Eight days. Eight days until my little guy returns to school; eight days before another year of bagged lunches, squeaky running shoes and gooey hair gel.
However, the anxiety starts now.
You may remember an earlier post where I shared that Ryder, my sweet little 5-year old, has selective mutism – an anxiety disorder. To make a long story short, in social situations where Ryder does not feel comfortable, he simply does not speak. In fact, in his entire first year of school, he only spoke a couple of times.
We have coping techniques; ways to help draw him out of his shell. And for the most part, they’re helping. But we can’t control his anxiety, nor can we write it off as inconsequential. He has a real aversion to social situations and we have a really difficult time watching as he withdraws into what we call “the Ryder zone”.
So, with the onset of school just around the corner, things are changing. Ryder stops is his tracks when he hears “Back to School” commercials. He asks on a daily basis, “Is there school today?” And when I say “No, but soon…” he stares off into space, no doubt thinking of a gazillion ways to psyche himself out.
I wanted to do something special for him. Something positive that he could associate with back to school; something to give him comfort and reassurance. And I just knew that I wanted it to somehow involve Disney Cars – it’s no secret that both boys are obsessed with them, and for Ryder, they represent confidence and fearlessness.
Then it came to me – a bedroom makeover! Of course – what better way to start off the school year right than to recreate his bedroom – his safe place – into one that reflects his love of Cars and life in the (G-rated) fast lane?
And I knew just where to go to make it happen – Walmart, of course! They have absolutely everything you need for back to school, back to campus, and even back to sanity (which is what I’m looking forward to once the boys are separated for a few hours each day). Plus, they have a fantastic selection of Disney Cars merchandise for your little race fans.
Now, y’all know that I’m pretty obsessed with Walmart, and have been an avid Sunday morning shopper for oh, the last 15 years or so. And, like so many friends and family, I constantly fall victim to the “Walmart Rule of 60”; that is, you walk in to buy one thing, and you end up spending $60. (Read: How to Spend $169.22 on Three Bags of Milk)
The good news? Being an avid shopper, and an avid supporter, has allowed me to build a fabulous relationship with the brand. Hence, when I politely requested a $200 Gift Card to makeover Ryder’s room, they happily obliged. (Thank you Walmart!)
And you know what? While I came very close to spending my budget, I definitely didn’t go over. So…. are you ready to see how you can take a room from cutesy to KA-CHOW! for less than two bills? It’s time for a good old fashioned before and after!
Ryder’s bedroom was last made over as part of my “Renocation” in 2011. With the exception of the toddler bed being swapped for a double bed, the room was essentially the same. So for all intents and purposes, here are the “before” pictures:
As you can see from the above pictures – super cute room, but definitely more appropriate for a toddler stuck in the terrible two’s than a 5-year old speed demon. Since we converted Reid’s crib into a double bed, the space is more balanced, and in fact, we added another dresser to the mix, because the boys now share a bed – and room!
Et voila! In one shopping excursion, I was able to purchase everything necessary to complete the bedroom makeover. Take a peek!
Okay, let’s dissect piece by piece. First, the comforter and sheet set were sold separately; the Cars 2 Espionnage Full Sheet Set retails for $39.94; the comforter, $59.94. Tragically, I forgot to pull back the comforter to actually show you the sheet set, but through the magic of the Internet, you can check it out via the hyperlink above. I washed the comforter before use and as you can see from the photo below, there was zero fading and the colours remain true.
This snazzy Tow Mater pillow was purchased for $19.97; it’s currently seated on Ryder’s dresser but will no doubt make it to his bed tonight. The pillow was a bit of a splurge, but can you deny the adorableness?
The wall decals and border were super easy to find in the paint section at Walmart. We purchased two borders at $12.97 each to complete Ryder’s entire perimeter, but then he does have a larger room (12′ x 14′) and one package may suffice for smaller spaces. The Cars stickers, featuring popular characters from the second movie, were also a must-have; I spaced them out evenly throughout the room as seen pictured above.
The Japanese racer Shu Todoroki is one of Ryder’s favourite cars, so I knew I had to grab this desk lamp, as it prominently featured #7. At $24.97 it was reasonably priced and I think it’ll give off the perfect amount of light for bedtime stories.
Now you may be asking, Lena – what gives? What’s on the other side of the room? Well, it’s no biggie really, here’s a picture. As I previously mentioned, there’s an additional dresser due to the fact that both boys now share this room, and their (reformed) shopaholic mother buys them a lot of clothing.
Okay. So the truth is, I do have another Cars-related theme to show off. Ahem…. as much as I’d like to call it Ryder’s Die Cast Cars Collection…. the truth is, it’s really mine. Sure, the boys play with the cars… but it’s me who collects them like a fiend. Like a deranged, obsessed fiend. I may even have a “dealer” who scouts the city for the best scores. I know I need help.
I know each and every name and even purchased a Collector’s Encyclopedia so I could get to know their personalities, too. Of course, this isn’t the entire collection; the boys were playing with a handful of cars while I prepped the room. Like I said: a deranged, obsessed fiend.
Okay, okay – so I’m pretty sure I did a kick a** job making over Ryder’s room. But what did he think? Did he love it? I do believe his expression says it all :)
We had a long chat this evening about back to school, and changes, and good things to come. And his Cars bedroom encompasses all three; a new room, a new school year, a new start. I’m hoping that his snazzy “boy cave” will instill new confidence in him for the months ahead, and I’m certainly thrilled with the outcome, makeover-wise. Special thanks to Walmart Canada for partnering with me on #ProjectBacktoSchool!