5 things not worth doing when setting up a kid’s room

There are lots of things that seem like a good, but are a complete waste of time when it comes to organizing spaces for kids. I have now set up two playrooms, two nurseries and one toddler room. I say this as if it gives me some street cred…but it does!! I have learned a few things the hard way and through sheer laziness. Here are my words of experience when it comes to setting up a kid’s bedroom or playroom, and how you can cut yourself some slack [interior designers/decorators or like-minded people may not want to read further]:

1. I know Martha S. would frown on this, but you really don’t need to label everything. Or anything. If you’re a first-time parent, you may think cute labels add value to a room, particularly a playroom. But I’m here to warn you that they will only serve to frustrate you in the future when you realize that nothing gets put back where it’s supposed to. When you’re wearing the same thing you wore yesterday (and the day before?), and you’ve only had a combined total of 6 hours of sleep over the past three days, you really won’t care if the onesies get mixed up with sleepers, or if plastic toy parts get mixed up with soft toys. Be released from the constraints of labelling.

2. An alphabet foam mat is a lovely idea. Emphasis on idea. In your mind’s eye, you visualize DD or DS playing idyllically with blocks or a train set, or even going to town with markers because the mat protects the carpet…*pat-on-back* for embracing unrestricted creative play! What you can’t picture, until it happens before your eyes, is the colourful foam carnage that ensues when DD/DS figures out that the mat comes apart. Cookie-Monster-meets-giant-cookie-effect.

3. Wall decals seem like the ideal solution if you don’t want to paint a mural or put holes in the wall for real art. I actually think that they have been mistakenly marketed as decor and should really be used as hair removal strips given how effectively they remove surfaces. And they will not stay on your walls unless you place them above your kid’s reach. Otherwise, they are far too tantalizing and will be ripped off. Even if they are supposed to be removable and reusable, they don’t work well when covered in lint and pet hair. The one upshot of using them and putting them just out of reach is you’ll develop strong arm muscles from inevitably having to lift up your little guy or gal to take a good, close look at the decal. Over and over and over again. Repeat.

4. Matching. The only time a room will look well decorated and all matchy-matchy is before you introduce a child to it. There will be spitting up, nose bleeds, the effects of the various stages of potty training, etc. If all of this happens on the same day (I speak from an unfortunate experience), you will really not notice if the sheets match the blanket, match the rug, match the wall art, etc. A theme is not necessarily a bad thing, but take my advice and go with an “eclectic” theme so that you always look put together.

5. Lastly, do not (please, for the love of nostalgia), incorporate items from your childhood or vintage pieces into your decorating scheme as actual playthings. They will not receive their due respect or admiration. The children do not care if you used to lovingly braid your Barbie’s hair or if you made your first cookie in your Easy Bake Oven. Barbie’s hair will get tangled and chewed on, parts of toys will go missing. And, you will only weep into your hands as your copy of The Paper Bag Princess is goobered on, scrunched and then tossed aside like yesterday’s news. Yes, even though it’s still completely relevant with a strong message for young girls, your kids will not care.

Hopefully these tips are helpful and don’t sound too cynical. Essentially, don’t get hung up on being stringently orderly or exactingly on-trend with your kids. They will enjoy their room if it’s comfortable, safe, and if you’re there to play with them during the day and tuck them in at night.

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