We've had this little 'office' corner in the family room downstairs...kind of a random corner where we kept wrapping paper/craft items/old check registers. It was a nicely used corner before we had kids, but since they joined the family, not so much.
We (actually it was totally me) had the great idea to clear out the corner and turn it into a play room.
The idea has worked out so well for us. The kids LOVE being down there, which is a nice change from them not loving being down there. Now I can do laundry and stuff while they play. One time I even sat down on the couch with a magazine and that was really nice until 2 minutes later when Christian noticed I was sitting all by myself. Apparently he thought I looked lonely and needed a friend.
The extra space has given us a chance to expand on Daphne's kitchen a bit. Fortunately for us, we had an old wooden filing cabinet painted in the exact same paint of the nightstand that we converted into the sink and stove. We're turning the filing cabinet into an oven.
The only things we had to buy were the shelf brackets to hang that shelf above her kitchen. That means this new play room conversion cost us $1.69 x 2. It's nice to feel so frugal.
Our new space has helped make both levels of the house more usable for our little family, but it has also given us more room to spread out when people are here. Our house has plenty of square footage but it has tiny rooms, which makes it feel like we have to sit on people's laps when we have more than 5 people here. Awkward.
I heard from someone recently that they had a night where they opened up their house for a few of their friends to drop their kids off, freeing up the parents to go on a date. Totally something we could do. So this afternoon we had 8 kids, including our own, hanging out with us. With half of them upstairs and half downstairs our house didn't feel full at all. I even did dishes because the kids were all playing so well together. No crying, no fighting. Really, it was a very pleasant afternoon. As soon as David recovers we'll probably do it again.
I feel so hemmed in right now, like there's not much I can do outside of taking care of my tiny and semi-helpless children. I share that we did this babysitting gig not to make us sound like such outstanding people but because it was encouraging to me to hear about a way I could do a small act of service even while taking care of my kids. I feel almost badly that it was so little of an inconvenience for us. Clearly we should have spent the afternoon building someone a house or something.