When our kids are young, they spend so much time in the family home. Even more so these last 18 months or so, with many of us being stuck at home more than we are used to. It has made many of us more mindful of making the most effective use of our home spaces. With limited access to children’s activities and groups, I’ve found myself creating various areas around the house for each of us, including play areas for the kids.
Make it a Safe Space.
The first thing we must consider with any area for children is how safe it is? What safety means will vary depending on the age of the child. With babies and toddlers, we should be careful of physical trips and sharp objects, whereas with older kids, it might be more having established safe behaviors, such as carrying scissors in the classic ‘safe way’. Regardless of age, keeping the area in a clean and sanitary condition is essential. We must look after toys and play equipment to keep them working and safe.
Messy Areas (That Quickly Become not Messy)
Every kid loves messy play, and there is no point even trying to argue that point! What is just as true, is that every parent detests cleaning up the mess. Having a system for containing the mess is important. Employ tarpaulin or other wipeable sheets, these can be folded, and physical debris quickly poured into the trash at the end of the session and wiped down. Be careful to use any art supplies that are easily cleanable from floors and surfaces as well, avoid any permanent pens or markers, and use easily washable paints.
Quiet & Creative Time
It may not seem like it sometimes when you have particularly active kids, but all play doesn’t need to be loud, as quiet and creative time is important for children. Set some time and space aside to do art projects, reading, and other quiet activities. It’s key to have a comfortable set-up for these activities, and classroom tables and chairs are the best things you can buy for this. If they are designed for kids to sit at all day in school, they will be more than adequate for my play area.
Outdoor & Indoor
It’s important to have indoor and outdoor play for kids. I found the best way to do this for my young kids was to make a specific area of the garden available for them. We built a little enclosed area with old sleepers and built an artificial grass area that they love, and it also keeps them safe.
One trick we’ve not yet touched upon is toy rotation. Rotating the toys in our children’s toy chest is important for various reasons, principally it aids in eliminating boredom. But there are other benefits as well, buying second-hand and donating older toys can help keep things fresh while not adding to the growing problem of plastic pollution. Toy libraries are a great idea that operates in many cities.