March ABODE: Growing room


 It’s been three snotty, sore-throated weeks in the Baker household. After a lovely snowed-in weekend with family up in Philadelphia, we brought home some belated Christmas gifts and what we have been referring to as the Demon Cold from Hell. The sickness first hit me on the return drive to Charlottesville. My two sons, Pierce (4) and Judah (3) were coughing by bedtime. Aaron, my stalwart husband, held out for another day. Not wanting to share the virus with others, we stayed home. For a long, long time.

Who needs the park? An indoor swing keeps 4-year-old Pierce occupied. (Photo by Cramer Photo)

Despite being sick, my sons’ energy level seemed to stay, ahem, pretty normal. Meaning I wanted to stay in bed all day, and they wanted to run in circles while throwing stuff at each other, preferably with loud rock music playing in the background. What was an exhausted and ill mom to do?

Our small Belmont home doesn’t allow for a lot of indoor, gross motor skill-type physical activity. As an active and creative family, we make the best of the approximately 1,000 square feet that is available to us. Ever the inventive go-getter, my husband is always fabricating new ways to play. A saddle maker by day, he often uses the leftover bits of leather in his non-equine related creations.

The latest addition to our in-home playscape is the swing. Crafted from a scrap of leather and some climbing rope, it hangs between the kitchen and living room. “We have to wear our helmets now,” explains Judah. “Because Pierce fell off and donked his head on the concrete [floor].” True, an indoor swing may not be the safest entertainment option, but we’ve learned to mitigate risk.

Alternatively, we have a wooden marble track that spans the length of their shared bedroom wall (another one of Aaron’s weekend creations). During the height of the Demon Cold epidemic I set up a teepee in the living room as a quiet napping and reading nook. The boys use it every day, carting in books by the armful and blankets by the bunch.



A cozy spot for quiet play may provide young ones with a needed incentive to be still for a bit. The ingenious Fortamajig (Alakazam, $40-80) can be configured in many ways to create a haven for imaginative play and impromptu rests. Perfect for those days when everyone’s stuck indoors.—C.B. 


A while back we mandated that toys needed to stay in the boys’ room or at least end up there by bedtime. It has worked pretty well to keep the common areas kid-clutter free. But there is nothing like having two sick kids and two sick parents to really wreak havoc on the state of one’s home.

The key to maintaining some sense of order has been to make sure everything has a place and everyone knows where that place is. I quizzed Pierce the other day, asking him to list his stuff and where it belongs.

“Cars: basket,” he stated matter-of-factly. “Shirts: lockers, drawer. Shoes: shelf. Coats: hang-y thing…” What a proud mama I am! But seriously, if he can tell me where things belong, then he can put all of that excess energy to good use and help keep this ward tidy.