Living Room Play Corner for Small Spaces: Tour and Tips

There's something really enticing about watching a child create something with their little hands and it's even more enticing to see the finished product. It's amazing o see how these fairly new humans learn to manipulate items like scissors or glue or paint. How they hold their tools in curled fists and how they see the paper and projects before them transform with each brush stroke or glued pompom. It's clumsy and sometimes without direction but with each creative movement, they're learning.

That's what inspired me to finally create a little art section for Maddox in his play area. He's a wild boy, yet when he's sitting down creating: his eyes are glazed over, his tongue is out, and I can see the wires moving in his head. And I like things to be in front of him and at his level, allowing him independence and the ability to make his own choices. That can be hard given the lack of space we have. So I utilized the play corner in the living room and used the window sill as his shelf. I was nervous at first. Paints and glues and tiny pieces openly at his disposal. If I went into another room, all chaos could break lose. Googly eyes sprawled on the floor, rainbow paints splashing our white walls, pieces of feathers we would be finding for weeks. This is what a mother's nightmare is made of. Yet, he loves it. Loves it. And I love it. And there have been no nightmares. He lets me know if he wants to play with something. Having it all out in front of him, lets him pick and choose. Before, it is in our cupboards, sloppily placed in a bowl. Occasionally he would come up to me and ask to paint. But most of the time I had to initiate it. 

Living in a one bedroom with a child and two adults can be difficult. However, I find such satisfaction in it. Our apartments are beautiful with high ceilings, high windows, gray cabinets, an open concept, and all the fixings I love. Those rare moments when I start to feel cluttered, I take that as a test to see what I can get rid of and find out what I've been unnecessarily hoarding. This space never feels like too much or too little. As humans, it seems we are always searching for more: more space, more money, more time and we forget how to work with what we already have. When I find myself dreaming of something bigger, I remind myself we're content where we are right now and something bigger will come into our path when necessary. Right now, this is a perfect living situation for our family even as our two year old grows older.

Admittedly, I sometimes get bummed we don't have a separate play area for Maddox. And I think that's because I feel like it's necessary even though logically I know it's not. He's got a little section in the bedroom next to his bed with his bike, his books on his shelves, and some stuffed animals. In our walk-in closet, we have a basket full of toys we rotate out from the living room. He's got another bike and his helmet in our hallway closet, some beach toys, a beach chair, and a soft bat + ball. The key is to keep things simple, rotate toys out, and go outside.

Arts + Crafts Supplies We Love

These items are so versatile and gives children endless options to create masterpieces with. I have two trays, one wood and one wicker, that I use for sensory and learning activities. We also have a shelf with a sketchbook, paint pad, small set of papers, and cardboard trucks. 

Toys We Love

We try to use open-ended items as it allows imagination to flow freely and open their senses. The silks can be a fort or a cape or water and rocks and mountains. The blocks can be a high tower or a castle or a boat. The rocks can be a phone or a castle's stepping stones or a car. Peg dolls can be family members or knights or a grocer. It's amazing what we can come up with in a day.

Small Space Tips

  • Give Everything a Home: don't allow anything to be left loose. It keeps clean-up simple and keeps clutter to a minimum.
  • Don't Crowd It: Minimize your stuff to maximize your space and mind. A small space can't be overzealous with toys because it makes it more difficult for a child to choose what they want to play with and there's a higher chance they'll make a mess instead.
  • Understand Your Limitations: A play kitchen may be able to find a space in your home. However, a play kitchen AND a water table, may not. A small teddy bear may be fine but a huge 2-foot bear may not. Understand what will fit in your space and don't go overboard. Your child is more than likely content enough with what they already have. 
  • Storage Space: These Ikea Shelves have come in handy. Instead of having the books in a little basket, he's able to see them and it frees up room on the floor. Also, small shelving units are great in corners to place toys into. It keeps things organized while simultaneously allowing your child to directly see the toy options. 

Do you live in a small space with children? What tips can you give? Do you love it or are you itching to upgrade?

Celebration of Motherhood

You are a universe of bones, flesh, blood, mind, and spirit created in my womb. And yet, even though I created you - you created me. A mother. A mother of strength, courage, kindness, hope. You tore down what I was and you saved me. You turned me into something better. No matter how good I was before, you have made me something more. You and I have found home in one another. A safe place. Everyday we are weaving together and simultaneously growing apart. Yin and yang. A scale always teetering but always finding balance. The umbilical cord may have been cut at birth, but there will always be an invisible trace of it no matter how far from me you are. An invisible connection of love we'll always know is there.

