The world was a lot simpler BC–Before Children. Remember when you used to be able to leave things around the house without concern that any little people would eat it, injure themselves with it, injure each other with it or otherwise damage the home? Not so once kids come along–everything becomes a consideration for their safety, and everything is seen in a new light. That chic modern coffee table is now a death trap, the unfenced yard now a liability and the long grass now a hidey-hole for any number of creepy crawlies that could harm your precious babies. Of course, we wouldn’t give them up for the world (most days!) so we create spaces in our homes and lives where we can be sure they are safe. A must-have is a safe, fun and spacious play area for the kids to run around and burn off that energy. Pergolas or other shaded areas are perfect for this purpose, as they’re close enough to the house that you can keep an eye on them, and provide shelter from the elements. Here are a few tips for creating a safe play area to keep the kids happy and the parents sane!
Designate a Kids Space
One of the issues that frustrates parents is that a play area, if not contained, can quickly take over the entire house. While you may start off with a section that’s ‘kids only’, fairly soon you’re finding toys, bikes and mud-pies from one end of the back yard to another. It is important for the backyard to be a space the entire family can enjoy, which is why designating a kid’s area–and enforcing the rules–is essential. Make sure the kids understand that in their special area they can play to their hearts content, but any toys and equipment taken outside of the area need to be put back in their place as soon as they’ve finished. Not only will this free up some space for you to relax and enjoy, but it will teach them a valuable lesson about responsibility!
Visibility and Safety
Another benefit of having a dedicated kid’s play area is that you can control the environment. Make sure that the area is visible from the house without too much effort, and easily accessible if you need to step in. It’s also a good idea to make sure pavers or grass are kept neat and maintained to prevent too many spills, as you’re definitely not going to be able to convince the kids to slow down!
In the harsh Australian sun, it’s vitally important to make sure kids are protected from sunburn. As little as ten minutes in direct sunlight during a hot day can cause damage to your little one’s skin, and with studies showing links between childhood sun burn and adult skin cancer, you can never be too careful. Therefore, creating a shaded space with a pergola or veranda is the best way to ensure that your children stay safe and cool.