If you’re a parent, you probably know the feeling. You look around for months to find your kid the perfect Christmas or birthday present. You buy it with plenty of time, wrap it perfectly, and then eagerly await the celebration. Once the day comes, you sit excitedly with 3 different cameras and half of your family watching with Skype. Your child finally gets to the special present. He or she slowly unwraps the present as the tension builds. A huge smile appears on their face as they see what’s inside. Then…they discard the gift into a random pile and play with the box for 3 hours.
We’ve had this same thing happen to us, except on a much larger scale.
In our old house, the kids had to share a bedroom. There wasn’t a ton of room for toys, and even if there was, they would have to play around the beds. We were able to set up a small area that was basically an extension of the living room as a “play area,” but even then, our piano was sitting there, the floors were granite, and it was still fairly small. The backyard could be fun as long as you wanted to just run in a straight line for 15 feet before turning around and doing it again. It just wasn’t a very kid friendly house.
Our new house, however, is perfect. Each kid has their own room that is larger than the one they used to share. Within the first couple weeks, we painted both of them in their favorite shades. Princess got a nice light purple while Little Dude got a nice deep blue. There is room to set up a bookshelf for Princess and Little Dude’s train table. We’ve turned them into areas specifically designed for each to play in.
In addition, we have 2 living room areas. We decided to turn one of them into a play area where they had toys, puzzles, and games strategically placed to grab their attention. We threw a fun rug down on the floor and deemed it thier space. There’s even an extension off the other living room much like the old house where they can play if they have the desire.
The backyard is also much better. There are concrete areas if they want to ride their bike and grass to roll around in and play with the dogs. Compared to our last house, this place is like Disney Land, Legoland, and Six Flags all rolled into one. There is no end to the number of places where the kids can enjoy themselves.
With all of that in mind, do they play in their rooms constantly? Nope. Do they spend all of their time having fun in their play room designed specifically for them? Not even close. Maybe they miss the old place and play in the extension off the living room? Absolutely not. They must never leave the backyard then, right? We wish. In this personalized amusement park of awesomeness, where do they spend the majority of their time?
The coat closet… That’s right. In this house picked out especially for them, they like to play in a 3×8 room designed to hold coats, shoes, and vacuum cleaners. They’re like Harry Potter with Stockholme Syndrome. They won’t leave the place. We could probably install a water drip, leave a box of Cheerios, and leave for a week. They wouldn’t notice or care.
It’s a pretty standard coat closet under the stairs. It starts out 8 feet tall and quickly slopes with the steps until the back wall is only about 3 feet high. It’s also about 8 feet deep, but the coat hangar rod is at the front. This was sort of a pain since you had to wade through our jackets and shoes to get to whatever was in the back. As a result, we decided to put a small bookshelf with some of the kids’ books back there. They can get in and out easier, so it worked out well. Within a couple days, every toy they own was stashed in there, and we couldn’t get them to leave. Now, we just have a few jackets hanging on a hook on the door (we live in Southern California after all), we have a shoe rack by the front door, and the vacuum lives in the garage. The kids have taken over the closet with an efficiency that any army would envy. It’s now dangerous for us to even enter since there are Lego landmines strategically placed over the floor.
At this point, we decided to give in. They can have the closet if they really want it that bad. If we can get a squad of minesweepers to clear the floor, we’d even like to paint the walls with chalkboard paint. That way, they can draw on the walls in there to their hearts’ content. Asking them to go play in their room just draws a glare anymore anyway.
It looks like our big, shiny gift of a new house got tossed to the floor, so that they could play in an over-sized, dimly lit box. Maybe I should look into installing a lock on the outside of the door…