This outdoor playhouse makeover is brought to you by boredom, anxiety and Pinterest! Like many of you, I have been confined to my home during this Pandemic and looking for ways to pass the time during those moments you just need a break from the stay at home routine. For me, I have always enjoyed redoing and fixing things so when I took a look at my kids outdoor playhouse I thought now would be a perfect time to give it a makeover.
You can pick up virtually any used playhouse and customize it. Ours was something we already had, but just needed new life.
What you will need:
Sandpaper/ sanding block or machine
Paint primer for outdoor use
1 Gallon outdoor paint for main house – I used Behr Paint Soft Pebble
1qt for trim & accent color semi gloss – I used Ballerina Pink
The reason I let my kids get dirty, is the reason for their memorable and happy childhood. Every toddler should be exposed and have outdoor play as their daily routine. It is crucial in child development and it aids in helping a child explore their own imagination. This is why I let my kids get dirty. One of the most annoying things for me is hearing another parent yell at their kids while they are playing at the park “You’re going to get dirty!” That is almost as bad as the time I heard a dog owner yell at their dog at the dog park to “stop playing” and I roll my eyes…
Have you ever heard of the saying “The dirtier the feet the happier the heart”? Well now you have! Everyone has their own parenting style. With Instagram being so popular it has give rise the children’s fashion and moms being more concerned about the type of clothes their 2 year old wears than what they do. My parenting style is let them be kids!! Kids care about what they do, what you do with them and the attention you give them…not clothes. As far as outdoor play I absolutely love letting my toddler play outdoors go the park to run barefoot in the grass and the sand. To get grass stains on there clothes. To get so dirty they need a bath every single time we come back. We are fortunate to live in an area where its nice here weather wise about 350 days of the year so playing outside is our daily ritual. My kids easily spend 6 to 8 hours a day playing outdoors. My backyard currently looks more like a day care center with all the play structures and areas I have set up for them, but what if you are not as lucky to have beautiful weather or a backyard?
Here are some tips to incorporate it into your life.
If you don’t live near a park or an area with nice weather here are some tips and ideas to experience the senses.
Plan a weekend nature walk at a nearby park or trail. Collect leaves or rocks or pine cones.
My kids LOVE going to the park or on “hikes” yes I put quotations on it because a hike with toddlers is just a longer walk in an area other than the sidewalks of your neighborhood. My daughter gets super excited when we go “hiking”. I have taught her to look at her surroundings and she will now spot snails, pine cones, squirrels, pretty flowers, etc.
Get Yourself a Water/Sand Table
Water tables are fantastic! They do not cost much and take up little space. You can use it with water or with sand. If you are tight on money, buy one used or make your own version using an old plastic under the bed container. You can set one up indoors, on a porch, patio or the garage!
Bring the outdoors in!
No matter where you live, leaves are everywhere! Collect some and bring them in. Have your toddlers trace them, crunch them, touch and play with them.
Embrace All The Seasons!
Lucky you if you have seasons! I live by the beach we don’t get snow here… I have to travel up an hour for it and we don’t have a ton of trees for the fall foliage, but whenever there is a slight difference in our always 75 degree and sunny weather here…. I take the kids out and we play! Yup jump in mini puddles of water, crunch leaves at the park, check out the clouds in the air.
Most importantly enjoy the outdoors regardless of the weather. Other than extreme temperatures, there really is no excuses why kids should not be allowed and encouraged to play outdoors. Embrace the cold, embrace the wind, the rain, the humidity… Just have fun and go outdoors.
This past Christmas my husband and I spent 3 days in the central California area known as Big Sur. I am sharing our travel tips geared towards travel with kids as we were traveling with a 2 year old and an 8 month old. Hope you get something from it. I welcome any questions and comments. The drive from San Diego is just shy of 7 hours. I know what you are thinking….”7 hours in a car with two kids! Are you F ing crazy!” Maybe, but we had no other choice. Travel by air to this area is complicated and we would need to lug around 2 car seats, still rent a car and deal with 4 total hours of security & waiting at an airport. As you can see, we just drove. Load up the tablet with YouTube videos and snacks for the road and we were off.
