Friday, 6 May 2016

A Child-Friendly Home

I have been known to move the furniture around a bit.  Well, quite a lot actually.   Some evenings my husband would come home and have to search for his favourite chair.  One day he asked if perhaps I could always leave his chair in the same spot.  So we do now, but everything else gets moved around and changed according to the season, the interests we have, new things ... I just like to change it around.  
One of my children doesn't like their bedroom changed around, I understand as I was the same when I was younger.  My Dad was wallpapering my room once, so my things were moved into the spare room for the night.  I was horribly HOMESICK and cried and cried!  Dad came in and told me a funny story till I was laughing and somehow I managed to get to sleep.  Another day I thought it would be fun to move my bed against the wall, and turn my desk around to face the door - playing at being secretaries (I ALWAYS wanted to be a secretary ... and when I was, some years later, I was a very GOOD secretary!)  The game was nice, and the novelty of having my room changed was fine ... until bedtime.  I was homesick again and yes, crying once more.  Dad must have been out that evening because it was my older brother and my Mum who had to haul the furniture around, back to where it had been.  I very, very gratefully got into bed that night.  How blessed I was that I didn't have a harsh mother who might have said "Tough luck, you moved it, you deal with it."

Somewhere the years, at my own pace, I managed to learn to deal with change, some change.  And in many ways I can even enjoy it!  I see that in my children now when I move a small bookcase into a corner and throw some floor cushions down - or take a chair out of the lounge and add some children-sized desks and chairs.

Currently we have a large round table in the lounge - custom-fitted with short legs so the children can work at the table when it isn't piled with rubble:  sewing things, cushions, library books, pens, a basket of odd bits I have collected from the floor, a police truck, baby's dolly, a small blanket ...

Some time back I wrote the following article when I became concerned about the fact that some people don't think about what their home looks like from the viewpoint of their children.  Too much Pinterest, too many perfect blogs, too much looking at other people's homes ... it can put an unrealistic expectation in a parent's mind.


Each room in your house that your children use must be welcoming to them – consider the children when you set it up – or re-set it. 
Can they reach the taps? If not, what can you provide to help them?
Is there a place for the towel to hang? If the towel keeps falling down (or getting pulled off the rail) can you peg it in place?
If the towel is wet are they able to take it to the correct place and put a new one up? 
Are the placemats low enough for them to reach? What else can they put on the table to help set it for meals – and where can you store those items so they can reach easily?
Are your art things available and on display to encourage use, but out of reach of very small hands?
Is there a stack of appropriate paper that the children can help themselves to anytime for making books, cutting up, letter writing, sticking things to? 
Is there a small rubbish bin for them to use when they are making art?
Do you really need a couch plus four lounge chairs and a huge expensive glass-topped coffee-table? They might be taking up valuable floor-space! Would it be a better use of your space to take away two chairs and the expensive coffee-table and replace them with floor cushions and a lower, more useable table? The type of table you choose is very important as it will be the centre of many games, it should be able to be moved by the children to make game areas (house corner, art centre, vet clinic – whatever they are playing) and it should be easy to wipe off.
Look again with fresh eyes at your living spaces and see if you can re-arrange things to make your home more exciting for your children. 
If you want your house to look like a show-home, then wait a few more years until the children are grown up. Don't make the children suffer through their whole childhood just because of your preference for a home that impresses other people. A creative home doesn't have to be a chaotic home – but it can be a haven of rest and peace and excitement for children who love to be there, work there and gain more sense of their place in the family with the work they accomplish there.
Keep these words in mind as you re-organise your home:
light – sun – windows – quiet – organised – cozy – space
I feel qualified to write that because I know it can be achieved even in small spaces. There are eight of us living in our small house! I have friends who live in smaller houses, and it is very difficult, especially home educating, but they still manage – with inventive, cheap storage systems and an eye on what is clutter and what is necessary to keep.
Sometimes a very large house is far more unpleasant to live in (hellooooo? Where is everybody? Come to the kitchen if you can heeeearrrr meee!), and a lot more work to keep tidy and clean! I have a feeling that if we had a bigger house, we'd very quickly make a bigger mess!

Real peace and joy comes from contentment with where God has us right now, and using what we have to make our family comfortable.

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