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?

Our Trip to Walden Pond & Thoreau's Cabin

Our Trip to Walden Pond & Thoreau's Cabin

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” 

Since 9th grade, this quote has always resonated with me. I remember one summer I was reading Walden and imagined what it would be like to simply live in the woods and be able to write. No sounds except the audible chirp of crickets surrounding me, the rustling of leaves, sticks breaking, and a fire crackling. I was infatuated with Thoreau. He lived the life I had dreamed of - simplicity paired with writing. It was admirable and honorable. One of my aim screen-names back in the day was actually "Je Suis Thoreau" meaning "I am Thoreau" in French. 

For whatever reason, I never actually made it up to the pond until a spur of the moment decision yesterday and I'm so happy we went on the day we did. The ride to Concord, Massachusetts was absolutely stunning. The trees were just beginning to wane from their peak. The autumn hues were miraculous, the weather was perfect, and we were completely engrossed in trees. 

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How To Make Homemade Reusable Cloth Baby Wipes

The Lovely Cicada | Homemade Baby Wipes

When I was pregnant with Maddox, I was extremely set on cloth diapering. I thought, "what's better than reusable diapers that create very little waste and are much more comfortable for my little?" I researched all different brands, all different types, learned about prefolds, fitteds, etc, how to clean, how many I may need, looked at all the cute prints, and so forth. Sadly, it was a short-lived dream. 

I knew it would be difficult for me. On top of having to clean the house, feed myself and my partner, feed my cluster-feeding little one, do the laundry, hang out with my little while he napped on my shoulder because he'd wake up otherwise, and find time to not lose my mind and feel human - I knew cloth diapering would be too much for me (don't let this dictate what you do, I am simply easily disorganized and overwhelmed). At the apartment we were living in at the time, the laundry room was two flights of stairs down into the basement and a slight trek . Add that to all the other laundry I had to do and I decided against it.

So, I went for disposable diapers. I don't have any regrets. My son has never had any issues with rashes although the guilt still lingers of how many diapers we've thrown out within the last year and a half. However, I knew it was a much better choice for my family. If I were to have another child, I would definitely cloth diaper. I'd be much more comfortable in my mama skin next time around to navigate everything. 

The Lovely Cicada | Homemade Baby Wipes

Anyway, a year and a half later I decided to switch to cloth baby wipes from disposables and my gosh you guys, why didn't I do this sooner? It's so simple, much softer on his butt, helpful to the environment, saves us money, and I'm slightly tempted to grab a couple cloth diapers as well. I have a friend who has switched over a few months ago and never has any issues.

The recipe is extremely simple and honestly, I eyeball it every time I make it so you can modify it as you see fit and depending on how many wipes you want to make at a time. 

Homemade Cloth Baby Wipes

  • baby washcloths OR cut-up flannels
  • tupperware container or old wipes container 
  • about 2 cups boiled or distilled water 
  • 1 teaspoon liquid Castile soap (I used Dr. Bronner's Lavender but they also have unscented)
  • 1 teaspoon of oil (coconut, jojoba, olive, or almond are great options)
  • 3 drops of essential oil (if you are using unscented and if your baby's skin isn't sensitive)
  • optional: 1 teaspoon vitamin E oil

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients together in a bowl, starting with (warm) water first.
  2. Stir. 
  3. Add essential oils and/or vitamin E if desired. 
  4. Grab your washcloths and soak them in the mixture, one at a time.
  5. Ring them out.
  6. Fold them neatly and place in container. 
  7. Voila! Use as needed and enjoy. 

A couple other tips: if you don't want them to be reusable but still homemade, cut half a roll of paper towels, take out the cardboard center, place them in your container, and pour the mixture over until soaked. You can also carry the mixture in a spray bottle and wet your cloths as needed. When you're out and about remember to carry a wet bag with you so you have a place to carry the used wipes. I used one of my Ipsy make-up bags but you can get a wet bag here

Do you already make your own? Tell me about it in the comments!