If you are thinking about running a day care from your home, you will need to be prepared to rearrange your living room in a way that is both safe and functional for young children. Even if you have a different room assigned as the main play and activity area, your living room will still have children passing through it often enough to warrant making it a safe environment. These tips will also be handy for grandparents who will have grandchildren visiting them often.
You may need to make slight adjustments in your living room furniture arrangement. Try to avoid placing furniture in such a way that long runways are created. Runways encourage children to run. Coffee tables and end tables that have sharp corners or glass tops should be avoided altogether. A fall from a chair or sofa onto a sharp corner or glass can result in a serious injury. Round tables or tables with rounded corners are much safer.
Avoid furniture placement that creates cubbyholes, blind spots or small spaces that children can squeeze into. The goal is to be able to physically see the children in the room at all times and all areas of the room should be visible as well. Do your best to create a large, open area where children can safely play and do other indoor activities.
Protecting Children and Furnishings
The next step is to protect both the children from any household hazards in the room and to also protect your electronics and furnishings.
All electric wall outlets need to be covered. The television should be kept in an entertainment center with cabinet doors that can be closed or you can get a flatscreen TV and have it mounted to the wall. However, you will still need to keep other electronics such as DVD players, game systems and remote controls inside some type of cabinet. Childproof latches should be placed on all cabinet doors and drawers.
Slipcovers are a great way to protect your furniture. If you have nice throw pillows, you may want to remove them during child care hours. Cheap area rugs can also help protect your carpet from spills and stains. Provide vinyl beanbag chairs for children to sit in, as they can easily be cleaned with a damp cloth.
You will need to sacrifice displaying fragile knick-knacks or collectibles unless they are inside some type of display case that can be locked. You can also install shelves higher up on the walls to display fragile items where children can't reach them. Just make sure you don't place a chair, sofa or table underneath the shelf, where a child could climb to reach these items.
Be sure to block stairways or hallways with a child gate. If you have a fireplace in your living room, you can buy a hearth pad to protect children from sharp corners and you can also buy a hearth gate that comes in sections to keep children safely away from the fireplace.
If you have houseplants, make sure none of them are poisonous. Small children will put just about anything into their mouths. Artificial plants are a good option, as you will not have to worry about finding a toddler with a handful of potting soil.
Using the Living Room for Child Care
If you will be using your living room for childcare part of the time, here are a few suggestions. Buy a small bookcase where you can store children's movies, books and activities such as board games and arts and crafts supplies, which can be stored on the shelves in plastic bins. Use a portable, fold-up card table for arts, crafts and games to avoid damaging your coffee table.
Find an empty corner or space to put a designated toy box. You can use an actual toy box or by a large plastic bin to use as a toy box. Encourage the children to return toys to the box when they are done playing with them.
Create a Safe Environment
Sharing your living room with small children requires you to put safety before design. However, with a little common sense and a willingness to be flexible, you can keep both your living room furnishings and the children you share it with, safe from harm.