Did you miss the beginning? Start here:
- Big family in a small house, part 1: Bedrooms
- Big family in a small house, part 2: Storage
- Big family in a small house, part 3: the floor plan
- Big family in a small house, part 4: Entertaining Guests
Although our living quarters are small, we are not forced to spend our days crowded together. God has given us plenty of space if we choose to use it.
Outside – We live in the country, so the kids can make all the noise they want outside. They can also enjoy all the silence they want out there.
- One of the girls has hung a hammock under the house (it’s several feet off of the ground) and she enjoys reading down there in the dim cool shade during the summer.
- Another child has a favorite tree that provides a spectacular view.
- Still others love to play in the woods nearby, or jump on the trampoline.
- Perry-Boy likes to “drive” the retired Suburban at the bottom of the driveway. He once took me to his aunt’s house and back without ever starting the engine.
Deck – We are blessed to have a rather large deck on the front of our house. When we have company, or when the children are just restless, I often send them out. The deck is close enough that I can hear them and keep an eye on them, but they are not underfoot like a pack of hungry puppies. This is perfect for noisy games and restless children. It’s also great for cold days when they are not likely to stay out for long. On muddy or even rainy days, they can play on the deck without getting filthy and bringing the mud back into the house.
Inside – I sometimes let the kids make blanket tents in the house. If they use heavy comforters, I find that their noise is heavily stifled, and they will enjoy the same sensation from inside their tent. If you toss some snacks and ideas in every now and then, you might be surprised at how long they stay occupied. “Are you Eskimos in an igloo? Have some seal jerkey and a whale-oil lamp, and don’t let the polar bears find you.” Actually I don’t have to come up with ideas because my children do it all themselves. Their storylines invariably involve kidnappers.
Flashlights, books, or an old laptop with a DVD drive will keep them busy for longer than you think. Oops. Did I say that out loud?
If they use a set of bunkbeds for the base of the tent, you won’t even have a mess in the living room.
If you don’t have these options, you might find that you can improvise. Do you have a garage that can be used as an alternative play area? A storage room or closet? A hallway or empty space behind the sofa?