How come kids never use the desk we bought for them? I know I’m not alone in this. It seems to be that most kids want a desk for their room, and most moms agree and buy one – BUT, other than being used as a dirty hamper, used dishes collector, and pretty much a catch-all for junk, the desk is not used as a desk. My kids always love to do their homework in the kitchen. I can see how this habit forms for many young ones, because when they are little we help them form their letters correctly while cooking dinner or eating a snack in the kitchen. Or when they learn to add, we use pretzels or Cheerios as counters. And even as they grow older, they enjoy being near the hub of the home, which inevitably is the kitchen.
In my home, I decided not to fight this anymore. I am okay with the fact that three beautiful desks are sitting unused upstairs. Instead, I decided to convert my dining room into a workstation. All of the laptops for the family stay on the dining table, which is great for monitoring internet use for young kids and keeping the older ones on track. (The internet is such a HUGE distraction while doing homework, yet all homework now seems to require a computer, go figure.) I found a free dining table on craigslist that I use more like a conference table. It is 7ft x 4ft. It is perfect for drilling two holes in the top so I can add data grommets to charge computers and phones. It feels like a table that you would find at the library for studying. (When the weather warms up, I’m going to pull the table outside and drill the holes. I’ll make sure to update this post – I can’t wait! For now, we have the dreaded wires running all over the place.)
I got inspired to do this when I saw my friend’s house, where the office, instead of just being for one parent (as is usually the case), held four L-shaped desks in the center – one for each parent and child in the family. Most days they would all sit together and do their work. My friend said that when they all sat in the office to work, it was one of the few times the family spent all together and it led to natural conversations and sharing about things that happened during the day. Given how hectic our schedules can be, with sports practices, music lessons, long work hours, etc, time together, even if it is just spent working in the same room, is special. I wanted to create this kind of space in my home too. The dining room was the perfect spot since I don’t do any formal entertaining, it was in a central location, and we also had a kitchen table that we used for eating.
I converted my old buffet into an office supply storage, so it holds all sorts of paper, pens, stapler, markers, colored paper, folders, etc. as well as the printer and shredder. Granted, it could still use some organizing, but I LOVE having a spot to store textbooks and “I’m in the middle of working on that, don’t throw it away” papers. It’s important to me to have a place where ALL of the work clutter from the dining table can be swept into and out of sight, and still be easily found again.
I’m really pleased with how the functionality of this room is turning out for my family! I would encourage you to work with the natural flow of your home and while some kids work wonderfully in their own rooms, perhaps for others that means letting the bedroom desk be a decoration and creating a central spot for school work!