Listen, there are five of us and not all of us are fully grown yet. In fact two of us are quite small (for now). So, our four bedroom house with a basement but no garage (this will come up later) should be an adequate amount of space for a bunch of reluctant suburbanites. Let’s take a closer look at that concept, shall we?
I have three daughters. They share a bedroom and another reading/play room of the same size across the hall.
Our basement has a series of bins filled with toys, a shelf of board games, the toy kitchen and all of the accessories with it as well as a table and two chairs, a TV, a defunct Wii (or so my husband claims. I think he just hates setting it up. I too hate setting it up but that’s because it enrages me to see all of the cords tangled and find discs scattered everywhere courtesy of said aforementioned husband who is of the “out of sight – it doesn’t matter mindset”.), and an Ikea futon-style sofa/bed, In the middle are mirrors, a ballet bar, a mini balance beam and several gym mats on the concrete floor. Our girls practice dance routines, tumble and generally goof around in the space. Closer towards the other end is a large folding craft table, a tower of bins with craft supplies and anywhere from 1 to 3 chairs. Behind that is a workout area. Like everyone, this workout area was created with the best-of-intentions and is one of the least used spaces in our house. My husband – a far more devoted dad then he gives himself credit for being – is about to sell everything in that space to give the girls the run of the entire basement. Personally, I want to drop some serious coin I don’t have on building a three-piece bathroom down there.
Based on that highly detailed description I think you can agree that our girls have more than there fair share of dedicated space.
So why, how and when does all of their stuff start to creep into the shared family spaces and the not-so-shared family spaces? I’m not referred to a book lying on a chair in the living room. I’m not complaining about homework being done at the dining room table. I’m talking about the piles of books, papers (I don’t think they or their teachers are as environmentally conscious as they claim to be!), trinkets, kits, equipment, art supplies, toys and colouring books (which since the whole “colouring for adults thing took hold, my kiddos seem to have five million of despite not being adults, one of them never actually colouring since birth and one of them preferring to draw). They are in the office – a space that I do actual paid work from 5 days a week. They are in my room – a space I barely want to share with my husband but allow him half of the bed because he’s a good snuggler. They are in the kitchen, on the stairs, at the front door and all over my freakin’ living room and dining room!
When C started school last year, we moved all of the toys from the office and living room into the basement. I’d kept them in multiple places so that wherever I was she could be. In fact, from the time we moved here when L was born until just before C turn 2, we used the dining room as a play area and just ate in the kitchen. (This isn’t C in the photo; it’s L.)
A few people have suggested we give them each their own room. This suggestion has been met with the removal of the alcoholic beverage from their hands and a withering look.
My approach is going to be to give them less space but more clearly defined areas. Along with the massive purge of useless crap we started this week. I’ll fill you in on the details and welcome any suggestions that don’t involve catering to their needs. I’m sure one day, they will pay the mortgage here and relegate me to corner of the house, perhaps a room off the kitchen they’ve built for me, but until then…we are all just going to have to learn how to put it back where you got it or lose it.