Mefites with young children: what do you love/hate about your house?
July 7, 2015 2:59 PM   Subscribe

I will be moving to a new city for a new job soon, along with my husband and 1-year-old. We're trying to work out which features of a house/flat we would really benefit from and which we don't need so much.

Our ideal situation is a big house in its own grounds with excellent public transport links a short walk from my office. Our budget won't stretch anywhere near that, though, so we're going to have to compromise on some things. This could mean a tiny 4th-floor flat right in the middle of the city near my office, a bigger house with gardens further out in the suburbs, or anything in between - and we don't have a lot of time to choose.

Possibly relevant: we don't drive (but will be in Edinburgh with good public transport), husband works from home, and we'll be aiming to live here until Catseye Jr. is four or five but will be leaving before she starts primary school.

So: did you appreciate having as much room as possible? Outside space: worth the pricier rent or not? Better to live right in the city with a shorter commute, or further out where it's cheaper and quieter? Advice like "make sure you can fit a stairgate on the staircase" or "ideally get somewhere with a bathtub, not just a shower" or "laminate flooring and downstairs neighbours is not a good combination" is also much appreciated.
posted by Catseye to Home & Garden (37 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
The most important thing is that there is a big wall - not just a refrigerator - to prominently display your childs amazing artwork. Hopefully enough to have more than a couple years worth of work at a time so everyone can enjoy the progression and changes. I loved that wall.
posted by H. Roark at 3:09 PM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yard space is good, but proximity to a park (with at least one slide and swing and a good fence) has been much more important to me. If you do have a yard, it needs a fence.
posted by Night_owl at 3:13 PM on July 7, 2015 [13 favorites]

We have a smallish yard, which we like, but more importantly, we are walking distance to two different playground; I would consider that a bigger priority.

One thing I would change about our current place is that the master bedroom is on a different floor than the other bedroom; I would prefer them being closer. We currently have our toddler son in a crib in a weird little alcove area with no door; this is going to be a problem when he transitions to a real bed. I would have liked a room with an actual door for him at this age.
posted by Ideal Impulse at 3:14 PM on July 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

It's good to have your evening relaxation space away from your kid's sleep space so you don't have to worry about noise.

Levers rather than knobs mean kids can open doors sooner... which can be good or bad, depending.

Stairs mean more potential for falls, so definitely baby gate those if needed. My house is old and none of my old gates worked because the doorways are so narrow so I had to get new ones when I moved in, not all gates will fit all openings.

Space for toys is a must.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 3:14 PM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Being able to walk to school, to the shops, to the nearest small park, and to friends' houses has been a really positive thing. Children need to get out and walk to places as early and as often as possible. Our kids were evicted from the push-chair/buggy as soon as they could walk confidently, and never looked back.

A split staircase rather than a single long flight of stairs is a safety plus.

We find that a dedicated area (in our case, half of the living room, divided by a large sofa) for play, with a small table and chairs (Ikea) works much better than just toy boxes in a shared space. Our kids can engage in activities spanning several days without having to tidy up in-between.

A single bathroom and only one toilet is something I don't think I could live with. Having to jump out of the bath because someone in the midst of toilet training needs to go is a pain.
posted by pipeski at 3:27 PM on July 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

My biggest consideration when looking for a place to live is being able to walk to public transport and a grocery store/supermarket in fifteen minutes or less.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 3:37 PM on July 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

Nearby other young families, to enable outdoor play and independence as soon as possible.

Access to transit (we had no car) and close proximity to car co-op

Safe biking streets (for us to ride on, as well as for kid to learn)

Nearby recreation centre/community space that is family friendly (swimming pool we could walk or cycle to was a major a bonus in saving hassle, or spontaneously adding exercise to encourage sleep).

My fave living situation when my son was young was in university family housing -- I looked out the window to the little park where all the kids played. Parents hanging with a glass of wine at the playground after dinner while the kids romped about = some of best memories.
posted by chapps at 3:38 PM on July 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

We're willing to (and do) pay a large premium for

(a) Being on the first floor with direct access to a bit of outdoor space, ideally with a fence: This can seem like a silly preference, because it's not like it's a huge trip to go to the park a block away. But it makes a huge difference in how much my time my son gets outside, because playing in a yard can happen for five minutes at a time or while I'm cooking dinner just inside. Even a two-year-old can generally spend some time playing outside without your direct involvement, whereas a five-year-old probably still can't go to the park alone. (This isn't a question of "how little can you get away with supervising them," it's about how much outdoor time they can get out of a fixed amount of supervision.)

