August 20, 2014

Making the Most of a Small Nursery

My family is now two months in with baby #2, my sweet and poop-laden little girl.  I finally caught her nursery in a moment where the planets had aligned- my favorite sheets on the crib, everything clean and tidy, nice afternoon lighting, and both kids asleep and out of my hair for a while.  I took my chance to nab some pics to show off the nursery and to use as a bit of documentation for my nursery organization tips.  Both my son and daughter have pretty small rooms- perhaps 9' x 10'?- in our townhouse.  This really isn't a problem during the baby/toddler years as there is no need or expectation for these to be places for the kids to really run around and play in.  However, for taking care of a baby, you need to jam pack that space in a functional way so that you can change, feed, and soothe that screaming baby at any moment of the day, on any scrap of sleep (or lack thereof) you may have claim to.  Most of the things I've done are carryovers from lessons learned with kid #1, so they've stood the test of time and if anything got a bit honed with experience.

But first, the ooh and aah pics:

Oh dresser, your remodel was so fun!

Psst- quilt!

Love it.  Mossy monogram and mobile skills- yay!  As my husband said, a bit surprised, everything goes together so well.  It's like I had a plan in mind or something.  ;)

Before we knew the sex of the baby, I already had my heart set on a forest theme.  I wanted blues, greens, and browns for the color scheme, all because I fell in love with a picture from Pinterest.  Once we knew we were having a girl, I made the theme feminine with the patterns, textures, and details.  Birds became a recurring theme, white elements with curls and spirals were introduced by way of the floor lamp and the little bunny potpourri holder, and I chose that great floral crib sheet.  I think it all came together in a great way, not in a traditional girly theme but still feminine.  To me, it's Mod Cloth meets Etsy.

Anyway, on to the organization tips!  

1. Double Duty Furniture. First up is my furniture find with the two-in-one crib and changing table.  I simply placed a changing pad on my son's dresser with our first rodeo, but that did mean I needed a nearby stand to hold all the diapers and wipes.  It worked, but I knew there could be better options.  I liked the idea of the corner changing tables as another space-saving approach, but fell in love with the crib I found on Wayfair.  Everything is close and easy at hand, but takes up less space than having separate pieces to accomplish the same goal.

2. Double Duty Decorations.  That bird cage with the twinkle lights?  It's both adorable AND serves as a dim light for middle of the night wake ups, diaper changes, feedings, etc.  Why have a separate table lamp when we can combine needs and style this way?  I also wanted a cute bird house for the room, and realized I needed a hook to hang wet laundry.  Screw a hook into the bottom of a $1 birdhouse from Michaels that I painted white, and we're in the double duty decoration business.  It really is that easy!

3.  Store Like Items Together.  This may seem intuitive but really, it needs to be said.  Each type of thing does not need its own storage space.  You do not need separate drawer space or storage bins (as cute as they may be) for swaddle blankets, burp cloths, crib sheets, pack and play sheets, bassinet sheets, etc.  Think about the function of the item, and group like that.  Here's how the changing table shelves are organized, as an example:

Now, diapers and hair bows may not seem like they go together, but when I'm doing quick work on the changing pad, they're things I like to have right at hand and don't have to fuss around with.  I'm not gazing adoringly over hair accessories all laid out nicely in some display- I'm grabbing one from a stash that isn't taking up valuable drawer space.  Because of the size of my basket, I can fit 3 rows of diapers but have an extra couple inches of otherwise wasted space.  I thought of what else would fit in that area and also be necessary to grab with ease, and that's when the bows came to mind.
Take a look at the next container for medical items- I needed something with a low side so I could easily pump some hand sanitizer without picking it up out of the bin, and where I could arrange things like diaper rash cream where they wouldn't be in a jumble.  Lesser-used items like q-tips, baby tylenol, baby oil, and lotion are further back.  I even have a few spare pacifiers tossed in there.
I have a pack of wipes on top of the changing pad, and the refills are in the big basket at the back, as well as nursing items like extra pump parts, creams, etc.  This is my stock basket if you will- things not in the daily rotation.  It's my baby supply pantry I guess.
Next row down, at the front we have swaddle blankets (both small and large, cotton and muslin, as well as those velcro kind) and burp cloths.  The thinking again is- what do I need frequently, and needs to be easy to grab?  Well, we go through swaddlers and burp cloths all day every day at this stage, so they get pride of place at the front of the shelf where they can be grabbed the moment that Mount Vesuvius of spit up starts to bubble in my daughter's mouth.
At the back are the backup items again, this time for all things fabric- sheets, covers, towels, etc. that are not necessarily daily use.  That basket is stacked to the brim.  I don't mind digging through the assorted treasures in there for what I need because I'm not doing it often.  And that's the big trade off you make with the small space- use prominent space for the essentials needed all day every day.  Use tucked away spaces for the infrequent items, lumped together (though still organized).
Underneath the shelves I have the humidifier tucked away, as well as my memory box for odds and ends during baby's 1st year.  When she outgrows favorite outfits, gets special cards from family, a growth chart or two from the pediatrician, those things will get put away in the box along with our hospital bracelets and her crib card.  I may or may not turn some things into a scrapbook, but I like having a set place to toss these little items without having to think about what I may or may not do with them down the road.  The important thing is that there IS a designated box for them, instead of having them squirreled around the nursery, my room, the attic, etc. and that it is easy to get to so those special items don't pile up in a "to be organized" stack.
This is the same mantra for baby toys stored in the ottoman, and stuffed animals and blankies in the basket next to the crib.  Need something soft and snuggly, or something fun?  To me, those are different purposes, and are needed with different degrees of urgency.  Soft comfort item- NOW! means instant access with a basket.
Even the dresser is organized this way.  Daily clothes in the top drawer (grabbed most often).  Pajamas and socks in the 2nd drawer, typically only used once a day.  Larger clothes baby girl can't wear yet are in the 3rd and 4th drawers.

4. A Nursery can Store Other Things, Too.  Before this room was an adorable nursery, it was a guest room, office, gift wrap central, and storage room for more frequently used things.  We gave the daybed to a friend, shifted some of the storage to other areas in the house, moved a bookshelf to the living room, and donated end tables to Goodwill.  That pretty much cleared out the main space of the room, but the whole closet was still full and more than that, still in use.  This was needed space that was working well for us, and at a certain point I realized that didn't need to change.  Now, I will need to baby proof that space with time, but for now I realized that my family can still use the closet space in exactly the same way.  Just because this is the baby's room doesn't mean that all other things must be banned.  So here is the dirty secret behind those cute closet curtains:

The closet still houses important documents, ribbons, fabric, gift wrap, and office supplies.  It now has the pleasure to keep a baby gate for future use and boxes of diapers.  Eventually the little girl clothes will take over this space, but for now we're good, and I think that is my biggest motto of parenting: do what works for today.  When it doesn't work anymore, find a new way, but figure it out when the time comes.  :)

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