Our grandchildren come to stay frequently, so how do I create a home that is welcoming for both them and their friends.
Luckily I often hear their friends saying how much they like our house. Our grandchildren are proud of the fact that all their friends want to play at their grandparents. Though we didn’t set out to create the best kid-friendly house in the neighborhood, we are happy that the children love it.
About three years ago, our eldest grand-daughter, who is now 8 years old, started having play dates. Sometimes her mother would accompany her, but as I looked after her quite a lot, sometimes it would be me who accompanied her to her first play sessions at her friends’ homes.
This gave us the opportunity to meet the parents and for them to meet us. It also meant that she would feel comfortable playing unaccompanied later on.
During these visits, I would examine her friends’ homes to figure out what they had done to create a home that was elegant but comfortable and kid friendly. I wanted her to be equally happy bringing her friends to my house as well as her parent’s. Everyone’s homes have different approaches, yet the best-designed ones have many things in common.
Simple rules to create a home that is clutter-free
Most families with young children can attest that it is hard to keep your home spotless, but you can have a house that is clutter-free. Being clutter-free is being well organized. Toys are stored away when not being played with, and parts of sectional toys are not strewn all over the floor.
Families eat at the table or the kitchen counter, and dishes are cleared away once everyone is finished eating. Our family tries to have a place for everything. Notepads and pens go into one drawer in the kitchen, and each toy has a place. This method cuts down on endless searches for missing items.
Some parents exile their children to play only in their rooms, but we like to have a set play area in the family room for the children to play in. It is easier to supervise, and it distinguishes their bedrooms as a quiet space. As long as the playroom is neat and tidy, our house does not look like a toy store.
We got a kids toy organizer and storage bins. Each basket is marked with its contents, such as blocks or vehicles. Once our grandchildren and their guests are finished playing, they are expected to put the toys back into their specific basket.
Bedrooms are sanctuaries. When we first started having our grandchildren to stay, we helped them create special places to call their own. To create the atmosphere they wanted we added decals, that could be changed or removed as they grew. For young children we loved the tropical fish, for girls there are pretty trees and of course boys love racing cars.
Putting a personalised sign on the door “Tom’s Room” makes your grandchild feel that this is his home from home. As many children have difficulty in the summer months going to sleep when it is still light outside it can be a good idea to get blackout curtains.
A bed is the anchor to any bedroom. Our grandchildren each have their own twin Captain’s Bed with storage, these are the same beds they have a home.. Historically used in the captain’s quarters of a ship, the beds have drawers underneath the mattress area, which replaces the need for a dresser.
Since the beds are timeless looking, they will last through each fad and phase. Also, the beds are large enough for adults, so our grandchildren will not need another bed again. Equally when adult guests come to stay they will not feel they are sleeping in children’s beds
Never forget that many young children find sleeping in the dark frightening, so a night light can give him that bit of reassurance he needs if he wakes in the night.
Anyone can have the latest toy or game, but hand crafted items are one-of-a-kind. Our home is full of crafts we made together that add a personality to home.
In all our bedrooms, we sewed embellishments onto plain cushions. Our granddaughter sewed beads to spell out her name, while our grandson wanted his name spelled from letters cut out from his old baby blanket. These are important skills that grandparents can teach that perhaps their parents do not have time to show them. Knitting, crochet, sewing and carpentry are all skills that are being taken up again.
Maybe you could even make the curtains and comforter covers to create a really unique theme. Your grandchildren will feel a sense of achievement in the help they have given to create a home. Even framing some of their pictures, makes them look professional and showcases their artwork.
Now our grandchildren host playdates nearly every day at our home. We are happy they are proud of our home, and it wasn’t because we had the best television or sofa. We designed a relaxed environment where children are respected, and in return they respect our rules and wishes.