What’s the ideal environment to raise your children? That’s the golden question for a lot of parents and you’ve probably asked yourself that countless of times. Some swear by giving kids the freedom to play and make their own discoveries. Others prefer a more structured life at home. There’s really no right answer because everyone’s different. All you can do is listen to find out what your children’s needs are so that you can keep adjusting their environment to nurture them the best you can.
One of the adjustments you can always make is to your home. That’s also a tough balance to maintain. Think about what everyone’s daily habits/responsibilities are in your home and what can be changed to ease them. Ideally, the home improvements help make life easier for your kids as they’re growing up while also staying versatile enough to fit with their young adult lives years later. Here are some ideas:
Prepare for wear and tear
Kids are always going to make a mess. They’ve just started learning how to put one foot in front of the other. And it’s not as if grownups are any better because some of us still end up being klutzes after all these years! You don’t have to freak out every time they start wandering around. Just choose materials throughout the house that are sturdy, easy to clean, and can handle anything kids throw at them.
Let’s start with the floors, which get the most use in the house. Lay down carpet or cork for the kids’ bedrooms and play areas (but not if their play areas are down in the basement). In the kitchen where spills are most likely, go with stone/ceramic tile, vinyl, bamboo or cork. Make sure the flooring you choose have non-slip or textured surfaces. Every room is more suited to specific flooring types so keep that in mind, too. If you want to have rugs, consider using outdoor rugs on the inside. They’re usually made of tougher material that can take a lot of damage without being too noticeable.
Invest in some durable countertops that don’t stain and are low-maintenance. Laminate is always a popular choice because it’s inexpensive and won’t be too heartbreaking to replace further down the road. If you want a more durable and longer-lasting choice though, quartz countertops are the way to go. Yes, they’re expensive, but there’s less chance of having to replace them due to damage.
Kids grow up so quickly and you want to be there to catch every moment. That’s why it’s best to go with open floor plans that allow your kitchen, living room, and dining room to flow into one another. These are the central areas where most of the family hang out during the day. Opening them all up will give you more opportunities to interact with your kids. Plus, you’ll have better sight lines to keep an eye on them!
If you have space, it’s a great idea to install a kitchen island with a sink, food preparation area, and breakfast bar counter. That way, you can chat with your kids while you’re doing dishes and they’re enjoying their afternoon snack. You can turn the kitchen island into even more of a central activity hub by building in a family schedule bulletin/white board at one end, hidden out of sight with a cabinet door.
In the dining room, try using slipcovers to protect the chairs from mess. You can get different sets of slipcovers and switch them out for cleaning or special occasions.
From accessibility to DIY
It’s only a matter of time until your kids naturally get curious about what’s inside all the drawers and cabinets in the magical land of the kitchen. Encourage their curiosity without any worries by stocking the lower drawers with contents you’re okay with them handling. This can include dishes, too! It may seem like a bad idea at first, but if dishes are stored in lower pull-out drawers, they’ll have an easier time reaching them. It’s especially useful if you put the dish drawer(s) right next to the dishwasher so you can encourage them to start doing things themselves while helping you put dishes away.
Continuing on the DIY encouragement path, place snacks and food that your kids are allowed to eat in the lower pantry shelves. Anything you don’t want them to touch can go on the higher shelves. Do the same with your refrigerator. If you have a large refrigerator with many drawers, designate specific drawers to hold fresh food for each of your children’s tastes. By making healthy snack ingredients accessible for your kids, you set them on a good path to start learning how to take care of themselves. It’ll make your life easier, too, while you’re at it.
Clear the traffic jam
Getting your kids ready for school while getting yourself ready for work is always a struggle. Over the years, you’ve probably refined an efficient routine to get the morning chaos under control. To streamline everything even more, clear up the waiting times for everyone’s turn at the bathroom. Either add a second bathroom or install a double-sink vanity in the current bathroom if possible. Also, put in a storage closet/cabinet to better organise everyone’s toiletries and reduce the frantic hunts for something someone else misplaced.
Above all, try to remember what it felt like when you were growing up. It’ll help you see the world through your children’s eyes. And remind you how awesome kids are.