A Happy Home for the Child With
Homes evolve. Just when you found the perfect place for the basket of blocks or a way to finally hang seventeen capes and princess dresses, your child walks through the door with a big smile and a lacrosse stick. The room that you were so proud of suddenly doesn't work anymore. And in a home everything from the closet up has to work. We want our homes to be warm and friendly but for that to happen, they first have to be functional. This is hard when it's just you and a cat. Throw in a couple of grown-ups and a few teenagers with learning differences and you're living in my world.
As a mother of three learning disabled children, I learned our home had to be more than happy and fun; it had to be a sanctuary. Most of a child's waking hours are spent in school. For the LD child, those hours are often spent struggling. They come home mentally worn-out with a backpack of work to be done. If the house is chaotic, if tape is lost and the scissors can't be found, tears or tantrums will follow. Everyone needs a home that works with them, rather than against them; the LD child just needs it a little bit more.
Give a Room a Cubby ... Well thought-out rooms make all children, LD or otherwise, feel more in control of their world ... which leads to self confidence ... which makes home a happier place. It is easy to "do" for our children, but it's so much better if they do for themselves. Self confidence is built one accomplishment at a time. When we teach them how to be independent, we are saying, "I believe you can."
And they can. Learning differences are just that, differences. If you are lucky enough to have a child with them, then you know the amazing ideas they have and the joy of seeing the world through their original eyes. It can be frustrating at first, like when they promised you would bake six dozen cupcakes for the bake-sale tomorrow. After too many late-night baking sessions, I started thinking about ways this would never, ever happen again. Over many years and with lots of trial and error, I found ways to make homes functional for all children, especially ones who learn differently. I have created a series of 4 posts (Happy Home) addressing how to make our homes happier places for our LD children and ourselves.
So, let's start with how space impacts routine...
You can't get out of the door on time.
You don't want stress to be your family's routine, so create an environment that supports a smooth exit.
Establish one place for backpacks, shoes and coats.
When kids come home from school, their job is to put these things in this place. For LD kids, and younger ones, you may need to model this - and then have them copy what you did. Don't be discouraged if you are modeling for a while. As long as you have them copy what you did, they will get it on their own.
What are your storage needs? Most of us are short on space, so figure out what your family grabs when they leave the house. If you live in Arizona, it's rarely going to be rain boots, but if you live in Seattle, they should be within reach. So, you need a place for them. A mudroom is perfect but if you don’t have enough space for one consider a bench with hooks hung above. The picture above (adiamondinthestuff.com) has two options to help the LD child: the photographs identify the child's personal space and the homework charts help them plan. However, some children can be overwhelmed by having too many demands in one area. If your child gets upset by the homework chart, move it out of the staging area. Ask them where it would be helpful.
Backpack,shoe and coat storage can come in many different shapes and sizes depending on needs and space.
The storage space does not have to be in your entry.
I had lockers built under our basement stairs. The kids used to come in the front door and down the stairs to put away their things away. The bins underneath the lockers can hold scarves, gloves, umbrellas, and sports equipment. The key is that you remind them to put their things away every time, no matter where the storage area is, until it becomes habit.
Maybe there is a closet you could convert to store backpacks and such. Take off the doors and have a bench built with bins or drawers underneath, keep the upper shelf, add some hooks and Voila!
I like this before and after. This new space is simple and accessible! My bet is no one used the closet before the makeover.
Great idea if you have wide stairs. This type of storage could also have doors to hide the clutter.
If you like closed storage these door lockers may be more your style. Remember 14" of depth is plenty.
Does the idea of having something built-in overwhelm you? There are a number of ready-made options on the market (some very reasonably priced). This unit from Pottery Barn is $599.00 (for 2 lockers). http://www.potterybarn.com/products/brady-2-piece-open-entryway-system/?pkey=cstorage-benches
Maybe space is at a minimum at your house. Try these backpack hooks from spacesavers.com on the inside of a closet and add low hooks at the back of the closet for coats.
Hang those hooks, arrange the baskets, show the kids where everything goes and look forward to more peaceful mornings!