Day 1 We took highway 1 from Cambria all the way up to Monterey. This stretch took us a little under 2 hours. If you are prone to motion sickness, you may experience a bit of it as the roads are one way winding, but it is GORGEOUS!
Big Sur Stopped at a restaurant called Nepenthe. This was a total surprise. Beautiful view, bathrooms (no changing tables) a cute cafe and gift shop. The view was gorgeous and a tranquil place to stop after all that driving.
Photo opportunities at McWay Falls & Bixby Bridge.
Day 2 Monterey Aquarium– LOVED IT! I know that at almost $50 a person for adults and kids over 3 pay it could be hard for most families to go, but if you can stretch your dollar, I total recommend it! The exhibits at the aquarium are some of the best I have ever seen and I’ve gone to quite a few.
Cannery Row– The aquarium is right in this area so walking this area right after or before is convenient. Lined with souvenir shoppes, seafood joints and other cute shoppes!
17 Mile Drive/ Pebble Beach– We then headed to the start of the 17 mile drive. It is about $10 per car, but again worth it. The scenery is gorgeous which makes for awesome Instagram worthy photos. The whole drive took us about an hour or so to complete. This is with us stopping often.
Carmel By The Sea– It is just a short distance from the end of the 17 mile drive. We headed to Ocean drive the downtown area and ate at a very good Greek restaurant called Dametra. After dinner, we walked down to the beach just in time to play in the sand and watch the amazing sunset.
Roaring Camp Railroad- This camp is in the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park national park about an hour north of Monterey. My daughter is totally into trains so I had come across this railroad through a travel group and knew I wanted to bring her. The ride is on an old steam engine open air train which takes you up the mountain. The ride is about an hour and half round-trip. Bring snacks and check the weather.
Santa Cruz Boardwalk– I lived in New Jersey for several years, and this boardwalk was impressive! It rivals the East Coast boardwalks. Super cute! Lots of rides and carnival game booths.
Fisherman Warf Monterey– Came back for an afternoon stroll and dinner. This pier is lined with your typical tourist souvenir shoppes and restaurants serving mediocre food.We fell for the tourist trap and had dinner here. Nothing spectacular, but again, you eat for the sake of eating and the ambiance.
Dennis the Menace Park – Super cute and well thought of park in Monterey. It was designed by the creator of the hit TV show…no wonder it is so well thought of. It is a kids paradise! If you are between 1 and 100 you will like it. Cute view of a man made lake with ducks. You can rent little boats to ride and the park offers endless options for kids.
After a morning at the park, we checked out of our hotel to head back. Overall the trip was a great option for a long weekend getaway.
If you are planning a trip to Disneyland and have toddlers read my tips below. I recently visited the magic kingdom with a 2 year old and a 8 month old. I admit I was a bit hesitant to go. I didn’t know if it was worth our time, money and the hassle. However, with proper planning and my tips below your trip to Disneyland can be as magical and awesome as was ours!
Stay at a Hotel WALKING distance.
Even if you are only able to visit Disneyland for one day, book a hotel! There is so much to do and see that you want to take advantage of the entire day. The park does stay open late. This is the day to break all bedtime rules and have fun! Our hotel Spring Hill Suites was 2 blocks away. We parked the car there and walked to and from Disneyland.
2. Bring Your Comfortable Stroller.
I can not stress enough how important a stroller is… a COMFORTABLE one! I opt for my tried and true Double BOB stroller. When taking a flight I use the Uppababy G I know that thing is gigantic, but it rides so smoothly and is roomy and my kids can be comfortable in there. Not only that, but the thing is a tank and it can lug around all the crap you need to pack when you travel with kids! Prep the day before and load that puppy up. Wipes, diapers, snacks, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, etc.
3. Head Straight to Toontown for Characters.
Ok so Toontown is where Mickey and Minnie live… yep they have houses there and for some reason Mickey has a big’ol house while Minnie house is small :/ come on Disney! Anyway you and your kids will need to wait in line we waited 20/35 mins for each, but it was so worth it! My daughter flipped out when she met Minnie. They have a photographer there taking pics so see tip #5.
4. Download Disneyland App
So like I said they have photographers at all these character experiences and you will want to see the pictures. Well if you have the app, not only can you view the photo gallery you can and SHOULD add the MAXPASS that day its an additional $10 if you add that same day and you have access to ALL the photos taken during your visit. yup ALL the pictures instead of paying $15 each photo! Also the app you can see the wait time for rides, view a map and pre order food so you don’t have to wait in any lines.
