I’ve talked before about my hatred of plastic, primary-colored children’s spaces. Well, if you have a kid and you live on planet earth, chances are, it’s not just your kid’s room that is filled with their stuff; it spills over into the rest of your house like that unwatched spaghetti boiling over when you have to run out of the kitchen to handle a poop explosion, leaving a crusted, disgusting mess all over your stovetop (that of course no one else volunteers to clean, but that’s a whole other post). It’s impossible to keep your “adult” or “mostly adult” spaces free of their junk, and that can leave grownup rooms feeling like a preschool threw up all over them, too, if you’re not careful.
I have a philosophy (that my husband hates and decries as grossly impractical) about my home: I try not to bring anything into it that I don’t find to be beautiful, and that includes my kids’ things. That means that instead of that plastic slide a corner of the playroom may stay bare for a little while longer until I find an alternative that doesn’t make me wanna puke (but since the “pretty” versions tend to cost a little more, it gives me a bit more time to save for it, too!). Is it easy? No! Most of the things that I find beautiful and practical for my kids can’t just be grabbed at Toys R Us, and they’re expensive. Is it worth it? Who knows? For me, yes. I’m always fighting a losing battle to keep my home picked up as it is; at least knowing that it is visually appealing and that I’ve retained some semblance of my own style identity despite procreating soothes my mess-induced anxiety just a little bit, and as tightly wound as I naturally am, every bit of serenity I can get helps. It may be messy, but at least the mess is stylish. If convenience and price point trump form for you, there ain’t no shame in that, mama- utility is important (also, forgoing buying maternity pants so I could better afford a fancy rug for my son’s nursery has already bit me in the ass more than once, so I’m pretty sure you’re on to something)! Does it always work? Nope. Sometimes I just can’t bring myself to pull the trigger on a $400 bassinet that can only be used for babies 3 months and under (for which my budget is immensely grateful), or I need a jumper right this second if I’m ever going to get this homework done and I end up buying something hot pink, plastic, and decidedly not my aesthetic, but at the end of the day, it gets the job done. Philosophies are just guidelines anyway, right?
But just because I want my home to be beautiful doesn’t mean I don’t think my kids should be able to enjoy and have kids’ things (within reason). So, sourcing alternatives is the name of the game, and luckily, the market for creating more fashionable versions of necessary (or desirable) products that typically aren’t that visually appealing is bananas right now. So, I present to you, my cheat sheet for products that definitely don’t have to be ugly, and the better versions you should be buying.
- Plastic toys < Wooden toys
[Get the Community Helpers peg doll set here!]
We have an entire post coming up this month just dedicated to the amazing makers out there upping the toy game with beautiful wooden creations, but here’s the quick and dirty: wooden toys are better for the environment, can be passed from generation to generation as heirlooms, and- oh yeah- they’re wayyyy prettier. The weight of a wooden rattle in hand is far more satisfying than the forgettable plastic monstrosity that comes in packs of five and was likely made in an overcrowded factory a world away. Do a quick Etsy search for wooden toys and watch four hours pass like magic.
- Bring the swings inside with boho macramé
One of the first things I got my daughter was her macramé swing, and then I forced my husband to install ceiling hooks all throughout our house so we could move it from room to room as needed. First, nothing could be cooler than having a swing in your room as a kid. But also, it’s just super visually appealing. If you need more convincing that macramé is back in style and not the stuff of your granny’s basement hoard, check out Instagram phenom Christine_simplybloom for inspiration.
- Hell, bring the whole stinkin’ playground inside
Little Tykes slides have been the same primary red and blue for my entire life, and despite my girl’s love of sliding, I just can’t bring myself to put one in our house. Enter Jupiduu and their minimalist, Scandinavian aesthetic. Sleek, wooden, and available in several colors, I’ve had my eye on their slides forever. (Please buy one so I can live vicariously through you.)
- Baby gyms that sound like someone walking in a windbreaker suit are so 1999 (just like windbreaker suits)
Bella Buttercup’s beautiful bentwood play gyms sell out quickly, and it’s not hard to see why they’re hard-pressed to keep them in stock. Solid and modern, I wanna crawl underneath that thing and bat around some 100% natural rubber gender-neutral toys for a few hours (if I weren’t currently the size of a house).
- When all else fails, buy vintage
Wicker and rattan staples like bassinets and Moses baskets are all over the ‘Gram right now, and companies like Design Dua and Plum + Sparrow are filling orders as fast as they can. Alas, diapers are expensive, and the “vintage inspired” wicker bassinet of my dreams is $300 before transatlantic shipping. Womp womp. But if vintage inspired it, why not go straight to the source? I found a gorgeous vintage rattan bassinet in amazing condition on Craigslist, and a company that will make custom-sized mattresses for those non-standard out-of-production heirloom pieces. Total spend? Less than $200.
- Every kid needs a ball pit, right?
Yea, the plastic balls are kind of unavoidable. But, a velvet marble-patterned foam enclosure? Hold me; it’s a thing of beauty (it’s also available in a ton of other shapes, colors, sizes, and fabrics).
What beautiful pieces are you dying to snag (for your kid...obviously)?