Wednesday February 26 2014

Turn your compound into a fun place for children

You can borrow ideas from daycare centres and

You can borrow ideas from daycare centres and kindergartens which liven the compound with painted walls and things like swings and seesaws so that your children enjoy the outdoors. Photo by MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI 

Children love experimenting with their hands and feet.
This is why they are fond of picking up things, pushing movable furniture, touching surfaces and running as fast as their feet can take them.
If a child is the kind that loves playing inside the house, there are high chances that they are always going to leave it in a mess.
Home owners who hate seeing the disorder that their children make whenever they are playing in the house may allocate a designated play-space for them outside.
A good place to start is the compound.
“Homeowners do not need a lot of space to create a playground, a small portion of land can work well,” says Marino Pagril, an interior furnisher who also works as a landscape designer in Ntinda.
Some of the ways of making a home compound livelier for a child to play in include the following:

1. Create flat land and plant grass on it
If your compound is irregularly levelled, Pagril says you can create some flat space and have some grass planted on it.
“The grass protects children from sustaining injuries while playing,” Pagril explains.
The flat ground also makes it easier for the children to run around or kick a ball. It will also make it more convenient for you when you host a birthday party for your children.

2.Erect a tree house or even a tent
Have a tree house erected if you have some strong mature trees in your compound.
“If you have limited knowledge on how to construct them, it is better you have an expert such as a builder to do it for you,” Pagril says.
In case you are not comfortable with the idea of building a tree house, the other alternative can be putting up a tent in the compound.

Parents should, however, ensure that they monitor their children while playing especially those with tree houses. This is because they could easily fall from the tree onto the ground and in the long run hurt themselves.

3. Install swings and seesaws
These can either be bought or locally made. The manufactured ones usually come in different designs, sizes and colours. The usually locally-made swings are usually metallic, therefore ensure that there is no sharp protruding part, which may cut the child.
You can also make a swing by tying a rope to a strong tree.
“For purposes of comfort, something for sitting is then tied onto the end of the rope such as an old tyre or a piece of wood,” Annie Mirembe, an interior and landscape designer working in Katwe explains,

Besides swings, a homeowner may install seesaws in a designated part of the compound. These are long planks balanced on a pivot so that whenever there are two people seated, one will go down while other will go up. These can be bought from different shopping centre outlets or locally made using either metal or wood.

4. Make a small compound beach
Mirembe says parents can create a small beach for their children using either lake or beach sand and a portable swimming pool.
“A small-sized pit can be dug before putting the sand, since the deeper the sand, the more enjoyable it becomes for the children,” she says.
It is always important that parents check the sand first to see if there are harmful objects in it such as pieces of glass, razor blades or even small sharp stones. In case they are there, they should be removed.

Sand pits are enjoyable especially for children who like to play in the sand. You can get the children toys like a small bucket or shovel, which make it enjoyable to play in the dirt.
Portable pools are normally sold as folded plastic bags in various shopping outlets. It is while at home that one can unfold and put a desirable amount of water in them.
The advantage of using these kinds of swimming pools which tend to come in different designs and sizes is that they are affordable and cheaper to maintain. Mirembe, however, cautions parents to never let their children to play in these pools unsupervised because they can easily drown.

5. Put used car tyres in the compoud
In case you have a number of old used car tyres at home which you no longer need, you can arrange them in the children’s play area.
“You can have them painted in very attractive bright colours before arranging them into desired patterns,” Mirembe explains.
These tyres can also act as flower pots for various plants and used for making simple gardens, which you can plant with the children and encourage them to maintain.

6. Use different art to revive the compound
If your children love pictures, you can paint some part of the wall with their favourite animated characters.
“I have some part of our home compound wall painted with the Tom and Jerry cartoons because my five-year-old daughter loves watching them,” says Tracy Nanyonjo.
For those who think that the painting of the wall might be a little too much, they can opt for wooden sculptors for instance of animals and then have them placed in the different parts of the compound.

These sculptors always tend to fascinate the mind of any child as well as blend in a bit of artistry to the garden.
Just a reminder to parents once again. Remember to always supervise your children whenever they are playing outside the main house so as to prevent them from sustaining minor and serious accidents.

Portable swimming pools: At Mega Standard Supermarket, there are those which cost Shs16,000 and there are those that cost Shs55,000.
Swing ropes: They cost Shs12,000 each at Kibetenga’s Hardware Shop in Nakasero market. They come in different colours including green and yellow, which are bright enough for children.
Used Car tyres: Used car tyres are available in places such as Katwe. They go above Shs50,000.
Lake sand: In case you are worried about where and how you are going to transport the sand, hire a truck driver to do it for you. Their services are quite affordable. There are those who may ask for an amount as low as Shs50,000 or even a much lower amount Shs30,000.
A swing set: A four seater swing goes for Shs2.4m at the Aristoc toystore while a two seater sing can go for as low as Shs350,000 in Katwe, depending on which metal fabricator you talk to.
A merry-go-round: A four seater merry-go-round is Shs3.9m at the Aristoc. In Katwe, you can get it for Shs500,000.
A seesaw: This goes for Shs720,000 at Aristoc while it is Shs250,000 to Shs300,000 in Katwe.
A slide: This goes for Shs1.2m in Aristoc and Shs300,000 in Katwe.
A trampoline. This is a device made out of strong fabric and stretched over a steel frame and is used for bouncing up and down goes for Shs1.2m to Shs3.4m at Aristoc, depending on the size.

Before you let the children play in the compound, there are a few things to consider to ensure that they are safe. Peter Ssule, a landscape artist, points out the following:
• Look at the type of plants in the compound and make sure they are not harmful to children.
If you have poisonous or thorny plants, ensure that the children don’t play next to them by putting barriers around them if you don’t want to get rid of them.
• If you have a swimming pool, remember to cover it up when the children are playing.
• Fumigate the compound regularly so that your compound is free from animals that can harm children.
• Keep the grass in your compound trim and neat and have whoever cuts it check for broken glass and sharp stones regularly.