One thing I learned quickly about having two children is the big adjustment for the oldest to have to share toys. He also has to get used to another kid around messing up stuff as they are trying to play and build things.
One issue in our house is having enough play space on the floor. We live in Silicon Valley and big, affordable, houses with garages, basements, and enough extra space for a playroom is hard to come by.
We would set up my daughter on her baby play mat with a few toys around her to keep her busy, and there wouldn’t be much space left for my toddler to play.
My two year old loved to play with his trains and car mat on the floor before his sister was born and became mobile….You know that lovely, short window in a baby’s life where you set them down on the floor, and you can leave the room and they are in the exact same spot when you return? Yeah, doesn’t last long enough, does it? Baby gates were an option for a little while, but as she got older, she hated not being able to play next to her brother. Her favorite thing in the world to do was to put Matchbox cars in her mouth and destroy his train tracks.
So, I took our coffee table that was only being used for a drink holder and a place for my daughter to crawl under and turned it into a useful play area.
On the top surface, I simply put a basic train track from IKEA with a few tunnels for my son to drive his train. My son would ask me ALL the time to fix his train track after his sister crawled over it destroying his hard work. This allowed him to play without her bothering him (too much).
I didn’t glue it on the table because I can easily remove the train if he wants to build a parking lot or a city with his cars on the table instead. I wanted it to be flexible because he loves to play with both sets of toys on the table.
I also put the table in my son’s room, so he can play with this by himself if he needs some time alone (first child problem…), and it allows me to close the door if I don’t want my daughter to have access to the little cars that she LOVES to put in her mouth.
Another thing I used the table for was storage for toys with small parts and other things I wanted the kids to play with only under close supervision. Lincoln logs in a crawling baby’s mouth is a recipe for choking.
The main reason why I love this table is because my children can play happily together without my son getting upset because my 8 month old destroyed his train tracks AGAIN! Now that she can pull up on furniture, she loves to watch her brother drive the train. Since she can’t reach most parts of the table (yet), both kids are happy…which results in a happy mom too.