We often alter our homes to fit the needs of the members living there. Wheelchair ramps for the handicapped, higher counters for the tall, handlebars for the shower, et cetera. But have you considered altering your home to meet the needs of its smallest inhabitants? Children live in all parts of the home, not just their rooms. Minor adjustments can be made to enrich their lives and make things easier for them.
There is not a simpler task for a child than hanging up his own coat. However, when we walk in the door, my daughter automatically tosses her coat on the ground. Why? She cannot reach the hook and has to have me do it. Purchase a row of decorative hooks to put just below the family rack. Then your independent preschooler can hang up his own jacket.
Hooks work in every situation. In the bathroom, I put up Command Adhesive hooks for hand towels and washcloths. Now my daughter can wash hands without needing help to put the towel back up.
A row of hooks on the back of the bedroom and closet door will enable your child to keep clothing, school bags, et cetera off the floor.
A toy box is a great idea but tends to become the dumping place for junk. If you want your child’s room to be neater but also more organized, purchase a cube shelving system with collapsible fabric storage boxes. (You can find this system at your local Target store.) You can colour code toy storage (i.e. dolls go in the pink box, legos in the blue, etc.) and since there is less that can fit in each box, the toys stay more ordered.
The boxes are easier to take out and prevent the child from emptying the entire contents of a large toy box just to find one toy. I also find it is easier to encourage my daughter to clean up if it is one box at a time.
You can also keep a chest or basket that matches your downstairs décor at hand for your child’s toys that creep out of the playroom or bedroom. I have a trunk that we keep in the living room for toys so my daughter will have toys to play with without having to drag out toys from her bedroom. They are handy but hidden.
Look at investing in a couple of good, wooden step stools. Put one in the bathroom your child uses most frequently. Keep one downstairs for kitchen or other use. I find that a two-step stool is low enough that my daughter will not hurt herself and high enough to help her reach the faucet or what she needs from higher up.
If you have a tall chest of drawers for your child’s clothing, keep the most used clothing in the lower drawers. Allow your child the freedom to be able to choose and put his own clothing on. My daughter loves to be able to choose her pajamas and underwear for the night and is getting quite good at dressing herself without help.
In the kitchen, you might consider letting your child have one of the bottom drawers. We kept one drawer for our daughter’s plastic plates, bowls, and cups. Even as a young toddler, she learned to go into the drawer and pick out a plate to set at the table for mealtimes. It is a good way to teach chores early.
In the bathroom, keep a drawer free for your child’s washcloths, toys, or hair ribbons and brushes. Allow them to change the cloth as needed and give them the independence to choose hair elastics.
It is nice for children to have their own sized furniture. The bed in their room usually fits their needs, why not their living room chair too? The two places you most often find our daughter is in her pint-sized rocking chair or at her activity table. While she can get on the couch or chairs herself, she is most comfortable in a chair she can sit on and have her feet reach the floor.
At Easter time each year, I pick up a couple of the plastic, ice cream bucket baskets. These are not only cute but very functional for our home. I keep some for cleaning but most go to carrying toys. For all the junk that migrates around the house, we will pull one out and load it up. The bucket is just the right size for a child to haul his or her own toys back to the bedroom. We will load up and put it on the stairs for quick carrying upstairs. And these are just the right size to tuck under or next to the bed of a sick child. These are the easiest to clean out in case of the nighttime upset stomachs that could not make it to the bathroom.
Your child will not always be so short or small but a few quick fixes in your home can make their lives less frustrating in the adult world. It can also make your workload as a parent lighter if you train your child to use the little shortcuts. Chores become much easier for the little ones when they have the tools and access to complete the tasks.