As a father of a growing family, my family and I are currently going through a lot of transitions. My daughter just turned 3, my wife is pregnant and due in a few months, and we have just sold our house.
Part of the process that we’re going through is evaluating good homes, apartments and townhouses that will work well for our family. As part of this process we’ve come up with 9 essential home features for young families to keep their sanity.
1. Split up the chaos
One of the best ways to keep your sanity as a young stay at home parent is simply through separation. Townhomes and houses that have two levels allow the parents to unwind downstairs, while the kids are sleeping upstairs at nap time or when it’s time to go to bed. By having a level of separation parents can relax, watch a movie, or be intimate without worrying about young eyes that could peek through from the other room.
2. Fence in the Fun
Kids love to run and play, especially with brothers and sisters, friends, and family pets. With a fenced in backyard, kids, friends and pets can run and jump and play together happily and safely, without the temptation to run out into the road and without the temptation to run off to somewhere they shouldn’t be without mom or dad.
3. Stear clear of busy roads
Being near major highways always poses an obvious risk to children. As a general guideline, if you can hear the highway, then it’s too close to your family, and it could pose a risk to you and your kids. I like to use the golf rule. If you could tee up a golf ball and hit the ball onto the highway from the yard, the highway is too close. 300 yards or farther should be a safe distance for young children.
4. Open Spaces to Play
Kids love Grass. They love to play games, and play organized sports such as soccer and little league baseball and all sorts of fun activities. With each of these activities, kids need room to play. Large back yards and large open green spaces are ideal for playing in the neighborhood. Even if you don’t have a large back yard in your next potential home, check out the nearby parks and fields. Is there open space for kids to run and play?
5. Is it Pet Friendly?
Do you have a favorite family pet? Our family has a small Papillon dog named Simba. My daughter Ruthie describes Simba as her best friend. One of the ESSENTIAL features of our next home or townhouse is a place that will accept small animals like Simba. Pets are an important part of kid’s lives. They can teach responsibility, discipline, and they bring joy through friendship and playfulness. Make sure to accommodate your child’s pet when considering your next place to move.
6. A place for Toys
Does your house have a toy area or a toy room? This doesn’t have to be anything fancy. It can be as simple as an open den area or a back cement room where kids can store all of their favorite toys, and play with them openly. Back cement and storage rooms are often only seen as storage rooms, but a lot of physical activities are possible in rooms with hard floors including riding a bicycle or tricycle, riding around in a cozy coupe car, or bouncing tennis balls. Be sure to consider both the storage and toy room potential of your next home, so kids can entertain themselves when you just need a break.
7. Children’s Museum / Mall area
Over the last few months my daughter has come to love going to the children’s museum. She also loves going to play in the center of the mall in the kids area. Both of these activities are now part of our regular routine, to help Ruthie develop physically and socially. When you’re moving to a new town or city, what kinds of kids museums and kids play areas does that city offer to the public? Be sure to check out all of the family fun activities of your neighborhood and of the greater metropolitan area.
8. High Speed Digital Education
While everyone may not agree, I believe that having fast Internet access is going to be a key piece of your child’s education. More and more child’s electronics, tablets, laptops, smartphones and a host of other devices are designed to be connected to the internet. With an internet connection, kids can download games, puzzles, interactive learning tutorials, flash cards, and all sorts of applications that can not only enhance, but truly define the scope of that child’s education. Make sure there are a few options, such as DSL or Cable based Internet. When you combine a fast internet connection with a virus proof computer with great kid-safe controls such as a mac book pro, the result is a fantastic learning tool for your child.
9. Beach / Lake / Water activity access
Last but not least, check out the local beaches, public pools, and water activities that are available for children. My daughter Ruthie loves to go to the beach and play in the sand and the shallow safe waters of a nearby lake with her “Nana.” My wife also enjoys taking our daughter to a local toddler safe water area called the “splash pad.” The splash Pad is a small water fountain with a large spout in the center, and about 10 smaller water spouts that surround the big center spout that kids can run and play in.
The water is 3” at the deepest point, so there’s no risk of kids drowning, and the 30’ by 30’ area is fenced in, with benches to sit around the edges and watch their kids have fun in the water. IF you’re considering a move to a new area, scope out the area for splash pads or other kid friendly water activities.
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