When you ask most military families, the first spaces they set up after a move are those that their children will occupy. The reason for this is twofold: For one, if the kids are happy, entertained, and contained, unpacking the rest of the house is much easier. But possibly more importantly, reestablishing your child’s rhythm as quickly as possible is key for transitioning. An easy way to work toward that end is by reuniting children with their beloved things. Bedrooms and playrooms often top the list of “first up” spaces, but it can sometimes be tricky and mentally exhausting to redecorate a new space, yet again. No matter how much, or how little, space you can dedicate to your little one’s playroom, there are three key principles to keep in mind.
Lots of Storage
You’re going to need bins, drawers, crates, and all manner of containers to organize and keep all those precious toys out of sight when not in use. This pattern of organization also helps encourage healthy habits when teaching young ones how to tidy up and find things easily. (I know, easier said than done, but it’s a good theory!) Get creative with the storage systems out there, but don’t knock good old bins from the dollar store either. All you really need is a variety of bins in different sizes along with some sort of shelving unit to house said containers. You can transform a closet or fill the space with bookcases. Don’t forget about storage for craft supplies and books! There are also dress-up clothes to consider. An old trunk or suitcase can serve here, or you can hang the firefighter uniform and Elsa dress in a closet or on a tension rod positioned between two of the aforementioned shelving units. Keep the rod at “kid-height” and they’ll have easy access (and no excuse not to return the garments during cleanup time).
Little minds need time to stretch and strengthen their imaginations, so be sure to let this play space serve that purpose. If you’re artistically inclined, think about painting a fun wall mural with your children’s favorite scenery—the ocean, mountains, or even an amusement park! Just remember, if you’re renting, you’ll have to prime and paint over it when you leave. You can also find peel-and-stick wallpaper and clings that can serve as temporary graffiti.
Play forts, tents, and teepees are awesome playroom additions that kids will love. An added layer of privacy can enhance their play and really help them feel like they’re in the world of their choosing. If your space is small, think about finding collapsible structures, but if you’ve got more room to play with (and some carpentry skills), you could really blow their little minds with playhouses and even indoor swings!
Remember to include a basic table and chairs. Give kids space to spread out, draw, assemble things, and read in a comfortable way. Kid-sized furniture not only helps them feel like they have their own, custom-fitted space but also prepares them for a learning environment if they aren’t already in school.
Here’s a tip: If you make the space so comfy they won’t want to leave, they won’t! Invest in some cushy floor tiles or rugs if your space isn’t carpeted (kids love being on the floor). Floor pillows, poufs, and bean bags are also great alternatives to actual furniture that they could destroy (let’s be real). Soft, dreamy spaces with fluffy textures could help them get cozy enough they might even drift off to dreamland. You can find cool play rugs with racetracks or dollhouse scenes to make their play even more dimensional. Options abound!
The internet is replete with DIY ideas on how to transform a walk-in closet or an entire room into an Instagram-worthy playroom. Just search for any of the ideas mentioned here and remember to stick to the three basic principles for DIY playroom success!