Simone Davies discusses the challenges of turning your Dutch rental home into a child-friendly space.
So you have arrived in Amsterdam, you are renting a place, and you want to create a child-friendly home. “Aaaargh” I hear you scream. Here in Amsterdam there are crazy steep stairs, we have less space, not enough storage, you can’t fix things to the walls and you have no outside space. What are you going to do? Here are a few tips to get you started.
- Stair gates are your friend - placing stair gates at the top of stairs will stop any nasty accidents happening when you have your back turned. There are also some companies like Baby Proofers who will come and install gates for spaces where it is difficult to attach a standard gate.
- Ask your neighbours if you can leave your pram in the hallway at the bottom of the stairs to save you carrying it up.
- If your child is old enough to climb up the stairs, you can count the stairs, play games, or talk about something nice you are going to do together once you get home to give him incentive to get to the top.
No Built-In Storage Space
- Have some low shelves in the living room and your children’s room with a few well selected toys. This will help your space remain ordered, help your child to focus on his toys and make things child-friendly. Ikea have an excellent, inexpensive range to get you started.
- Toys that are not being used can be stored and rotated.
- Good storage will make life easier – buy storage such as wardrobes that you can take with you when you leave
- If you have a lot of things, you can rent a storage box for items that are not used often
- Live with less – donate your well-loved things, arrange a swap with friends, or sell things via Marktplaats.
- Fixing things to walls: Removable wall stickers are a rental-friendly option to decorate your child’s room. Tesa strips and hooks (available from hardware stores) are designed to come off without leaving any marks – perfect for hanging hooks at your child’s height so they can hang their own coat up.
No Outside Area
- If your child enjoys water, take a tray with a high edge and set up some simple water activities, for example, squeezing water from one bowl to another, having a tea party with a child sized tea set. Never fill the bowls too much, have towels ready and cloths your child can use to wipe up any spills
- If you have a small balcony, you can put out some plants for your child to water. Bird feeders are also nice for a balcony.
- Make the nearest park your backyard – dress warm, take rain clothes and have fun
Open Plan Living Spaces
- Use furniture to create different spaces in your home. Clever placement of couches can separate the living, dining and kitchen areas.
- If your computer is in the living room, it is nice to find a way to put it away when you are not using it to avoid inquisitive fingers.
- Find ways to give children privacy, for example, with curtains that can be closed or a dividing screen.
- Agree a time for no more talking and lights to go off.
- Teach children about respecting their siblings when sharing a room.