(b) Being close to places you go, especially places you go with the kiddo (e.g. grocery store, daycare): This actually gets to be a bigger issue as kids get older, because they no longer just ride in a carrier or stroller. I don't drive either, and at five my son is now pretty good at keeping up on a brisk walk up to a mile or so. But we go slower when he's tired or there are interesting plants on the sidewalk. A few years ago was probably the peak of this--I missed the stroller so much sometimes!

As far as layout goes, it's nice to have any space designated for a kid be adjacent to general living areas, so that while you're doing other stuff the kid can be playing but not totally isolated. Play space and sleeping space don't need to be in the same room, and neither necessarily needs a dedicated room.

We don't care much about noise or total space. On preview, only having one bathroom has never been an issue either. (I'm a little confused about why anyone has to get out of the tub if a young kid has to use the toilet, unless the parent in the tub is the one who needs to help the kid, in which case they were getting out anyway).
posted by cogitron at 3:39 PM on July 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

I like having a backyard because I can let my 3 year old daughter play outside while doing other house stuff nearby. Also, right now the strawberries and mulberries are ready so we can harvest a few each day. Blackberries may be ready in a week or so. The quality of the produce isn't that great, but picking and eating it right there is such fun.

We co-sleep so having a bedroom big enough for the 4 of us is important for us.

Multiple washrooms. My daughter kicks me off the toilet all the time because she can't make it to the one downstairs.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:41 PM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Our house is currently a side-split and is really open so it is great for keeping an eye/ear on the kids.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:43 PM on July 7, 2015

My biggest disappointment with where we live right now is that there are no children in a block radius that are the age of my older child. There are lots of kids the age of my younger child. I think it's important to have nearby potential playmates.
posted by Doc_Sock at 3:45 PM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

I agree about being in a walkable neighborhood; interacting with neighbors and people in the shops teaches kids that they are part of a community. And they love being part of a community!

I don't think a large yard is important, but a little outdoor space, to play with dirt and grow some seeds is. We have a large yard and my 4yo is only just now becoming interested in going out there regularly. Proximity to a nice park would be a better trade off.

Our LO wants to be where we are, so a toy room or large bedroom with space for toy storage isn't important, but plenty of toy storage in the living room is.

From one until about 2.5yrs our LO went in the shower rather than the tub, it was only when he was older and had taken swimming lessons that he was allowed to play by himself in the tub and that having a tub became sort of important.

Biggest issue for me is nice neighbors, and a place where I worry neither about how loud our family is, regardless of time of day, nor about what my LO may hear from the neighbors.
posted by vignettist at 3:46 PM on July 7, 2015

I would want to be on the first floor. Our house is elevated (nobody lives beneath us) and that was kind of a pain during the toddler years, and we didn't even have to contend with irritable neighbors getting angry every time the kids ran across the living room. Also, my kids may be extra lazy, but I have lost a lot of hours negotiating with children about whether they were going to climb the stairs or needed to be carried.

So much of it is personal preference. I'd be fine with one bathroom because my kids want to be in whatever one I'm in anyway, but my husband thinks two are a necessity. I like being able to kick the kids outside so a yard would be a priority, but being able to walk to parks with other kids is probably a bigger one.
posted by xeney at 3:51 PM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Easy access to some kind of outdoor space is a must. Having a playground nearby is excellent, but still requires you to pack up snacks, diapers, etc. when you go out. Having enclosed space that has been childproofed is great because it means that even pretty young kids can be left for a few minutes while you go to the bathroom, get them a drink, and so on. But the playground is fine as long as it is close.

Your child WILL run, jump, etc., so if you are looking at upper floor flats do try to pay some attention to how sound travels in the building. If you can, ask other people in the building about it. It will make your life easier to not be shushing Catseye Jr. all the time.

In general I think that space is overrated with children of that age--they do not want to play by themselves in a playroom; they want to play with you. So unless you cannot stand having toys strewn about your living room, there's not much point in having a separate space for them.

I do think that whatever living arrangement minimizes your commuting time and makes your life easiest is the best one--no one with small kids has any extra time, so find something with good quality childcare close by that doesn't require you to sit on a train for an hour to get home or to the nearest grocery. If that means a slightly smaller place that's fine.

