the toys were winning

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September 22, 2013 by Ellen V

I was inspired by this blog and this blog within the last week or so and have been itching to reorganize our first floor closets ever since. Eric had an in-town conference this week, so between Friday and Saturday I worked through three first floor closets and one bottle of wine. It has been a pretty successful weekend.

This summer we finally decided it was time to give in to the take over of toddler toys. We cleared off a pretty living room bookshelf filled with (gasp!) books, and filled it with more toddler-friendly toys and board books. A few weeks later, our pretty little play kitchen from Papa K arrived. Plus, we have a big, happy red ottoman filled with toddler toys, too. And that’s not even counting the basement play area or her bedroom. Sheesh. Something’s gotta give.

Over the last week, I’ve been mentally rearranging our three beautiful first floor closets to make space dedicated to toys and reclaim some of our living room. We have three closets on the first floor: Closet 1 holds coats, boots, and winter gear as well as dog toys and random spill over, Closet 2 holds kitchen gear and dishes that doesn’t fit in our limited cupboards, games, and random spill over, and Closet 3 holds almost nothing, but it’s located in the study which is Eric’s Space and I want to use that closet as little as possible.

Closets 1 and 3 are set up as coat closets, while Closet 2 is more of a pantry with lots of shelving. Closet 2, then, is the clear winner for a couple shelves dedicated to Jane Gear.

Eric cleaned out Closet 3 the other day, so I left that be. I figured I could use some floor space if I really needed it. I knew there would be a few things that are rarely used but taking up serious space in Closet 1 (a picnic basket and a large basket filled with dog toys, to be specific), so I moved them to the back corner immediately and then shut the door and walked away.

I got down and dirty with Closet 1 first. There were some odds and ends that didn’t belong there that I could pull out right away. The busy board my dad built for Jane was put in the basement where it will be noticed and used more often. Some project supplies had been gathering dust, so I took my stuff down to the basement right away and gathered Eric’s into a bag for him to get to when he has time. Cleaning my craft area will be a project for another day. The rest of the closet contained coats and winter gear, mostly, which were appropriate to the space. Hooray!

Two down, one to go.Closet 2 was the biggest challenge. I wanted at least two clear shelves for baskets of toys for Jane, but the closet was jam-packed to start so I knew I would have my work cut out for me. First things first: easy things to remove included 1) some of the parfait glasses we inherited from Eric’s late grammy. I kept a few out for fun and fancy times, but the rest are tucked away for a later date. 2) a few vases and linens that I love, but aren’t used often enough to warrant prime real estate, 3) some fancy dishes we don’t see ourselves using for another couple years, until we have some faculty dinner party or something and 4) the bin of gift wrapping gear, which got transferred to the now open and airy Closet 1.

While I was in the closets, I clean up and organized a bit. The shelves were wiped down, Dallas hair removed from the nooks and crannies of the floor, and the odds and ends tucked away or made more accessible. The result? Yep, one and a half fully cleared shelves!

Rather than beat a dead horse, I settled for one and a half and cheerfully gathered easy-to-store items of Jane’s that could be easily accessed by us, a sitter, or anyone else. There are bins for crayons, play doh, and other art supplies. A large basket contains dress up clothes, right at the floor where Jane can get to it. I stacked puzzles in the remaining space, as she really loves to play with them but they often get tucked away somewhere so they won’t get dumped constantly. This way, she can play and then put away.

There are still plenty of toys out. Jane still has full access to her play kitchen as well as letter magnets, Duplos, a doll, books, and a bus, and her trucks. In her room are lots of stuffed animals as well as some standard blocks and lots more books. And the basement contains an assortment of larger push toys, shape sorters, musical instruments and more. The girl is not deprived. But my living room looks like a place where adults are allowed again, and I am happy.

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