We live in a smaller home and have to think about space, the needs and comfort of the individual, and how we can be creative with that space to meet our needs. About a year ago we shocked the salespeople in the furniture store when we asked for three bunk beds and six mattresses…"Would you like to sit down? How about a cup of coffee…." LOL…and I kid you not when I say that everything we got that day was very very discounted. If it were not the case, we never would have been able to afford it! I love little God-incidences like this!! Woo Hoo!!
Had to buy a NEW bunk bed that would be as safe as we could make it, look open and non confining and would not shake like mad when someone rolled over or …even worse…have the upper mattress fall down on some unsuspecting bunkmate in the middle of the night. We came up with the Young America collection by Stanley. As providence would have it, there were two floor models on sale and we were able to order the mate to one of them at a discount as well. What I love about these sets is the fact that it has a bazillion slats in the bottom of each bunk that are firmly attached on both ends!!
Another consideration we had to face was that we needed dresser drawers that would not fall out and dump clothing on the floor..the worst mess maker ever is a faulty drawer, especially when trying to train a young person to put his/her laundry away.
The theme for the girls’ room is a Garden of Roses for our Lady…across the beds are Guinne Sax Rose Trellis comforters of rose trellis design of pink cream sage lavender and white….with matching home made accent pillows.The furniture store had this and this(with this) to help out the girls…what was nice about this piece was that when between the bunks, the older girls in the top bunks have an end table for their special treasures! We found that if we pushed the dresser (with the mirror) in the closet and placed shelves for hanging and basket storage on each side, we made the best use of that space. The former closet storage shelving was used as monkey bars waaay too often and of course fell apart ;o) To soften the lines a bit we swagged a pair of sheer white curtains over the closet opening…with some silk roses as tie backs and a trail of a vine on the top, it looks like a very special girls room! It is painted a sweet pink with white trim with a special paint treatment on the ceiling similar to the one in the boys room….(for that read on!) They have a white bookcase in the room holding a basket for each one of them and the extra shelves hold favorite books like the Bethlehem books, My Book House books (a wonderful collection of stories found on ebay !), and Story Library of the Saints by Joan Windham (oop but look for them!! The 3 hardcover books are read voraciously by both the boys and girls!…we looove them!) Around the top of the wall are the art prints from CHC of the Hail Mary.
The theme of the boys’ room is heavenly comfort! The boys have a dresser, and a chest of drawers and three bookcases (all in great condition matching their bunk beds and FREE…another God-incidence!!) lining the walls…which match this very well! Instead of being confining in this small room, it is a cozy place to relax and read, They have shelves for their favorite possessions, a rock collection in a tackle box, a fire engine, air planes and various boy treasures. Their room is painted a buttery yellow with dark blue star and moon curtains …and…when you look up…(in both rooms) there is a beautiful blue sky with fluffy clouds overhead…it makes the ceiling disappear and it is as if God is looking down on you resting at night.(Thanks to the little woolly kit from Home Depot ;o) CHC’s Our Father prints are across the top of one wall…easily seen from the top bunk as well as an astronomy poster. Our Lady of Grace is atop one of the bookcases keeping close watch on my precious sons. And this picture, (The Gift of the Shepherd) is on the wall…it reminds me of the many days the boys spent picking dandelions for their earthly mom as well as filling many vases for their heavenly mother. All of my children love the image of the Good Shepherd and this is a sweet reminder for the boys as well.
Now that the scene has been set for them, we are learning to use it without having it be overwhelming. Toys are kept in another part of the house. The only exception to this is a FEW special things that have a place. The girls have a few dolls and a drawer for doll clothing. The boys have a few of their latest interests (like the tackle box type thing with rocks) and a model airplane…anything easily stored on the shelves. If the shelves get full or it gets dumped on the floor, it won’t work. It has to mean something to you to be in your room. If you outgrow it or don’t want to care for it, it gets a new home in the house or is passed on to someone who will. The kids made up these rules after being tired of cleaning all the time. It means more when it comes from them. The same thing goes for stuffed animals…we keep the ones we care about…the ones that are REAL! The others we round up and give to a local shelter. This is also a kid choice…it is much easier to say goodbye if you know someone else will love what you are giving up!
I constantly purge the laundry for excess things and clothing that has holes and such. The sheets are kept to a minimum too…there is a drawer or shelf in each room that has an extra set of sheets. When the bed linens are changed, the new one goes on right away and the old set is put into the waiting washer right away….it saves on the sheets that don’t make it back…haha! We keep it simple…fitted sheets in one pile, flat sheets in another and pillowcases (there are extras of these) in another. We keep these linens and such in good shape too…old ones are put in a pile for dress up or in the in case of emergency container…if you ever had a run of killer flu, you know what I mean when I say it pays to be prepared!
Every Christmas they get something new for their room…a set of sheets each or a new blanket for the bed or a new pillow. I love wrapping them too…I line them up on the couch wrapped in special wire ribbon that I reuse for this purpose every year. Yes, you are a simple people when you get joy out of "little" things like this!
Clothing is kept simple too. The kids looove turtlenecks and sweats and sweatshirts in the cooler months as a staple for their fashions…they go well with other things too! They switch to T-shirts and sweat shorts in the warmer months…they are always comfy and they love it….so I don’t fight it! When selecting clothing, it is wash and wear…no dry clean products, nothing that has to be super fussy before you can wear it. For this reason the girls love jumpers and the boys love their rugby shirts and dockers for church clothes. We don’t have a lot of clothing storage, so why keep clothing in the drawers that they will never wear?
The kids are doing their own laundry so I want to keep the rules simple while they learn too!
We divide laundry days by room. We do all the linens on Saturday mornings first thing! Rooms are then dusted and straightened and we hit the rest of the house. The goal is to be done before confessions and ready for FAMILY NIGHT Food and Fun! on Saturday nights where we all make a special effort to be together!
Are we perfect at this?!! Noooooo! But we have a system in the process of being more user friendly. Sometimes the rooms blow up, but take heart! We know HOW to put it back together…always tweaking the plan, always looking to make the rooms nice to look at, easy to use and fun to be in…a personal space that is growing with them. ( sniff…say they will always be around me!) I want to make the most of the precious time we have together, give them their special spaces and I want them to OWN the skills we need to be a functional family-centered family both now and when they are off to start their own….