Today I want to talk to you about something that is almost a right of passage during childhood. Something that is a great anytime activity. Something that the whole family can get involved in. What am I talking about? I am talking about building a fort. Yup, a fort using dinning room chairs, large sheets/blankets and lots of imagination. Something about crawling into a homemade place to play, sleep and chill helps make a common area in the home seem magical. Even though this activity can be done anytime, winter is a great time to bring some more fun to the house. Hey, we are stuck inside most of the time anyway so let’s make the most of it right?
Not only is this homemade space extremely fun for everyone to get involved in, as a parent I can say it is so awesome that it is technology free fun. Who doesn’t want to find things for their kids to do away from those screens, right? I know for us, screens are all of our go to boredom busters. However, having too much of a good thing, is well, not good. So recently when our little one was caught using his tablet when he wasn’t suppose to, I took it away for a whole day. You would have thought I took it away for a year the way he reacted. Anyways, after seeming to go through all his usual things to do, he just sat in the living room bored, not knowing what to do. I gave him the idea of making a blanket fort and he jumped right up all excited. He spent hours getting the fort built, set up inside and playing in it. Honestly, taking the tablet away and having to play without a screen gave him the opportunity to try something new to him. Something he was so excited about. Who would have thought right.
After working hard on his fort, Hayden got so joyful about it that he asked if he could sleep inside of it that night. His face seemed to light up the room when I said yes. He jumped around he just won a million dollars. After pulling in more blankets, pillows and of course stuffed animals he sat down next to Daddy and asked if he wanted to sleep in his fort with him. Daddy gave me this look like, get ready to sleep alone, soon. Daddy said that sleeping in the fort would have to wait till the next night, Friday. That way when morning came Daddy could get off to work without waking him, but the answer was yes. Boy was Hayden excited now.
Hayden was excited that he could sleep in it for two nights now. He settled right in and had a blast sleeping in his homemade fort. However, come morning I opened the window for our cat to come in (yes, he uses a window instead of a door) and guess what our wonderful cat did. He jumped right out of the window into the center of his fort, and guess what happened. Yup, the whole thing collapsed. Boy was Hayden bummed because he really wanted Daddy to sleep in it with him. Well, I talked to Hayden about how we just needed to set it up differently tonight. Knowing that the fort was being re-set up, our middle son, Cody, decided he wanted to get in on the fort building.
So Friday morning we tore down the old fort and the kids started planning out how they wanted the fort to look. They knew they wanted a door and they knew they wanted it to cover most of our living room, because now there would be three of them sleeping in the fort. After dinner the two younger boys, Daddy and I got to work building this new, bigger, fort. With some trial and error the kids and I figured out that using bag clips, we got free from the local home shows, works great to help hold the blankets and sheets to the chairs and tables. Of course, if you have girls around, hair clips would work as well. After some time, the fort was finished and everyone was excited about it. By this time our oldest, who is in the teen, too cool to be a part of kids play stage came in, and he even got excited about the fort too. He asked if he could check out the inside. The boys said yes and after only a couple minutes he had pulled out a deck of cards and had asked Cody if he wanted to play with him, inside the fort.
Daddy pulled his camping air mat out so he could at least get some sleep and got to work setting up his sleeping space. Cody decided to sleep under our school table and Hayden set up right next to Daddy. With the living room having been taken over I gave up on the idea of using the night for writing. Instead I was able to take a shower, without lots of knocks at the door, and spend some time reading in my now quiet room. Who would have “thunk” that not only would the punishment of taking away Hayden’s tablet bring him, Cody and Daddy joy but I got the added perk of some alone time. Something that just doesn’t happen often.
So a few tips for fort building after our trial and error.
- Large, flat sheets work way better than blankets.
- Use clips to help hold the sheets to the chairs.
- Line up dinning room chairs, with the seat facing out of the fort. This gives more space inside to play.
- When you can’t use clips, heavy books work great.
- Couch cushions work great as side walls.
- Tables make great space to play underneath, and also a great starting place for your fort. Rectangular tables work well as side walls, like you see in the picture above.
- Kids are going to love making and playing in their fort, so think of a place that it isn’t going to be in the way so it can stay up for a few days . Or be prepared to give up that space for some time.