Friday, October 25, 2013

A New Room On A Budget

I posted a question on our Facebook page about creating a new, sensory friendly big-girl room for Little Miss M. I was looking for a few suggestions, but the ideas were so amazing, we thought it would be great to put it all together. Little Miss M will be eight very soon. Since Baby Z joined our family about 16 months ago, Little Miss M had to start sharing her room with K-Bear. We've noticed Little Miss M seeking out places that were quiet, spots where she could getaway from her triggers before a meltdown occurred. We are working to create a room that is both a sanctuary and a happy place. Thanks to this blog community, I feel like we are making progress and thank you to my K-Bear for helping us tear down wallpaper! What makes a great room or space?

Zoe says: A Lava Lamp

Kathleen adds: Fidgets, heavy/weighted animals and blankets, books to look through, pillows or beanbags to crash on, soothing music, visuals like fish lamp or glow stars on the ceiling.

Tami says: My daughter has a lamp that has a revolving lamp. She is now on her 2nd one and loves it and she also has a stereo and it play quiet lullaby music.

Juliana added: For us it became more about "what are the must NOT have items" for the room to work as a retreat - any electronics need to be kept out, anything over-stimulating. And good curtains are useful for darkened quiet time.

Heather says: Comfy chair and pillows, books.

Sherri suggested: A fish tank and lots and lots of fleece blankets and pillows.

Kris says: A sound machine to block out the noise that wakes my daughter up, a video monitor so I can see what is happening and know if I need to go to her and talk to her. Open space so she can move without hurting herself, a comfy rocking chair to sit in and rock, a comfy mattress pad to help reduce body soreness, and bedding she really likes. 

We really do have the best Facebook fans, and I am very thankful for all of your suggestions. With my three kids, I have begun to notice the real importance of personal space. The two little ones are pressure seekers.  They enjoy small confined spaces and like to hide. For them, at the moment, a pop-up tent works great. They are girls, but they are rough, so I don't spend a fortune on the tents, because they eventually break. We found the last one on for about $25. It lasted a whole year and was rather large. Now they have their eye on the Princess Sophia tent and tunnel at Target. 

We are a family of five in a three bedroom house. There are toys, clothes, books, art projects, and general clutter everywhere. We try very hard to stay organized, as the clutter can send me spiraling out of control, so I can only imagine how it makes the girls feel. We decided Little Miss M, as the oldest, would get her own space once we mastered a good sleeping routine for the baby. Our original intent had been to have Baby-Z out of the crib, but she's my third kid and until she can climb out, I'm keeping her in place. In the spring, the little two will get bunk-beds. The thought of broken bones does terrify me, but we found a rather low lying bunk-bed with stairs instead of a ladder at Raymour & Flanigan. There are storage drawers and nice rails around the top mattress. The little girls' room will take shape once that bed is in place. Until then, it's a brightly colored cacophony of toys and assorted pink things.

Our focus is Little Miss M's room. There is a good chance she will be going on Oxygen at night at some point, so we needed to keep that in mind while designing. Our starting budget was approximately $0 for this project, so it is being pieced together as inexpensively as possible. The first step was paint. We chose a light purple, a very soothing and calming color. Truly, you walk in the room and just breath a sigh of tranquility. She will be getting a full-sized bed in the spring, but her twin bed is against a wall for added safety. Little Miss M forced us to ditch the bed-rail about a year ago. Instead, we use a large body pillow, which she embraces nightly. The room-darkening shade is on the one window to aid in longer sleep time. 

One major request Little Miss M had was a desk. She wanted somewhere for her computer to stay and somewhere she could quietly work on her homework, draw, color and create. I had been scouring Pinterest and other internet sites looking for an affordable solution to a desk. Last weekend, I abandoned this search, and went to IKEA with the little two. We got a dark black/brown table top for about $10 and four silver legs, each retailing for $3.50. We had two plastic pink folding chairs that will work for the moment. We added a three way light and taped a surge protector to the side of the desk. Little Miss M loves that she can angle one of the lights to her bed at night and read a story before drifting off for the night. 

Instead of a heavy dresser, we use shelving that holds square fabric bins. Adhesive chalk board labels easily stick on to label where she can find different clothing items. She mainly just picks out her own pajamas, but this is a work in progress. We also had an old, small, two-shelf book shelf where Little Miss M took over organizing all of her books. One shelf for chapter books and one for other books. While at IKEA, I spent another $4.50 and bought a ceiling mounted stuffed animal holder. Little Miss M got to keep all her critters, but they aren't littering the floor and they aren't giving off dust. We also had a cow humidifier that enhanced the youthfulness of the room. 

For $5.50 at Walmart, I was able to pick up adhesive cork boards. I stuck these to the wall to hang up her memorabilia, notices, spelling tests and artwork. The moon night-light, we had previously bought from IKEA, works wonderfully in her room too. 

We made the transition in a weekend. It was smooth, because we put Little Miss M in the drivers seat. Most of the decisions were hers, or ones that we gently shaped with her. I had started a Pinterest board a while back to save all of her ideas. In addition to a bigger bed and a comforter set (presents from the Grandparents), we still need to get her a comfy beanbag type chair to curl up in. I'm definitely going to look for some type of lava lamp, but due to my destructive one-year old, I will be looking for something wall mounted. Since the goal of Little Miss M's room is both a sanctuary and learning environment, I have found a peel and stick world map and peel and stick chalkboards. Did you know they make dustless chalk? It's funny how excited the little things make me. 

I'm waffling on the idea of an area rug. Little Miss M falls a lot. She slipped on a pair of socks that were left on the floor this morning. I'm worried that changing the hardwood floor at all will be hazardous to her. Everything in the room is against the walls right now to prevent tripping. Little Miss M's only request left is fairy wall stickers and I think I might surprise her with some glow in the dark stars. It's so nice to see the room coming together and the pride Little Miss takes in her room. She actually asks her sisters not to come in, because she doesn't want them to make a mess - I truly can't argue with her on that because the little two often resemble wrecking balls. 

Do you have any affordable and sensory-friendly tips to make a room or a space for your child? Please share with us in the comments below.


Amanda enjoys switching rooms around and wishes she had a budget as big as her dreams. Since this is not the case, she relies on creativity, mounting tape and thumb tacks.

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