There are many reasons why people enjoy owning their own home and being a fantastic parent is definitely one of those reasons. Being a homeowner means being able to do anything you want with your home which also means the freedom to turn it into a playground, wonderland, and happy home environment for your children. As a DIY parent, this means you have the freedom to build your child toys out of more than just cardboard and markers. You can turn your entire house into a child-friendly play place or you can designate specific zones that are optimized for kids with other rooms that are more comfortable for adults to spend time.
The house is your oyster, your castle, and the place your children will remember happily for the rest of their lives. Whether you’re looking to better child-proof your home or want a few awesome kid-friendly home improvement ideas, we’ve got you covered with nine different fun parenting home projects for you and the kids. Let’s start with the basics and well to more exciting projects form there.
Paint the Walls with Sturdy Gloss
The first place every single parent homeowner should start is with the walls. Especially if you have younger children and pets, your walls are going to see a lot of activity. Balls bouncing, thrown food, surprisingly ranged spills, and the usual amount of roughhousing will all hit those walls and you need them to be quickly and efficiently recoverable.
When it comes time to wash spaghetti or crayons off the walls, the last thing you want is paint that comes up on the soft side of the sponge. Ideally, you need something closer to enamel that will never chip, scrape, or peel no matter how much action the wall sees. Look for a heavy-duty gloss or satin paint in colors you like. Be confident about checking with the paint store employees to find something that can be scrubbed with a brillo pad safely because it might come to that.
Install a Screen Door Latch
Once your children start walking, they will toddle anywhere their little feet can take them. If your family enjoys occasionally switching off the AC on a nice day and opening up the back or front doors to let the nice breeze in, you might also want to consider the risks involved in adding a toddler to this tradition. With a little one in the living room, the best way to keep them in sight and not exploring the neighborhood is with a simple latch on the screen door.
Old-fashioned wood and mesh screen doors often don’t have any latch at all because keeping out bugs doesn’t require a lot of security, but it also means pets and babies can simply push the door open. A simple eyelet and hook is enough to stop most small children.
Another word of advice on doors: Lever-shaped handles are easier for small children (and even some clever cats and dogs) to open on their own. We suggest levers on accessible doors and knobs on doors that should stay shut.
Smooth Out the Backyard
Children love backyards. This is a relationship that has lasted for over a century and the number of things you can do with your backyard are impressive. However, before you start building tree houses and play sets, first you need to make sure your yard is actually safe to run around in. Many yards have a number of small holes, soft spots, rocks protruding from the ground, and hard clumps of weeds that can all serve as relatively dangerous tripping hazards. Ideally, you want your yard to be as close to a smooth surface as possible topped by fluffy green grass for the least possible damage when your children do occasionally trip or tumble during play.
To smooth out your lawn, use a hoe or a short metal rake to break up and soften the topsoil. Fill any holes and pull up any hardy weeds that are causing a problem. Alternately, you can hire a landscaping service and explain to them what you’re going for.
Replace Delicate Light Fixtures
You may make a rule about throwing things in the house and your children may promise not to throw things in the house… but things are going to get thrown. Even if no object leaves a hand at high velocity, other hazards like broom handles, moving furniture, and large toy weapons can all put your light fixtures (and your children) at risk. Delicate glass light fixtures may look nice in an all-adult house but as a parent, you’re probably not looking forward to that inevitable moment of shattered glass and tearful apologies.
Avoid that bad experience altogether and improve the safety of your home by replacing any delicate or low-hanging light fixtures with something sturdy, modern, and out of the way. You might look into plastic light shades, fun modern designs, and much shorter chandelier chains.
Design a Homework Station
No matter how young your children are now, they will eventually start doing homework and then continue to do homework on a daily basis until they’re old enough to move out. Needless to say, homework has become a major part of modern family life so you might as well prepare both your home and your family for its existence.
Many children find that homework time is easier to accept and finish when they have a special place to do their homework nearby parents and caregivers who can lend a hand. This area should be out of sight of a television but still close to the family space so that a child doing homework doesn’t feel left out and can ask for help when they need it. Many parents choose to eat family meals in the kitchen/breakfast nook and turn old-fashioned dining rooms into homework and craft spaces. You can also set kids up at the kitchen island/bar or create a little office on the opposite end of the living room from the television.
Build Low Shelves and Cubbies
Children are notoriously messy as they joyfully jump from one activity to the next, but they are also more than happy to help with chores and clean-up as long as you make it a game. One of the best ways to get your children involved in keeping their own toys and clothes tidy is to make sure they can reach all the necessary storage areas. Children often have trouble putting away the boxes for their toys in closets and dressers.
However, as a DIY homeowner parent, you can make handy use of a hammer and nails to install a variety of child-height shelves and cubbies to become their personal toy storage. A low closet bar will make it easier for them to help with their own laundry (and dress themselves), and cube storage is a very popular way to upgrade children’s rooms, closets, and even bathroom organization.
Consider a Loft Bed and Play Area
Designing your child’s room is often a haphazard thing that happens over time. You get a bed here, a dresser there, pick up a fun rug a few years later. This is a fun way to parent on the fly but you might also put a little thought into improvements that can be made. One popular parenting trend for children’s rooms is the loft bed, a sturdy frame that takes the surface of the bed several feet off the floor.
The benefit of this is that it creates a lot of space underneath the bed high enough to be little play and storage area. This effectively puts the bed floor space to double-duty and gives you a chance to make a truly excellent blanket fort with the bed as your base.
Install a Slide on the Stairs
Long staircases have often been a challenge for small children who will spend several minutes carefully scooting up and down the stairs so as to feel safe. One fun way to make your stairs both safer and delightful every time a child needs to go downstairs is to install a slide. You can do this with several smooth lengths of wood polished and enameled, buy a premade stairs slide, or build a ‘sled’ that can be added and removed from the stairs at any time. We suggest a railing and a big cushion at the bottom as well.
Toddlers will enjoy the slide because they’ll be able to get from the top to the bottom quickly, but make sure to make it big enough for older kids who won’t be able to resist.
Slide-Out Steps in Key Locations
If you’re handy with a few basic carpentry tasks, one amazing addition you can make to your sinks, counters, and other raised areas is a little set of steps that slide out from the cabinet space below. This can significantly change your child’s experience of family, kitchen, and bathroom time. It can make hand washing and tooth brushing easier, helping out during meal preparation, washing dishes, and other shared counter experiences. The best way to do a slide-out step is to put small wheels on the back legs and rubber stoppers on the front legs. Then, the steps can be slid out by kicking up the front of the steps and pulling out with your toes.
Being a DIY parent is all about figuring out how to make the biggest difference with the most fun and achievable projects. Pick something you know you can do or challenge yourself and try something new. Not only will your kids have a great time joining you in these projects, they’ll also delight in the home you build for them for years as they grow up in the perfect kid-friendly house. For more great homeowner tips, tricks, and DIY projects, contact me today!