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It is Flashback Friday! We’ve been in our house for a little over three years. I thought it would be fun for the next few Fridays to highlight some projects I’ve completed.
This story starts where most of my stories start: at the ReStore. I love that place. I find it so fun to just wander the aisles and think of what I could do with the furniture if I had unlimited time and resources. All the possibilities, all the hope for new beginnings. It’s my happy place.
One day I took real noticed of a television armoire that had been there for weeks. It was obviously a couple decades old and designed for a box tv. (Have you ever tried to explain box televisions to a child? Me neither, they’d never understand.) It was a huge piece of furniture, heavy af, and would never fit in my car, but I saw the potential of it being a really cute dress up station. I looked at the price out of curiosity and kept walking.
The following weeks as I returned to the Restore I noticed the price drop and drop and drop. Until it was $20. And I decided, despite not knowing how to get it home, I would buy it. The loading specialist were not pleased with how I “loaded” it on top of my car. They all swore no liability for what was about to happen and no returns. They thought I was crazy. What can I say? I live life on the edge and somehow those risks pay off.
I drove the armoire home and sadly the glass door did break, however not because how I loaded it, but because of how I casually stepped on it. The glass door was beveled with 80/90’s style brass iron work. The door could have given the piece a real fairytale vibe, but the structure was still usable and with the brass element out of the picture my color choices for the piece were endless.
The purple paint I found in the “mistakes bin” at Home Depot, there was just a pint and cost about four dollars. I painted the TV stand inside and out. Changed the hardware and added a wooden dowel for hangers. I shopped my house and found the dark blue bins which I have had for years. I found the teal bins at Target. After my Target purchase I decide the closet dowel needed to match, so I took the teal bins to Michael’s acrylic aisle and found a matching hue, Jamaican Sea.
And Bam! a toddler size closet for about $40.
When I first saw the armoire in the previous months, I had envisioned a dress up station, with doctor/fireman/princess cloths hanging up, hats on the shelves, dress up shoes on the thin shelf, and accessories in the drawer. The kind of piece you would find in a playroom or daycare. However I decided since it was coming home with me it needed to function for my home and decided to turn it into a toddler closet.
I wanted this to be a piece that encouraged independence. When I was pregnant with my first I read Montessori from the Start which has influenced many aspects of my home. I’m always trying to set up systems that encourage kids to do for themselves. Like getting dressed, knowing how to picking up after themselves with clearly marked bins with words and pictures, or having cups within reach by the refrigerator so they can get their own water. I’ll never forget when my dad visited and couldn’t understand why there was a step stool in almost every room, “You’re short, but not that short!” I’m only 5″4′, however my toddler is even shorter, and therefor needs even more help.
One benefit of creating this ease of use for my kids is I also consciously can make other activities or choices rather difficult in comparison. If certain toys are easily within reach and easily put away, then they hesitate and ask for help with harder to reach items, like paint, which I don’t want my 3 year old doing unsupervised. And we don’t have arguments about wearing shorts and summer dresses when it is 50 degrees out, because they can’t see them. Out of site out of mind.
The bin on top is designated for out of season cloths (shorts in the winter, sweaters in the summer, the things you don’t want to argue about) and clothing that are the next size up. I find having these at fingers reach to be handy, as seasons change or babies grow.
The top shelf bin contains: sleepwear. The middle shelf bin: tops. The bottom: bottoms. Crazy right? Obviously the dress rack holds her dresses and the drawer contains her socks and underwear. She does need help getting her sleepwear down but we are always there to assist her at bedtime. She get’s joy out of being strong enough to lift her “tops bin” off the shelf. I love seeing her gain pride in her strength.
It’s been functioning really well for us for the last 2 years. We don’t argue about what she’ll wear and she does an okay job of picking out her outfits. Toddler style is hilarious and sometimes inspirational. I’m lucky my three-year-old, Maisie, is not like my first, Lila. Despite all the systems I created, Lila, now 8, never took to dressing herself at this age. She is very independent now though, she keeps her room neat and even does her own laundry. Every kid is different. Every stage of struggle and growth is just a stage and eventually changes.
I also have a bin next to the armoire that is available for cloths that no longer fit. It’s nice to have a place so close to toss items that Maisie has out grown. Kids grow so fast. One day a shirt fits. The next day it’s a Chris Farley reference. It cuts down on the clutter to toss it into a bin and know when the bin is full I can hand it down or donate it.
Last I need to recommend this little device. I’m obsessed with our Hatch. It is a sound machine, a night light and an okay to wake alarm clock. You can customize it to your child’s needs. I love it because I can control it from my phone, which was very handy while I sleep trained Maisie. With this machine I set clear boundaries about bedtime and helped her get closer to the ultimate goal of staying in bed all night and sleeping until it was a reasonable time to get up. I’d tell her “The light will be on for 15 minutes so you can look at your books, then it will go off and the white noise will go on. I want you to go to sleep. If you wake up and the green light (that we have set to go off at an “okay to wake time”) is not on, you need to go back to sleep. When the green light is on it is okay to call for us or leave your room.” If she woke up during the night, it was easy to repeat that expectation: “The light is not green, you need to go back to sleep.” She would cry, but depending on the time (3am: fuss a bit and go back to bed! 5:30am: okay cry for 10min while I make coffee, then I’ll turn the green light on in the kitchen via my phone and enter the room. We can celebrating how she “waited” for the green light. Then the next day maybe push it to 6. then 6:30…) It is amazing! It can be set with multiple colors and sounds and times and yes, if she is putting up a fight about bedtime I have been known to turn down the light gradually and turn up the white noise to lull her to sleep without me entering her room. I win that battle almost every time. It’s been working great for us for over 2 years. I’d recommend it to anyone who is interested in sleep training a difficult sleeper.