Before moving house, my partner and I would dream about one day owning a home that had enough space for a whole room of toys and nothing else, where you could shut the door on the mess and never look back, cosying up on the sofa in the minimalist adult room with a glass of wine; no mess; no brightly coloured bits of crap everywhere. The Play Room Dream.
When we bought the home we are in now, we believed our Play Room Dream had become a reality; a conservatory with enough space to call a "Play Room." In the beginning, we threw in an Ikea storage unit, rammed with toys and imprisoned our daughter in there by way of a baby gate and naively assumed that she would just love being in there with her toys, giving us the freedom to cook and clean on occasions and to drink a hot drink in peace.
Firstly, no kid wants to be in prison. Not even with a stash of brightly coloured crap to keep them occupied; they don't want toys, they want us, every hour of every minute of every day. What actually happened was that our daughter would sit at the gate whilst we were making a hot drink or cooking a meal, throwing toys over it and through the gaps whilst screaming hysterically, even though we were only inches away from her. Eventually, getting her to go in there became a battle, so we removed the baby gate, thinking that she may actually want to go in there to play if it felt less like prison.
Children have an inbuilt sensor whereby they can hack into your true desires and intentions the moment you think them; she knew we wanted her to play with her toys in the Play Room, a room we created all for her with brightly coloured storage boxes and characters adorning the walls.
And because of this, she didn't want to go in there. Ever.
So naturally, what actually happened was that the toys got packed away in the Play Room (by us) every evening, whilst for the rest of the day, she would take her toys into the tiny downstairs loo, into the lounge, up the stairs, into the hallway, on the landing, in our bedroom.
Toys everywhere but the sodding Play Room.
We have since given up on our Play Room dream and have morphed the conservatory into rooms which replicate the rest of the house, a bit of furniture with a pile of toys chucked in for good measure. Sometimes, friends come by and say things like,
"I so wish we had space for a Play Room," and they tell me about beautiful ideas they've swooned over on Pinterest and how they dream of a No Toys Room. I remember my own dreamy Pinterest "Play Room Ideas" board, full of amazing storage hacks, indoor slides, murals for the walls and blackboard chalked zones. It was all but a dream.
I've since come to terms with having our Play Room dreams dashed and accepted our house as one big Fun House, full of toys piled in every corner, trip hazards in every room and brightly coloured crap everywhere. Perhaps I'll begin a new Pinterest board on ways to incorporate brightly coloured plastics into every room, who knows, maybe it will be the new minimalist.
Minimal is over-rated anyway.