There’s nothing better than a visit from young children, especially if they’re occupied enough that no tantrums occur during their stay (am I right?).
The one way to ensure that your precious mini family members enjoy their visit – and that your sanity remains intact – is to create a zone for them in your home that is uniquely theirs when they come around.
Now, the trick to getting this zone right is to have it look good, function for you day-to-day, and not feel overtly juvenile. This is your home after all, so you need to ensure it’s a zone that feels just as good to look at when the little ones aren’t there.
Here’s a few ideas and essentials to create the ultimate play zone for visiting children.
Start with a sideboard
A piece of furniture such as a sideboard or buffet will not only hide kids’ toys, stationery and arts & craft essentials, but it’s large enough that even the smallest of children will understand that this is the zone they play in (and so you’re not stepping on a random piece of Lego in your kitchen days later).
My advice is to stick to a buffet or sideboard that’s low. Something that can’t fall on top of them, and that won’t hurt them if climbed upon. Don’t go higher than three drawers.
A shelving unit with baskets in it is also an option and can be more affordable than a sideboard or buffet.
Pop a small, affordable rug down in the zone
Putting a small, lightweight, affordable rug down in front of the buffet or sideboard works for you in three ways.
Firstly, the kids will then realise that this is the place they sit to play. Secondly, if you go for a cheap rug, it can be easily replaced if there’s a large mess made (which is likely). And thirdly, if you stick to a small lightweight option, you can pick it up at the end of the play session and tip all of the Lego straight into a basket designated for it.
Doing this means that cleanup at the end of play is fast and simple – which is exactly what you want! If the space is big enough, a small table and chairs might be desirable also.
Plastic baskets are an easy way to keep things in check and avoid the pain of stepping on toys in the middle of the night!
Use baskets and categorise them
Inside the buffet or sideboard, look for lightweight baskets that can be taken in or out, and categorise them. One for blocks, one for playdough, one for dress-ups, and so on. This approach means that when the kids come over, one basket at a time can be pulled out to play with.
It keeps things from getting totally messy, and as I said above… clean-up shouldn’t be as hard a task because the designated basket that things need to go back into is clearly labelled (and the kids can help).
If you have a set of drawers, you can label each drawer instead, or look for smaller boxes that will fit inside the drawers to hold smaller craft items in one place.
Keep it gender neutral
Keeping the zone gender neutral will not only make the kids feel less like it’s a ‘girl’ or ‘boy’ zone (if you have multiple young visitors of different genders), but it means the zone will work with your home’s overall design.
You don’t want to have the rest of your home in beautiful white, black and grey tones, and then have an explosive pink area in the corner. It needs to work for you when the kids aren’t there, so stick to neutral, mature colours.
Hopefully the above has given you some food for thought and inspired you to make a little play zone for visiting children. And fingers crossed it means that they enjoy the stay as much as you do (no tears and no mess!).
How do you entertain visiting children? Share your tips below!
Feature image via mocka.com.au.