Over the years as homeowners I’ve had some pretty far fetched or off the wall design ideas, most of which never came to be (probably a good thing for half of them!) but my most recent one actually turned out better than I had even hoped! Our house is laid out in a way that gives us the option of using a bonus space as a fourth bedroom if we chose to, the catch is it’s all the way at the end of the house, and the only way to get to it is to walk through a bedroom and a bathroom. For most people that wouldn’t be a problem, but my kids aren’t most people, and the array of anxieties they bring to the table means that room is a dark cave where the boogey man obviously lives, and is clearly an easy access for anyone who wishes to rob us blind and murder us in our beds…you can’t make this stuff up I tell ya. Because of all the above mentioned reasons, our oldest point blank refused to sleep in that room by himself, which meant we had three growing boys crammed into a fairly small bedroom. Now before you start to think we are just way too soft of parents, let me just tell you that when you’ve watched your kid have a full blown anxiety attack complete with hyperventilating and tears, you decide that some battles just aren’t worth it, and are also quite possibly more harmful than helpful.
So, keeping that thought in mind, I sat on the situation for awhile, trying to come up with creative ways to make their room more functional for them. Lots of time invested on Pinterest (such torture ;)) looking at bunk beds, and creative organization systems. We even knocked out a small closet to create more space, which helped a little, but it didn’t fully solve the problem. Finally, after being inspired by a friend who made a similar decision, we decided to give up our room.
Very high on the Pro’s list was the fact that we would finally have our own private bathroom again! Our little ranch house built in 1967 did not feature such a new fangled thing as a big ensuite master bathroom, and with a son quickly reaching adolescence (GULP) and two extremely inquisitive 6 year olds who tend to find ways through locked doors, our days all sharing a bathroom were numbered! Franz and I were both pretty excited to have our own private space again. Another big Pro was the fact that we would be able to move some fairly big toys out of our living room and hallway and into a designated space. The biggest draw to the change however, was the hope that our kids could actually have a room they could grow into, play in together, and enjoy.
The entire project took longer than I had hoped (when does any home improvement project actually finish on time?) and included a complete overhaul of paint and flooring. At one point we were frantically trying to get things done, but a good long discussion about reality vs expectation resulted in a much more enjoyable, if not time consuming, process. When we were finally in the home stretch of touch up paint and small details, I found myself starting to get anxious. What if this was a horrible idea? What if I hated it? We were literally leaving our bright, pretty big room and taking the smallest room in the house. Were we crazy!? The doubt, fear of other people’s opinions, they all took hold for a momentary panic attack. From the start we had said this would be a six month experiment, and we would see how we liked it, which helped ease my mind, but still, you don’t watch your husband put in that much work and not worry it was all for nothing!
Move in day finally came, and it was time to de-chaos our house. With limited places to put things, we had had to make do with shoving all of their furniture and ours wherever it would fit in the house. Their beds had been sitting in our dining room in pieces, mattresses stacked neatly alongside them, and their toy box had been pushed next to the stove, where Hope had happily used it as a stool to “help” me cook for the last two weeks. We had all become accustomed to pushing their arcade style basketball hoop thingy out of our way every time we needed to get down the hallway, and I had become a pro at sorting through the twins’ clothes where they were all piled up next to our bed. Basically any change at this point would have been an improvement, so perhaps that’s why finally seeing their finished space felt that much more awesome.
With their room blissfully checked off the list, we turned the last bit of our energy to our own little space. When our bed was set up, I felt a glimmer of hope it might not be so bad. When the rug went down, the curtains went up, and the dresser found it’s spot, it suddenly seemed bigger than I thought it would be. The last piece of the puzzle, the bookshelves with all of my books, made it feel cozy and just right. I had worried for nothing. As usual.
One of the things I have really wanted to focus on this year is finding ways to help our family function at it’s best. Whether that’s a new chore system, schedule, eating habits, or even just me learning how to stay on task and focus, my goal is to stop trying to fit into the “usual” methods, and learn to be ok doing things our own unique way. The chaos that our house had become, had started to take it’s toll on our family. It’s amazing how something as simple as rearranging can have that much of a positive impact, but it absolutely did. For starters, all three boys are finally sleeping IN their beds, in their OWN room, ALL night EVERY night! Glory hallelujah!!! True, the incentive of earning half an hour on the tablet the next day is probably the main motivator there, and our new bedroom is so small there is literally no room for them (an added bonus, hehe) but the fact of the matter is, we all officially have our own space, and it is marvelous.
Not every right choice is going to come with applause and people saying “that sounds great!” We got a few weird looks, and some people questioned our sanity (and our measuring skills), but we went ahead with what we felt was right…and it totally paid off! A few days after we finished, my parents came over for dinner to see all our hard work. My dad walked into their room, took one look around and said, “This was the right call.” I couldn’t agree more.