WRITER | CHRISTINA FORD
PHOTO | KELLY CURTISS AND ROB OVERBEEK
Creative Ways to Bring the Playground Inside
“I’m boooored!” Yep. I know you can hear it…all stretched out and whiny. That two-word sentence makes us want to instinctively recoil. No matter the thousands of toys we may own or the endless video games on hand, kids still complain about having nothing to do. Between dealing with scorching summers or the Polar Vortex, they are all about the indoors. Heck, can we blame them? However, with the amount of sitting they do in school or (ahem) in front of a screen, we want them to be active. So why not bring the outdoors inside?
I know what you’re thinking…where am I going to put an outdoor play area in my house? Trust me, it’s doable! Kelly Curtiss, of Highland, created an American Ninja Warrior course in her son’s bedroom! And why not? If he falls, at least there is a mattress to protect his landing. Kelly wanted to give her son a room that inspires him and speaks to what makes him feel personal joy and accomplishment. Um…a Ninja Warrior Course…in a bedroom…I think you passed the test, Kelly!
Being creative with the room you use is a must. Normally, bedrooms and playrooms don’t include a ton of square footage, so it’s ideal to use every practical inch of space. Take the ceiling, for example. Monkey bars, climbing ropes, gymnastic rings, and even swings can be added to your indoor playground paradise. Just be sure to secure each apparatus from the ceiling joists in order to properly support your child’s weight! The walls of a room can also be of use, especially if climbing them piques an interest. That’s right! Scattered all over the internet are ways to create your own indoor rock climbing wall. Just Pinterest it! And, of course, there’s the floor. Including items such as balance beams, yoga balls, and gymnastic mats presents extra recreational enjoyment.
Kate Overbeek, from Ada, took a different approach to her basement playroom – sports. With an indoor skateboarding ramp, basketball court, and a virtual golf game, her children had better not say they are bored! “Living in Michigan,” Kate said, “we never know what our weather may bring, if it’s conducive to being outside or not. We wanted a room that would keep our three boys active, happy, and entertained. Being centered on our kids, we use the space much more than we would a sitting area or a kitchenette. They still play iPads and Fortnite, but it’s nice when we kick them off of electronics – they have a place to go be boys and to work off their energy!”
Bringing the outdoors inside fuels a new element of excitement and creativity for the entire family. But remember, it’s not all fun and games. Well, it is, but you have to make sure that whatever indoor obstacle you incorporate into your playroom is safe. America’s National Program for Playground Safety gives height restrictions and other regulations.
Lastly, if you’re not interested in building your own playground or hiring someone to do the work, various indoor jungle gyms are offered on sites such as EZplay, Wallbarz USA, and Endurro.
So go ahead…let your kids swing from the ceiling and climb the walls.