If there’s anything you’ll notice throughout your parenting, it’s that children need and thrive off of structure. This goes for all life forms, but especially young children who are developing in their curiosity and confidence. Caring for a young child in the home can get overwhelming and intimidating pretty quickly. You have to ensure they are in a safe zone and supervised most of the time. One of the best ways to ensure your child is safe in the home while giving you peace of mind is by creating a designated play time area.
Why create a designated play time area for young children
As we already mentioned and you probably already know, young children do best when their day-to-day lives embrace some kind of structure. Structure doesn’t have to mean over-bearing rules and regulations however. The term itself has a bad reputation but what it really means for young children is creating their lifestyle around organization and function.
Before your child is even in pre-kindergarten, their daycare teachers are responsible for creating a “schedule” for the classroom. This isn’t just because it’s a classroom full of toddlers — it’s actually because we, as humans, thrive off of structure. And it’s healthy for young children.
Young children especially have short attention spans. In order to keep them entertained and calm, the activities have to change quite frequently. Some children can hold their attention longer than others but it’s an inevitable quality of all young children that must be considered when planning a day’s schedule. This is why creating a designated play time for your young children can be monumental to their development. Not only will they remain safe in their designated area, but they’ll also know that whenever they are in that “space,” it’s time to play!
Where your child naps shouldn’t be where they play.
Young children have difficulty separating their thoughts and actions based on their current situation. It’s simply because they just aren’t far enough in their development to know the difference in situations.
If a child spends all morning playing in their bedroom, to then laying down in that same room to take a nap, they are more likely to have a hard time falling asleep because they now are associating their bedroom with playtime; just as we’re told when we're grown adults, “don’t work where you sleep.”
Buffer reported a study from The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard that said when we work from our bed, we are subconsciously forming an association of wakefulness with our bed.
We do this as grown adults, so how can we expect our young children to flip the switch and fall asleep with ease in the same room that they play in?
How to Create a Designated Playtime Area for Young Children
DISCLAIMER: You may be required to clean out the guest bedroom that is hoarding all your life-long nick-nacks that you’re in denial of acknowledging. (We’re confident this scenario will do you much more good than harm. You’ll thank us later.)
In all seriousness, maybe you don’t have the luxury of having an upstairs lounge or extra bedroom in your home. However, most of us all have a designated space that we call the living room! Why is it called that? Because it’s predominantly where the family lives — in other words, where you spend the most time.
Unfortunately, if you’re a parent of young children, you may have to sacrifice your trendy, kept living space and share some footage for a designated playtime area. Even if you have an extra bedroom, a central space within the home is sometimes best because it’s easier to supervise!
Here are some tips for creating the perfect designated playtime area of your young children:
- Pick a location in your home that is easy to supervise.
- Build out a parameter of space so your child knows that this is their space to roam freely and keep toys. (This can be as simple as laying out a play rug or setting up a portable playpen).
- Make sure the space is not associated with other activities like napping, eating, etc.
- Ensure the space is free from harm. Avoid spaces that are near cabinets filled with chemicals, pointy objects, and large, unstable pieces of furniture that hold lots of decor such as bookshelves.
- Only feature a small variety of toys per day. Put the toys on rotation so your young children don’t get bored after one sitting.
How to Build Structure In Your Home and Avoid Young Children From Getting Into Harmful Areas
Once you’ve created a designated playtime area for your young kids, you’ll begin to see how they naturally gravitate to this space when they know it’s that time of day to play. It’s important to only allow them in this space when it’s time to get hands-on and play with their toys.
This amount of structure will help them to appreciate their time spent in the play area and avoid them from burn-out. As we mentioned earlier, kids are easily distracted and bored. By making this space for fun only, they will always look forward to it and remain (somewhat) in place.
Not only will your young child become more disciplined, but they’ll also most likely stay out of troubled areas. You can only baby proof your home so much — there are always going to be spaces in the home that are off limits for children of all ages. Since young children are so curious and don’t truly understand the dangers of their unknown surroundings, implementing this kind of structure is another way to prevent accidents from happening. After all, no one wants their child to end up hurt, especially in the comfort of their own home.
Why Play is Important for Young Children
Reported by the Official Journal of The American Academy of Pediatrics, “Play is essential to the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical well-being of children beginning in early childhood. It is a natural tool for children to develop resiliency as they learn to cooperate, overcome challenges, and negotiate with others. Play also allows children to be creative.”
As parents, we shouldn’t be intimidated by our children’s curiosity. We should embrace it. By incorporating a designated play time area for your young children, you can have peace of mind as they explore their surroundings and let their imaginations soar.
Here at The California Beach Co., we care about all children and their safety. The essential item we recommend that can help create a designated space for playtime in your home is the Pop ‘N Go Playpen.