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Whew, toddler life! I'm still a newbie at this stage, and very much aware of the long road of toddler-isms that still lie ahead, but it amazes me how quickly things progress from months 12 to 14. Perhaps it's just the major milestone of crawling to walking that is a total game changer. There is no doubt, I have an extremely busy, highly active, curious toddler with an eight-second attention span on my hands. So as you can imagine, I spend a majority of my days just cleaning things up and putting everything back in place.
To make things a little easier around the home, I have found a few really great tips that help to create a simple, clean and more organized space with a toddler.
1. Purge. I'll be honest, I am the worst at purging old or no longer used items. During the first nine months, I would save almost every piece of Faire's clothing she had outgrown. As long as they were free of milk or food stains, it was going in the closet for our future babies. Our plastic bins started filling up quickly and I soon realized I was taking up prime closet space for $10 sleepers that could easily be purchased when we prepare for another baby. Lesson learned. I found that it's been helpful to purge clothing quarterly at the end of each season. Toss stained and donate/sell lightly used clothing that doesn't hold any special meaning. Toys, on the other hand, are great to purge after birthdays or holidays, as there's usually an influx of more stuff (therefore, equaling more mess) and typically overlap with gifts. Toss/donate the cheaper, plastic toys that are easily replaceable down the road and keep wooden toys, which are more durable and timeless in style.
2. Less is more. Quality over quantity. A fitting follow-up to #1. The less you own, the less you have to purge. We benefited by up-sizing from a 600 square foot Brooklyn apartment to a single family home - we barely had enough furniture to fill the house, making our space far from overcrowded. It has also allowed us to take our time to purchase things that we need and save for pieces we really love. With a child, I have found that dressers and bins not too stuffed allow for clothes and toys to be easily recognized. Bonus, higher quality items can be purchased when you aren't spending money on tons of cheaper clothes and toys that will end up getting thrown out before you blink an eye.
3. Designate play areas. We spend the majority of our time in the living room, nursery, and kitchen for meals, so we have primary play areas set up in a portion of the living room and we have a pack-n-play set up in the master with a few toys and books (used for when I need to shower or work in my studio). We're also in the process of clearing out a lower cabinet in the kitchen for our tiny chef, which will be Faire's 'play' cabinet full of Tupperware and wooden spoons.
4. Everything has a place. Baskets and bins will become your new best friends. Pehr Designs has created beautiful and functional storage pieces that can grow with your child and work for either gender. I love their simple, fun prints in various sizes that not only help your child identify 'what goes where' more easily, but also add great dimension to your space. We love Pehr's Pint size for blocks, small musical instruments, and wooden teethers. The Bin size works perfect for stuffed animals or blankets, and the Hamper size holds all the dirty laundry. We also have an antique toy chest that sits in the nursery to hold (and hide!) all the bulkier, plastic toys.
5. Get rid of knickknacks and small items in common areas. It goes without saying that any small, hazardous, or breakable items should get moved up higher once the baby arrives. Wall hooks are great to hang purses and keys, and hanging picture frames rather than having them sitting upright on a table, will help prevent any accidents - because we all know babies LOVE looking at photos. Catch-all trays for loose change, your husband's cuff links, or other random items are great to place in closets up on a shelf.
6. Clean sweeps. To prevent myself from going crazy, I do full clean sweeps twice a day (putting away every book, block, baby doll, etc. that was left in the middle of the floor). My goal is to try and do sweeps once before lunch and once before bed. Throughout the day, I will clean here and there as we go, preventing the house from going completely awry. Waking up in a clean space definitely makes our mornings much more pleasant.
Most importantly, I don't take anything too seriously and am doing my best to practice the Letting Go mantra on repeat as it pertains to all aspects of motherhood. As much as I try to live minimally, it's just not realistic to do so with kids and any (read: all) expectations should be tossed out the window. Besides, doesn't a good mess in moderation prove that a lived in home is a happy home?
What other ways do you keep a clean space with toddlers?
(Sources can be found in the full nursery reveal here.)