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Like any parents, we have accumulated a ridiculous number of toys. It’s fair to say that a huge proportion of them linger at the bottom of nicely-designed bags, and a few get preferential treatment (both from us and Bea). Occasionally, we’ll put things away because we feel she’s outgrown them – though these will be back out again in a few months when baby 2 arrives and can actually move about a bit. A year ago, we moved into our new house, and we’re fortunate enough to have a playroom where we can shut the door and ignore most of what’s left after a busy afternoon. There are a couple of ‘big ticket’ items that move between the garage and the room (trampoline and ‘ball pool’) as they just take up too much floor space. I’m sure there are huge creations we have yet to discover/foisted upon us that will add to this, but for now these’ll do!

When setting out the playroom, we didn’t do anything too fancy. Just made sure we had a table next to the sofa (mainly for resting tea on) and then everything else was kind of in themed piles, kind of like a budget pint-sized theme park:

  •  The ‘music zone’ – home of the piano and a range of shaking and squeaking things
  • The ‘art zone’ – where you’ll find a plastic easel, a selection of half-destroyed crayons and our favourite, the Aqua Doodle mat (you need one of these!).
  • The ‘transport zone’ – where we’ve put anything with wheels and tracks. One of her favourite things at the childminder’s is the garage and cars
  • The ‘cuddly toy pile’ – pretty self-explanatory. Contains robots, princesses, dinosaurs, baby Annabelles and the obligatory range of African safari endangered animals
  • The ‘library’ – a wide-ranging selection of modern and classic titles, including French and German board books and some others (Nutcracker, I’m looking at you) that we hope Bea forgets about when we ask her to choose one
  • The ‘Foodie zone’ – We picked up a second-hand play kitchen on Facebook, with loads of food. She loves playing with all the bits and putting things in the oven (onions being her favourite at the moment!), which obviously as #cheffydaddy I’m pretty happy about. This is also where she keeps her tea party stuff. My addiction to tea has definitely rubbed off on her as she regularly (and sometimes quite forcefully) brings me nice little imaginary cups which never need refilling or washing up! Still need to teach her that it’s generally socially unacceptable to drink directly from the teapot…
  • The ‘puzzle pile’ – hidden under a table, with the knowledge that all the pieces will be somewhere, even if not immediately retrievable.
  • The ‘random bags’ – last but not least are the staple of any good toy collection – bags of random acquistions that can’t be categorised and are best left in a free-for-all bag. There’s a lot of noise-making plastic in these.

Just writing that list has made me realise how ridiculous it is that she has so much stuff! No wonder stuff gets neglected. Anyway, we made a decision to change things up a bit today, thinking Bea would walk in and say ‘Wow, this is incredible, I love what you’ve done with the place.’ Sadly, the transformation wasn’t really worthy of a daytime BBC programme, but it did at least change the grown-ups perceptions of the room, which is just as important – you spend a lot of time in there, and there’s only so many times you can do very similar things without struggling to find the same enthusiasm. It’s also a LOT easier than redecorating.

We even noticed that by setting out the two tables in more accessible places, they’re now perfect for her height and she can stand up and do puzzles on the table – something I’ll admit I sort of considered but not that much. She’s recently really started enjoying the challenge of puzzles, which is great as she didn’t have the patience before!

Check out the amazing (haha!) before and after photos to see the ‘new’ playroom!

Must add before you see the photos (and mostly as an apology to Lucy!) that I started moving stuff around before thinking it would be sensible to take a ‘before’ picture…

Also wondering what it will look like in a few months time…


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