Baby, it’s cold outside. Well, not quite as cold as it will be getting — but, the outdoor playdates or hangouts for the kids are slowly moving into the house with the start of cooler temperatures and unpredictable weather.
For parents, that means finding a space in the home, free from adult intervention for the older kids, that will be a safe, comfortable and fun environment for your toddler, tween or teen.
With hopes to inspire and keep your kids moving and off the video games, the cell phone, and the television remote control, we found two creative, kid-friendly and technology-free spaces that will keep your child active and occupied for hours.
A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE
This family in Roslyn wanted a playroom that was safe for their growing family. The old playroom located in the attic was messy and disorganized with toys strewn about and not safe for a toddler and infant to roam.
This all changed when they learned about The Toy Tamer, aka Evelyn Cucchiara. In only one day, Cucchiara and her husband Joe transformed the 1,200-square-foot attic into an orderly space.
Cucchiara, a mother of three, drew upon her years of experience owning a family daycare and a children’s art studio. She says the concept behind Toy Tamer is having the right tools to help frustrated parents get back control by creating a customized plan that teaches behavior modification that works.
Her system is called the SANE Organizing Process.
“S” stands for sort and get rid of anything that children have outgrown or broken.
“A” stands for arranging the right shelving and the right size bins.
“N” stands for name, which is a picture label placed on every shelving cubby.
“E” stands for getting everyone involved, which means that when the bell rings, it’s cleanup time.
Her concept, she explains, is not color coordinated, but works off of a child’s innate sense of immediate gratification.
“While a clean playroom is wonderful, that’s just the icing on the cake,” says Cucchiara. “The real benefit is that your kids learn executive functioning skills that let them take over the playroom cleanup, so that as they get older they can organize and run their own lives. It’s vital that kids learn how to be organized at a young age so that these skills travel with them throughout life.
“Cleaning up for them now only results in dependent young adults in the future,” she continues.
Now, if Cucchiara could only help adults.
THE SPORTS COURT
The homeowners of this Tudor in Rockville Centre wanted an area where their three boys — ages 9, 11 and 14 — could play basketball and spend time with their friends.
Keith Mazzei of Keith Mazzei Interiors came in and created a sports court. The owner of the home, an alumnus of Ohio State, wanted to pay homage and replicate the court of the Buckeyes, the Ohio State men’s basketball team, from the red-and-white colors right down to the logo and college emblems. The court, explains Mazzei, was a full addition to the home and part of a home renovation project that took a year and three months to complete.
“The project was a 90 percent renovation,” he says. “Most of the old structure had to come down, but we were able to keep some of the old-world charm.”
Once the court was complete, Mazzei scored big, winning over the parents and the kids with his design sense and creative spark.
“I speak to and visit the homeowners quite often, and they’re always saying how the sports court is one of the most used rooms in the home.,” says Mazzie. “The boys are always in there playing basketball, roller hockey, baseball. It’s a multipurpose room. They’re in there spending quality time with their siblings, cousins, and friends.”
He adds, “In the computer and technical age that we live in now it’s nice to see that these kids are being active and enjoying the space and not being couch potatoes like most kids of their generation. I wish every home had a sports court for the active kid that wants to do more.”