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Form Follows Function

Taylor Newman

Remember how, in my excitement over inhabiting a space with actual separate rooms, I painted one pistachio green, hung photos I’d shot myself, ordered cute custom shelving and book storage and painstakingly applied each individual wall-decal leaf… all in the name of creating this color-coordinated sanctuary for one Kaspar Quincy Newman? Yeah, well, I may have jumped the gun on that.

You’d think the co-sleeping would have clued me in to the particular parenting principle I’m properly digesting today (see post title). Kaspar never slept in his crib. He had a crib, but he never slept in it. He slept in a bouncer, then he was up all night for several brutal months (baby allergies/eczema… not a fun time), and then he slept well again (we got a handle on the allergies/eczema via Traditional Chinese Medicine). By that point he was a die-hard co-sleeper, though, so we rolled with that. Then he got kind of big, and we got kind of tired of taking roundhouse kicks to the face for half the night. We discussed perhaps reintroducing the crib into the picture, but ultimately decided that since we’d have to transfer him back into a real bed eventually, we might as well just move ahead with that plan and kiss the crib goodbye. I passed it on to a very pregnant friend, and we moved a twin bed in next to ours so we could keep the same bedtime routine but ensure maximum sleep capacity for all parties.

Which leaves Kaspar’s room serving what purpose, exactly? … Exactly. We used it for reading books and playing with toys. Then we had a cot set up for trading off adult sleep shifts, in the thick of the severe sleep shortage. Then we didn’t need the cot anymore, and the room just kind of hung out for a while, looking pretty, but not getting much use (Kaspar preferred to read books and play with toys in our home’s more high-traffic areas). Then one day, as Aaron worked in his office and I tried to distract Kaspar from plastering his body against the floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that ostensibly separated the work and living spaces, it hit us: Why not make Kaspar’s room, which has a real door and is not central to—or visible from—our main living space, into the office? And turn the sunny, accessible office space into a play area?

It’s worked beautifully. Because we all share a bedroom, we actually have more living space. Kaspar loves his little play area, too; we all do—it’s the best room in the house. And although it made me a little sad to officially pull apart the room that I so deliberately put together, it’s been fascinating to see how much better we all function when we allow form— our home environment—to follow, and facilitate, the way we really live.

Aaron Newman workingBoys reading 

Aaron, working in peace in his new office, and reading with Kaspar in the new play area: a successful room trade.

Here’s some exciting news, too. We’re moving again, in October… into a house. A real house! A house with a lot more square footage, plenty of windows and a real backyard. We’ve already decided that the garage will serve as Aaron’s art studio, but other than that—although my wheels are admittedly starting to turn to the tune of “toddler room” (seriously, how fun will this be?)-- I’m going to make myself wait and see how we all end up getting comfortable before busting out the wall paint.

Have you rearranged your home based on actual (rather than anticipated) usage? Have you made over your kids’ rooms as they’ve grown from babies into toddlers, and then into little kids? And, because my wheels are turning, what kinds of suggestions do you have for making a toddler’s room really fun and enticing? I’m looking forward to your thoughts!