Over the next few months, things are going to be very different whilst we all get used to this new normal. One thing we can be sure of is that, for those with children, your family is going to be spending a lot more time together in the same house. Suddenly the same amount of space will need to be an office, school, playground, gym, pub and most importantly, remain a family home.
With our years of nursery design experience and our love of helping families make their homes work better for them, we have some top tips on making your homes adjust with you over the coming months.
It’s only temporary
Don’t be scared to make changes to your home that may just be for the next few months. It only needs to be temporary and could keep you sane! Moving furniture around or switching the use of a room can easily be reversed once all of this is over. You may even stumble on a permanent change you love!
For example, dinner parties are off the cards right now, so if you have a large kitchen/dining table because you entertain a lot, think about moving it. If it’s extendable, make it smaller, or even remove the chairs from one end and cover half of it with a sheet, creating a special den for the kids.
Or if your kids have a bedroom each, why not move them in together for a while so the other room can be used as a classroom, playroom, or even office? Be creative with the rooms and furniture you have before spending any money.
Try and use this time at home to go through your house and declutter. The simpler the environment, the better your child’s concentration; sensory overload is something that needs to be taken into consideration. With too many toys, books or activities on display, children will be overwhelmed. Stick to a few things at a time and rotate them to spark their interest.
In this day and age, a lot of homes are designed for open plan living. Whilst this is great for regular family life, this can be a bit more difficult in these unusual times. Try moving your existing furniture around to create zones that everyone can use. They don’t have to be massive; maybe a quiet reading zone under the kitchen table with cushions and a basket of books, a creative zone with pots of pencils, stickers and paper, a quiet study zone in the hallway for more focussed learning and maybe move the sofa away from the wall to create a play zone behind it for their favourite toys. Think outside the box and remember, it only has to be temporary.
This is the time to be walking around your house to see if there are any areas that are under utilised. Maybe the hallway or under the stairs is a dumping ground for coats and shoes. Could you temporarily cull these to the ones you most use and store the rest away in your bedroom? You may uncover some space to put a desk for studying or working from home.
Or is there a corner in your bedroom that has an armchair and lamp? Why not move this to one side for a while and create a quiet home office. You will be amazed what you can do with a small space.
Child’s eye view
It is important for children to feel the family home is theirs too. Too often as parents we don’t look at things from their perspective. A simple trick you can try is to get down to a child's level and see how the room feels from their height.You may find that looking at table legs and skirting boards isn’t very inspiring! Make sure things are accessible to them and, depending on their age, invest in some child size furniture. It is hard to learn independence when you need help to get into your chair or sit at the table.
Out of reach
How many times a day do you say, “don’t touch that” or “put that back”?
Now that you're going to be spending more time in the house together, why not move those valuable items from the reach of little hands and replace them with things that you don’t mind them playing with, allowing them to explore freely.
Rotate their toys
Spend some time going through your kid’s toys and remember what they actually have! Don’t get everything out and in sight on the first day, rotate them every couple of days so that they stay interested. Set out a scene with their toys to encourage them to play. Children often need a nudge to get started but once they are on their way, their imaginations go wild!
Get the kids involved
This is going to be as hard on the kids as it is on you. Get them involved in making their new ‘classroom’ space fun. Give them a space that they can decorate with their art work - windows or glass doors are the best as bluetack doesn’t mark these when they come off. Or if you are feeling really creative invest in some wall stickers and let them decorate the lower parts of the walls to help create zones. You can get some great wall stickers for little expense, and they can be removed in a couple of months leaving no marks on the walls.
At the end of the day these are going to be different times for all of us, but try and enjoy it. There will be days when you think ‘I’ve got this’ and days when you think ‘I don’t’, but a few simple changes can help avoid your home being the source of frustration.
Stay safe x
Our top purchases
Here are a few key things to buy which can make your house survive:
If you are not used to doing messy art at the kitchen table, then invest in a wipe down table cloth. This will not only save your table, but also your stress levels!
The same applies for the kids! These wipe down aprons have such fun prints and are perfect for cooking and messy art.
Storage / grab boxes
These are essential to have everything to hand for the day. Staying organized will make your life so much easier.
Child size furniture
If you have toddler age children, this is the perfect time to invest in some child sized furniture. There are so many on the market now but we prefer the vintage style school desks from Blue Ticking - so nostalgic! This one is amazing as it is adjustable, so can grow with your child.
Adding wall stickers will really bring a room to life and is a lovely way to get the kids involved. Try keeping to shapes rather than animals or flowers, as specific themes can lose their interest quickly.
This company makes some lovely designs and gorgeous colour choices.
It is worth doing an online delivery to get a good supply of crafty packs, stickers, glue, colouring pencils etc. One of the best places to get it all from is Baker Ross. They do a very speedy delivery and have some great craft kits - the problem will be stopping yourself getting carried away!