Children love to play wherever they are. Their minds are so creative that they can imagine full stories and characters with the simplest of props. Tables covered in blankets can become instant forts. Boxes can be escape hatches into imaginary faraway lands. Stuffed animals come to life and “participate” in the saga.
Send them outside, and they will use trees, playsets, rocks, and sticks to create the same fantasies and stories. Each child who joins the fray will bring a new twist to the action. Get enough kids together, and they will create a neighborhood game like Kick the Can or Ghosts in the Graveyard.
They’ll have fun wherever they are, even as the winter months approach and bring snow to play with. But wouldn’t it be fun to have an indoor playground when the days get especially cold and boredom sets in? Your kids don’t need much space to have fun, and there may be parts of your house which would be a perfect playground area.
And let’s be honest. While we love our children more than anything, they can easily annoy us, especially when we are on an important phone call, trying to clean up the kitchen, or when we just have to get things done, and they are in our way. It would be nice to have a place they can retreat to when they need to be alone and a place you can send them when you need to be alone.
Under The Stairs
You might not think of the space under the stairs as a play area, but kids love secret play area and having a space of their own. Plus, they are much smaller than we are and can make the best of less space. Make the right modifications to make it an attractive area for your child. Clean the dust and cobwebs out and start thinking like a kid.
Add soft, colorful play mats on the floor. If possible, add a light overhead. It can be a self-adhesive battery operated lamp if an electrical connection is not an option. Have your child pick out a shower curtain they like and attach that to the roof of the area. This will give them their own private fort or house. Add stackable bins inside to hold toys and games. They will entertain themselves for hours with tea parties, meetings, and playgroups with their friends.
Most of us fill our closets with clothes which don’t fit, things we rarely use, and other items we don’t know what to do with. This could be an opportunity to organize and clean out your closet and even donate your unused things to charity. If you have a closet on the smaller side, this will help you get the most out of your space and free up some of the area for play.
If yours isn’t so cluttered, or you have successfully cleared it out, your closet can be a small but valued play area for your child. You can decorate the inside with stickers or paint it their favorite color. If they are old enough and show some interest, let them help you paint it or even let them paint it themselves. It’s just a closet. You can always redo it later when they grow up. Or maybe you will want to keep it that way for nostalgia.
The garage is supposed to be for our cars, but we all fill it with storage items, lawn equipment and everything else we accumulate. If you can clear a spot in the garage, it will make for an ideal play area for your child. They can go out to play but still be safe inside all year round. Giving them their own spot in the garage allows them to move about freely in and out. They may be a little warm or old depending on the time of year, but will generally be comfortable. As long as you take the proper precautions, you won’t have to worry about them getting into dangerous chemicals or pesticides.
You can make it complicated or simple depending on your goals. If you want an actual structure inside your garage, you will need the proper permits, floorplans, updated insulation and so on. But you can also make it simple by erecting plywood walls or setting up a play structure within the confines of the space you have allotted.
Store gasoline, pesticides, automotive supplies, sharp tools and other potentially dangerous garage items in a locked shed or up in the rafters out of reach. The last thing you want to do is create a hazardous play area for your children.
If you’re feeling industrious, attach a swing to the roof of the garage. Just make sure there is enough clearance so that your swing doesn’t crash into the walls or windows. You just have to decide if you want this to be more of a play area or a fort.
Throw gym mats on the floor for warmth and comfort. Add a climbing wall if you have space. Your child will love whatever new play opportunities you provide them. It will be their new house, restaurant, fort, or even their own new world. It will also be a great place to keep their toys out of the way and out of the house without them even realizing it.
If you have free white wall space, you can project shows and movies on it and have garage family movie night. Other than the projector, all you need are some chairs and a big bowl of popcorn.
You can only add so much before you have to park your car on the street. But ping pong tables and video games also make a great addition to your kids’ play space, especially as they get older and the play area becomes just as much about you as them.
You can spend a lot of money and build permanent structures to make your child their own private playground, or you can just devote some space to them and their toys. A temporary wall or curtain also goes a long way to make them feel their space is their own.
Whatever you decide, there are many ways to bring new life to unused spaces in your home, which will make playtime much more fun for your child. It will also give you the break you may need when one of your days unexpectedly becomes “one of those days.”