A little over two years ago, I was molded into a mother and every day, I grow stronger and wiser as one. Unconditional love fuels me. It guides me along this path of beautiful imperfection. It takes my hand when I'm scared or confused or worried I'm not doing enough. Love is my light that shimmers bright no matter the situation. Love isn't perfect. It's messy and difficult. It requires attention and maintenance. It requires mistakes and learning. But it's always here. Growing like plants from nourishment, gentle hands, and a consistent sun.

I am grateful for all the mothers in my life who have taught me compassion, strength, resilience, perseverance, patience, kindness, gentleness. No matter how incredible and fulfilling, motherhood is a daily battle. Thanks to the mothers in my life, the mothers I can lean on, the mothers I can go to for advice, the mothers who are just as confused and worried as I, the mothers who hang out with me, the mothers who mother similar to me, the mothers who laugh with me, the mothers who love me, the mothers who support me. Thanks to all of you, I have journeyed into motherhood with much more ease and grace than I would have otherwise. Thank you. Deeply, sincerely. My motherhood is created with pieces of yours. It's wrapped into my kindness, my love, my knowledge and they all thread together to create who I am as a mother. And I am ever so grateful for all of you that have crossed my path. 

And major gratitude belongs to my mother. She is the reason I'm able to write this right now. She has, over the years, become one of my best friends. She has been by my side through my own journey of motherhood and has been nothing but supportive, helpful, and caring. I'm also thankful for David for being part of the reason I am a mother. His encouragement and love has lifted me to new heights. And to his mother for creating such a wonderful, nurturing, and loving son. Her compassion is inspiring.

Today we hold space for:

  • those that have given birth + are raising littles
  • those that are trying to conceive
  • those that are unable to conceive
  • those that using a surrogate
  • those that have fostered littles
  • those that have said goodbye to littles much too soon
  • those that have lost their mothers
  • those that have an amazing relationship with their mothers
  • those that have mothered and have become grandmothers
  • those that have strained relations with their mothers
  • fathers that have taken on the role of mothers
  • those that choose not to be mothers

Shayna Shattelroe

25 years old. Mama to Maddox. Word weaver. Lover of love. Coffee addict. Psychological science student. 

A woman of curious nature, my name is Shayna. I am wild & reserved. Humbled & proud. Quiet & clamorous. Strange & familiar. I live in the trees of New England typing away as lifestyle blogger. You can always find me with a coffee cup in one hand and a book in the other.

Blogging since 2005, I’ve had an innumerable amount of blogs on a vast number of platforms. Finally, I’ve found one to call home: The Lovely Cicada. This blog is a piece of myself I extend to you.

Exploring Trails in the Rain

Spring is here and so are rain showers. However, adventures don't stop for us regardless of the weather. Yesterday, we visited Wadsworth Falls State Park with our friends to search for waterfalls. The air was warm when we arrived with gray skies hovering above us. The park had a little beach directly off the parking lot and through a small, covered bridge but the water was nonexistent. The kids ran and sat and felt the sand fall through their fingers and climb into their shoes and wiggle around under them. My friend, Brittni, spotted a little bone hiding in the sand and pointed to it with her foot. I grabbed it immediately and am excited to find out what it came from. 

After the sandy beach, we began to walk the trails. Small and slow drops of rain started to lay on our faces. Brittni forgot her baby carrier for her littlest one so she trooped it with a stroller. We went up through stone and then followed the trail to the right where it became Earth again. Then the path evened out for a few and under our feet, was dirt and tree roots. Halfway through our walk, the rain came down quicker but never pouring. The kids were wet - one wrapped up in a blanket and one in a jean jacket but still smiling, laughing, running, and enjoying themselves.

Eventually, we came to a crossroads with a sign saying "Little Falls, Big Falls" pointing in opposite directions. Both paths were rocky and the rain didn't seem to be letting up so we decided to turn around. On the way back, the kids threw leaves and enjoyed inspecting mossy stone and played hide and seek behind big tree trunks. It was a perfect day filled with rain and dirt and mud and sand and trees. We'll definitely be coming back, better prepared and ready to finally find the waterfalls. 

Maddox's romper: Rags to Raches.
Maddox's teething necklace: Full Moon Mothering

There were signs for this mansion and wedding venue near the park so after we left, we followed them, not knowing what to expect. The structure of the building is gorgeous and there are multiple trails that lead into the woods throughout the property. It's such a beautiful place for those that like extravagant weddings. It's not for me, but it's perfect for someone and it was nice to find this little hidden gem in our state.