Each morning following breakfast, Chi-Chi, Muffy and I stand at the doorway and bid farewell to Daddy as he departs for another day at the office. As Daddy’s car disappears down the driveway, Chi-Chi turns to me and declares, “I go to work now Mommy”. He scampers off and quickly occupies himself with the serious business of playtime.
Chi-Chi and Muffy share an office that would be the envy of any top executive. Tucked into a cozy 3’x4’ corner of our living room, their “place of business” is snug, inviting and beautiful. With windows facing East and South, the play nook is brimming with a warm natural light throughout the day. The low sills offer the children a breathtaking view of the wildflowers, trees, sky and ocean. The space is filled with natural, open-ended toys that promote creativity and spark imagination. An antique hooked rug and vintage bookcase add charm and character to the atmosphere of the space. Even I tend to gravitate to this corner of the room. I enjoy sitting on the mat in the morning sunlight, sipping a cup of tea while assisting with Chi-Chi’s ironing or taste testing Muffy’s wool carrot creations.
A few months ago, I found myself sitting at the dining room table late one night, pencil and sketchbook in hand. I was drafting potential layouts for a large playroom in the basement. I cringed as dollar signs flashed before my eyes. I was feeling frustrated and exasperated. Our carefully decorated home was being invaded by an army of ugly, loud, plastic toys. All this “stuff” was occupying valuable space and was detracting from the aesthetically pleasing environment my husband and I had proudly created. After reading up on the Waldorf and Montessori approaches, I realized that a child’s environment and playthings deserve the same attention, care and aesthetic considerations that we adults grant ourselves
I set to work on our toy box, earmarking unused and redundant items to be shipped off to a local charity. Obviously, it was non-negotiable that certain loved and cherished favorites remain. My husband and I vowed, however, that on a go forward basis, we would seek out more natural and beautiful options when selecting toys for the children. I’ve always found that Chi-Chi and Muffy are drawn to toys that are displayed in an organized and pleasing fashion. As I result, I’ve sought out creative display options for their playthings. An antique pine shelf, located in a handy spot off the kitchen, attractively displays wooden blocks, hand made finger puppets and beanbags.
My battle against the bulging toy box helped me discover that toys and child-friendly spaces can actually enhance a home's décor as opposed to detract from it. My purging process has simplied our storage solutions and the nightly clean-up as there are fewer toys to "manage". Chi-Chi and Muffy's corner office has turned a lonely and empty spot into a welcoming, cozy nook where adults and children can enjoy a moment of escape!