper response. I’ll trade you decorating for the list of things we said we’d fix as soon as we moved in that are still sitting there 2 years later. I have patches of caulking in my kitchen from the previous owners b/c we haven’t done a thing to it.

  5. Too many grandparents??? (And a mother who loves the artsy, and use your imagination rule.) I could never keep your bedroom clean, and you know what they say about paybacks, but I only had one messy—-you have 3.5 (cuz the littlest one cant cut, color or build, yet). But I have seen what your will power can do and I can see the result in the future. Like Thursday, early afternoon. So excited!!!

    • Heh… can there ever be too many grandparents? Can there? And yeah, will power is one thing, but what I really need is five extra hours in the day as well as a mess-repellant device. Or maybe even a mess-cloaking device. Wait… a mess-cloaking device. Huh. I think those might be called closets. So, let me revise my previous question… Can there ever be too many grandparents or too many closets?

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