5. Take VIDEOS
Ok so since you have the app and access to photos take VIDEOS when your kids meet their dream characters! My daughter must have watched the video of her meeting Minnie like 100 times the next day! You will get a photo anyway if you do what I suggest above.
6. Take a Mid Afternoon Break.
Even adults will need a break. Your kids will be tired and being able to walk to your hotel to take a nap and refresh before coming back to the park for the night parades and shows.
7. Bring Snacks.
Ok so $10 for a corndog is never ok… I mean seriously Disney… I have a love hate relationship with you on this! Not only are kid friendly healthy and inexpensive snacks and food hard to find, when your kid is hungry they need something like NOW, not when you can locate it. You are able to bring in snacks and water.
8. Dress in Layers
So we went in December and I thought it would be a bit cold. Thank goodness I dressed us all in layers. I was sweating! Better to remove and put on clothes than to be too hot or too cold.
A Learning Tower is an amazing addition to your home and your toddler life. Many parents and parents to be have never heard of one. Leaning tower? Nope, Learning Tower! Before I get into why, let me first tell you what it is. It is a spruced up step ladder with safety siding of course.
My daughter has had one and used one since she was about 12 months old. She uses it to wash her hands, reach the sink and wash dishes with me, she learned how to crack and egg and make breakfast!
This learning tower is one of the most popular ones two choices for you
Or if you feel crafty you can make one!
Ok so back to the why… Because it allows for your toddler to participate in every day activities and some! My daughter learned to crack an egg at like 18 months and has also since then been helping me wash dishes.
Learning life essential skills is a Montessori fundamental. Creating Independence is too! You don’t know how many times I have witnessed my daughter grab her tower and move it to the sink to wash her hands or wash dishes.
I call my toddler daughters room design “Modern Montessori”, because I feel I have incorporated many of the Montessori philosophy, but gave it a modern cute twist. Whether this is good or bad or not Montessori appropriate I really do not care, because well I love her room! Her room has become one of my favorite places in the house.
One of the biggest and best things I believe in and implemented right away when she was 11 months old was the idea of the floor bed. Montessori philosophy is all about giving children independence through movement and little restriction. When in a crib obviously for safety reason the baby needs to be restricted, but once they are able to move giving them freedom to explore and make their own decision as far as when to go to sleep is important. In a traditional toddler bed the baby still has a rail and restrictions to height. Possibly needing you their parent to put them to sleep or ask to be taken down their bed. With a floor bed, the child is free to decide when to go to their sleeping quarters and when to wake up. This decision not only give my daughter a place to mark as her own territory meaning she can go take a nap and wake up from her nap on her own. Mind you many times she still needs me to lay with her until she falls asleep.
My husband built this bed for her, if you or your husband are not gifted with the art of building or know how to use tools you can try Amazon or here is one too Toddler Floor Bed. We used a twin size mattress.
As far as bedding goes. I love Pottery Barn Sheets so I splurged and bought her some. For the throw pillows and accessories I love shopping my local Marshalls and Homegoods which is where I bought hers.
I used Ikea spice racks as book shelves and most importantly hung them low where she can access the books whenever she wants…. which is ALL THE TIME! Her favorite book is the Bright Baby “Primeras 100 Palabras” literally brings this big book around with her everywhere!
Black and white images and things that aren’t very busy are recommended… I am not too sure if this I Love You ABC counts, but I love it! It was one of my few Pinterest projects that actually turned out well! She also likes to see pictures of family meaning her nana, tata, daddy, mommy, and her dogs so I have those accessible too.
Rock-A-Boat Seesaw & Floor Mirror
The floor mirror was something she used a lot while she was a baby. I used to lay her next to it as soon as 1 month old for floor & tummy time. The Rock-A-Boat which you can purchase here I know it is not cheap, but for us we saw it as an investment. We are the type of parents who favor quality heirloom toys vs lots of cheap toys. We introduced it at 11 months, but she didn’t have any interest in it though until about 16 months. The cool thing is that it acts as a stairclimber and then a rocking boat later.