Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Creating Nathan's Space

For the last 7 years I have been living in "temporary" housing of one form or another. For three years is was back and forth between a dorm room on campus and "my room" at my parent's house, which actually switched several times. I would come home, walk into my room only to find my brother's furniture in there It felt very strange. For the last four years it has been a rented apartment. These spaces have all offered limited ability to really customize the space and make it my own. It's been difficult for me because I'm the kind of person that really bases my mood off of my environment. The inability to make my living space truly my own has had a negative impact on my emotions. 

Some of this made decorating a nursery for a baby really hard too. I could choose bedding, the color of my rocking chair and crib, but not much else. A few pieces of art on the walls, but certainly not paint or carpeting of any kind. It was a lot of working with what I had. I put together Nathan's nursery in our first home with great care. But we only lived there until he was about five months old. I never really put his room together here. 

Until now. 

We recently decided to transition Nathan into a "big boy bed." We have been casually potty training him and I felt that to really get that underway he would need to be able to get in and out of bed himself. I also wanted a room that he could use for himself. I wanted a space that was totally his. This is mostly due to the fact that we don't have a designated play area in our apartment. I think we spend a lot of time telling him not to touch things in the living room. I thought he needed a space where that wasn't the case. 

We settled on doing a Montessori style floor bed for a number of reasons. First, it was cheaper. Nate's crib transitions to a bed, but we wanted Eleanor to be able to use it because the crib that she was in was older and not as sturdy. As she got bigger I felt that she needed something that would stand up to her and I just wasn't sure the other crib was up to the challenge. I didn't feel that spending $80 on an interim bed for Nathan was a wise investment. Secondly, I knew that a floor bed would be easier for him to get in and out of on his own. It didn't require railings or extra hardware to make it safe. He can get in and out of it completely on his own. It is perfect. 

When we moved his crib out of the room I also set about making sure that everything in his room was toddler friendly. Obviously we had already child proofed everything, but I wanted things to be at his level so he could reach his own toys and books. Having everything set up like that meant that he could play independently and he was able to clean everything up by himself too. 

His room still doesn't have a lot of decoration, but it is getting there. Right now it at least feels like the space belongs to him. I've been trying to add things that make it his. I took some of the projects that he made in daycare, which had previously been stuck to our refrigerator, and put them up on his wall with some ribbon and clothespins. We also have memory/ribbon board that we purchased for him ages ago that I want to use for family pictures. Nathan loves to look at photos, especially of family. He has probably looked through my wedding photos a hundred times! I'm sure he would be really excited to have some of those in his room. 

He loves his space. He has actually done a surprisingly good job of keeping it picked up. He puts his toys away every night before he goes to bed now. Having a room he can be proud of probably goes a long way in teaching him personal responsibility for his things and his area. 

Hopefully it won't be too terribly long before I can make the rest of our home feel as inviting and personal as Nathan's room does. In the mean time I've noticed that he and Eleanor have been spending a lot more time in there than they have in the living room. Because of this they have been spending more time together, without parental involvement. When they "play" in the living room they tend to gravitate toward mom or dad rather than each other. Having a child-friendly space has really meant a lot more bonding for them too. 

The very best part of all of this was the cost.... 

  • Bed: Crib mattress from Nate's crib (baby shower gift), free
  • Bookshelf: From my parent's basement, free
  • Car rug: Ikea, $12
  • Bedding: Crib sheets and a fleece tie blanket I made, $25
  • Wire shelving: Leftover from my dorm room, free
  • Toy drawers: Re-purposed from somewhere else in the house, free
  • Wooden Toy bench/storage (you can see the corner of it in one of the pictures): Mine from when I was a kid (made by my grandpa), free
  • Wall Art: ribbon and clothespins left over from other craft projects, free

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