Spaces for a one year old: our living room.

As the weather has become chillier and wetter, and the days are far darker, it has forced us to stay inside far more, and in turn has given me a big push to sort out the spaces within our home. We moved into our home three days after Eilish was born (the second move within the time of pregnancy), and it was a rush move due to a difficult rental situation and the imminent arrival of a baby. This has meant that it has taken so much time to sort, declutter and really enjoy our home. It has meant that while the “yes spaces” and play areas of our home took priority, they were never quite how I wished, and our home never felt all that complete. And then when we discovered the principles that we use in our home, I found it all deeply overwhelming. Confronted with these huge Montessori-friendly spaces within homes, the beauty and sheer magnitude of toys and work, the waldorfinspired hashtags, the minimalism and flow of these rooms, I was lost in an Instagram-heavy world with a home that fell short of ideals. It was only when I began truly following the child, watching Eilish and her enjoyment of our tiny home and its small spaces that I realised that actually the joy already existed within these walls. It’s about your family, your home and your child.

With Christmas on its way, and more toys possibly arriving in homes all around, I decided to share a little series documenting some of the spaces in our home. I wanted to show a portrayal of the Montessori/Waldorf/Charlotte Mason/anything-we-like-the-feel home that I wish I had seen when feeling overwhelmed by the ideals. And hopefully to serve as a little reminder to honour you and your families values, not those of others. I’m starting with the living room, the room where we spend most of our time playing, reading and holding toddler dance parties.

I would also like to acknowledge the privilege we have in owing many of these gorgeous toys (and renting this house). Having the money to allow us, and having grandparents and family kind enough to gift Eilish these is something I try not to take for granted.

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This room looked very different a few months ago, everything was in a different place, but as Eilish grew and began to move around, the need for space for movement grew too. Its very important to me that we keep the downstairs as almost entirely a “yes space”, for my own sanity as well as for Eilish’s own development. That has meant, for us, keeping the door to the stairs closed, not moving the fire guard in front of her, and getting rid of or replacing some bits of furniture that were cumbersome or had sharp edges. This room is many things, a library, an adult space, a toddler dance floor, a playroom…

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A cosy space to read books, the wobbelboard is usually placed somewhere in the middle of the room for play, and Eilish often brings her fine motor toys to the sheepskin rug to sit and inspect further. Books are usually read to herself over here, while other times she brings them to me to read. All the books are board books in this corner to allow her to explore them independently.

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A child-accessible shelf had to be child-friendly, so the bottom shelf has become Eilish’s. The celebration ring, which we change seasonally, now lives here and little hands explore when they wish. A small basket of art cards and poetry books sit here that we explore most mornings, along with a basket of seasonal books.

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The bulk of Eilish’s toys live here, on a bookshelf that my husband built and we upended to repurpose into toy storage. We will add more shelves when we have more time as they are needed, but this works for now. I swap out things as and when, but now Eilish is 15 months she has much less interest in playing and more important work to do in gross motor skills. On the left hand side is a basket of playsilks (we currently only have two). In the left cubbyhole sits a couple of baskets of animals, and in the middle some blocks, a Galt pop-up toy and a square puzzle. And in the right are her musical instruments - a xylpohone, some maracas and bells - and a basket of finger puppets. Her pram is a favourite, she often puts things in to push around. There is a stacking puzzle on top, along with books and natural items, which we change seasonally. To the left, off-camera, is a very modest collection of Grimms, a medium rainbow, balls and stacking cups. This collection of toys all serve Eilish well, without being overwhelming or not enough.

So this is it, our small living room, overrun by toys and worn around the edges. But I can now say, without hesitation, that it is a room that I love. And a room which - most importantly - Eilish gets delight out of every single day.