Here’s a newsflash: toddlers have opinions. It’s a physical phenomenon — tiny little body jam-packed with more will and personal taste than a room full of politicians. It’s an interesting time, being a parent of a toddler, because while they’re convinced they can decide and you want to give them that freedom, they also still seem so little.
My daughters have always shared a room, and though they’re only 20 months apart, I’ve still had to find ways to accommodate their different needs, phases and tastes in that co-space. Not to mention, I’ve had to find ways to make it a room that I’m happy to be in too. After all, there’s nothing worse than sitting on the floor playing dollhouse and being distracted by the color palette of a place. So I have created a tried-and-true toddler room that’s made my girls happy and kept me happy too!
Here are 6 tips to make a space that mom and kid can agree on.
- Embrace every color. Here’s the thing about toddler opinions — without life experience to back them up, they shift easily and often. If you make a red room because your 2-year-old loves and lives and breathes red, odds are, before the paint has even dried, said toddler will decide that purple is her favorite color instead. But if you call the room a “rainbow” room, not only does it satisfy the flavor of the moment, everything matches, no matter what you do.
- Bulletin boards and handmade art. There are lots of cute prints for nurseries, and a lot of it transitions well as baby grows. But I have found that my daughters are positive that their artwork is the masterpiece–and, let’s face it, as their mom I kind of agree. So rather than worry about wall decor, I hung mini-bulletin boards around. It makes for a designated space to hang art, and fills up a big blank wall. It’s also good for collecting treasures that are important to your kid but not to you. The flier they picked up at the coffee shop down the street? not really art, but hung on the bulletin board, it becomes part of a collection.
- Become a box mom. I know you know what this means. Rather than face the task of constantly organizing and reorganizing your kid’s room, just buy a bunch of baskets and boxes. It works for toys (I love the wicker baskets that slide into square shelves), and it works for treasures. (Are you sensing a pattern here?) I think the thing about being a kid is that everything seems exciting, worthy and important, and I don’t want to squash the desire to uncover and savor. I’ve passed along Birchbox boxes or found beautiful printed boxes on sale at Target, and these become the perfect storage for special things stashed under the bed or beneath a bookshelf.
- Establish some stations. My kids are far more likely to entertain themselves if their things are accessible. And I certainly don’t want toys all over my house; so that means they need to be out in their room. Unofficially, I’ve set my daughters’ room up in “stations,” so to speak. The easel fits in one corner, so the art box and a basket of coloring books goes underneath it. Ta da! It’s the art area. A teepee is the perfect place for hiding all the Frozen blankets I don’t want on the beds; so if I add a couple of baskets of books, that corner transforms into the reading nook!
- High-shelving to keep things safe. In order to keep the room from being overrun with toys and kid-stuff only, I do display a few items that I think are special — framed photos, ceramic piggy banks that were gifted when my girls were babies, and the sand art that they made at the street fair but that I would never want them gallivanting around the house with. A shelf just out of reach makes it a part of the space, but I don’t have to worry about those things being played with and broken.
- Embrace the magic. It’s still a kid room! Remember what it was like to have your room as a child, your special space? As much control as I can have over my kids at this age, I don’t want to lord over their personalities and independence. I try to find ways to make it fun–twinkle lights and pom-pom banners from the ceiling–things that I would have thought were beautiful and magical when I was young.
How have you tackled the transition from nursery to big kid room?
Photo by Julia Elizabeth for Lucky Penny. Check out the rest of her kiddos’ room here.