Welcome to Bell Prep 📚✏️ . I don’t know how virtual learning has been going over at your house, but our first week of virtual learning (a few weeks ago at this point) felt super chaotic. Between my husband working from home, me working from home, a baby, a Kindergartner, and a 2nd Grader, it was A LOT to have going down under one roof. And it felt like everyone was in each other’s business. ALL. THE. TIME.
We quickly realized that we needed to do something to impart more structure, boundaries, and give the girls a little more autonomy. Of course every day still presents new challenges, but overall I think it has helped a lot! Below I am sharing a few quick and easy steps to create a space more conducive to learning…and less conducive to us momma’s losing our minds all day long 🤣.
My first step was to order some desks! At first the girls were doing their schoolwork downstairs, either at the kitchen or dining room table. This was not working well for any of us. I managed to find a fabulous option from Walmart.com that is not only the perfect scale and actually pretty cute for a desk, but I also love that both the desk and chair are adjustable, so we could customize them to fit each child and the desks will also grow with them. The girls LOVE their new desks (they’re now sold out on Walmart so I am linking a very similar option I managed to find on Amazon). I love that there is a hook on each side for cord management for their Chromebooks and the almighty headphones, which are essential to keeping the peace!
The rolling utility cart from Ikea now serves as a drop zone for quick access to school supplies and also stands in as an extra stand for Avery’s laptop. I also repurposed a few items – for instance, converting the dollhouse into a bookcase (see above image), and a dresser drawer into DVD storage.
After ordering the desks, it was time to purge the playroom to create space to change up the layout. Here is where things got a little ruthless on my end. I spent 8 total hours, friends, and I put a TON of stuff “away in storage” 😜. There were soooo many toys, I had to pare things down to just a few categories. Here is what I kept: 1 small tote of stuffed animals (because, baby Blake), Legos, Barbies & Accessories, American Girl Dolls & Accessories, Lite Brites, alll the LOL’s, Shopkins, and dress-up clothes. Just about everything else was donated.
After my purge was over and I had removed the evidence (about 4 lawn sized garbage bags of stuff to donate – and another 2 of trash), I made the girls sort and organize all the toys that we did keep. They definitely bitched and moaned, but they were so proud of the end product and….guess what?! They have been ACTUALLY PLAYING with all of those toys because now they are aware of where everything is! Totally worth the torture (for me).
Next up was organizing the arts & crafts supply closet. I won’t go into a ton of detail here but again, I tossed used supplies that can’t be repurposed and used color coordinated plastic storage bins (Target) to stylishly separate supplies. There is a bin for everything from markers (which are sorted by type in gallon sized ziplocks) to play-doh, construction paper, coloring books, paint, stickers, tools, etc. Even the Blinger has a space.
I should mention that one of the things the girls were most excited about were these super cheap ($6) bulletin boards for the 476 websites / user / passwords that are required for a few hours of virtual schooling 💆♀️.
Oh! One last tip. It seems pretty basic, but once I started sending snacks and water bottles up with the kids it was a game-changer. I even set an alarm on their Kids Edition Echo Dot to remind them to eat their snack at the appointed time, otherwise by the time they realize they are starving they are demanding snacks too close to lunch time. I try to pack something that won’t make a huge mess, like pretzels and almonds, so they aren’t running right back downstairs as soon as I have sent them “off to school”. Works like a charm, and then they are hungry for lunch at the right time (ie when I am ready to serve lunch)!
So far, the plan is working! They are enjoying their space and I have been enjoying having a little more peace and quiet downstairs to get some work done while Blake is napping. And hopefully in time the girls will forget about that “storage unit” where all their stuff is.