Monday, January 24, 2011

Bedroom JungleGym

I've been talking about doing this (blog) for a while, and was inspired by my youngest, today. It is winter here in Ohio, and not as easy to zip outside and use some of that built-up energy. We thought about trampoline, but as last night was below zero, Storm nixed that idea. He was tempted by the bedroom, though.

In our family bedroom, we have a progressive set up that has ended up being like a mini gym. First, our oldest, Wyl decided he didn't want to sleep alone anymore, so we got a free double bed from someone who was giving one away. We didn't have a frame for it, so my handy husband, Dave, constructed one from 2 x 4's and plywood. We crammed it in between our queen size bed and the wall. There is *just* enough room for the door to open with a hair's breadth of space between the edge of the door and our bed. Storm's crib was across a narrow area of walking space between 2 dressers & a closet on one side and a dresser on the other side. You couldn't fit anything else into that bedroom!

As Storm grew, the need for more sleeping space became apparent - especially since he has consistently been taller than other kids his age. So, when someone else we knew was giving away a loft bed, we grabbed it, quick! Dave modified the plywood that Wyl's mattress lay on, drilling/cutting holes just big enough for the legs of the loft bed to drop down into.
(just like this picture, but the opening for the ladder is on the left, rather than the right)
So, now we have a single, loft bed above a double bed, so the ladder wouldn't sit in the opening (double bed in the way - I'll try to get a picture and post it at some point), so we put it at the end. I wasn't worried about the opening, because the pillow is at the other end, and if they choose to go out through the opening, there, they come down on the double or the queen bed.

This is has given my children ideas of bedroom jungle gyms: They hold onto the bars and do all sorts of flipping, hanging somersaults, one-armed twisting and all sorts of interesting body contortions. It gives focus to that large energy, uses large muscle groups, gives them exercise, builds muscle and balance, stretches muscles, and best of all: is *fun*! I never realized what we had on our hands when I thought we were just putting in another sleeping spot, but my kids figured it out pretty quickly.

The bedroom has become a favorite winter place to play. Not only do we have our bed-gym, but it is also loads of fun to roll oneself up in a comforter like a burrito and inch around the beds like a caterpillar. We also have long tickle sessions, there - always stopping *immediately*, when requested. Sometimes, there is rolling and somersaults and wrestling on the big bed surface.

When this sort of use of the loft bed first started, we made sure to remind them about their past gymnastics lessons and how to tuck their chin in and drop onto their shoulders, rather than head or neck, and not to use the beds as a trampoline (some families do allow this, but as we have a 14' tramp in the back yard and have had 4 mattresses reduced to shreds of material and springs, we redirect jumping sessions outside.), and we're there 95% of the time when they're using up big energy in that room, so it's "safe". I put that in parenthesis, because there's always a chance of accidents: shins crashing, a wild arm whacking someone's face, a distance misjudged and a head bonking the headboard, but we've had very, very few of these, and those that we have had were very minor.

It's a bummer that not everyone can manage this setup for their high energy kids, but there are folks who have options *we* don't have (like basements with blow-up bounce houses! :~D ), and I'm really glad this worked out the way it did. Yay for kid ingenuity!