When Catseye Jr. is older schools and private space will become more of an issue, but we lived very happily in a 2-bedroom apartment for 4 years with first one and then two small kids.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 3:52 PM on July 7, 2015

Washer dryer on the same floor as the kid(s) rooms. Anything else is icing on the cake.
posted by AugustWest at 3:55 PM on July 7, 2015

Don't get a place with sliding doors on the bathtub. It makes giving a bath a huge PITA.
posted by sutel at 4:07 PM on July 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

Water is a great kid neutralizer in a meltdown situation. If you have a bathroom--even if it's small--where you can put a chair or pillow so you can sit and have a glass of wine or play the guitar as the kid bathes, you'll be surprised by the sanity boost. OMFG I don't know what to do = give the kid a piece of fruit and a bath.

Might be relevant, might not, but: one nice cavernous basket that looks nice, with handles, with a lid, gives you a way to clean up a whole bunch of crap at one time and then once a week you can take it to the kids room and distribute it. This will prevent you from picking Legos out of your toes endlessly.

Safety wise, make sure any low hanging windows can't be opened easily and are made of tempered glass and that any screens are securely, securely, securely in place (hi, welcome to my nightmares). If you're in a 4th floor walkup, I'd consider making it a habit to open windows at the top rather than the bottom.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:11 PM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Also we raised our kid until she was 4(?) in about 700 square feet and then moved to a place that is 2700 square feet. In both of those spaces it's worth noting that a) we were happy and b) the stuff that really binds us together has to do with a merging of public and private space i.e. having her easel (Melissa and Doug!) in the kitchen so when we are all in the kitchen, there was a place for her there too even if all mom and dad are doing is having cocktails at the kitchen island. Having our laptops in the living room--kind of integrating 'comfortably shared experiences' that can exist in parallel. In the new house she has an art table in the living room--so I guess like, making it a true community space and not just one that caters to exclusively the kid or exclusively grown ups. Integrated lives.

Until she's a teenager and totally rejects us. :(
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:24 PM on July 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

You want minimum stairs between your front door and the sidewalk.
posted by SemiSalt at 4:38 PM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Based on my experience living with my 1-year-old in a 700-square-foot, 3rd floor walkup in a residential neighborhood in a city...

1. Living above anybody - you will have to keep your toddler (and yourself) quiet at inconvenient times and it will be miserable, stressful and crazymaking
2. Not having any rooms with doors - you will have to make every inch childproof, which isn't possible

2. Space in bedroom for a king-sized bed in case of sleep difficulties. I don't know what your sleep strategies are, but I can tell you that if we had (space for) a king-sized bed, many of the challenges we've struggled with would have ceased to be real problems.
3. A dishwasher.

Things we really appreciate, roughly in order of importance:
1. Proximity to *FOUR* playgrounds (we're extremely lucky), with two just across the street, and lots of local kids
2. Having an attached, safe screen porch where our toddler can play without constant supervision
3. A bathtub
4. Our bedroom shuts properly with a real door (unlike previous apartments)

Things we don't like:
1. 3rd floor walkup - in addition to the misery of trying not to disturb the downstairs neighbors, hiking up and down with a toddler (or younger baby) + groceries/school bags/playground toys/swim gear/etc. is pretty annoying
2. No real outdoor space. Would be THRILLED if we had a fenced yard he could play in whenever he wanted, in any weather. This would be a huge quality-of-life increase for us.
3. No good place to store stroller (we're able to use a first-floor porch right now, and for the first year we basically always used an Ergo, but it's a pain)
4. Not enough space indoors to do anything messy at this age. Our 1-year-old is never more than a couple feet from the (rented) walls, the furniture, and so on. It's not practical to clean our microfiber couch every time he wants to paint, you know? I so wish we had a room that could get dirty, and be cleaned easily. We don't have room for "junk" furniture that we don't care about.
5. Difficult to cordon off babyproof areas in an "open concept"/very small kitchen/dining/living area

If we're dreaming, we'd love to have a second bathroom, a bedroom big enough for a king-sized bed, an extra room in which to do art/science projects, direct access to a yard, no downstairs neighbors, lots and lots of closets for storing non-childproof items without looking enticing, and enough space that we could speak above a murmur after bedtime. Or, like, watch a movie or have dinner with friends. It's a very small space and it sucks not to have room to actually relax. We can't even walk to the bathroom normally since the 100-year-old floors are extremely squeaky.

But really, we have a washing machine, so we've got it made.
posted by Cygnet at 5:17 PM on July 7, 2015 [5 favorites]

Things my friends with kids have mentioned as necessities: eyeline from kitchen to play space (whether living room or outside space); kids' rooms and parents' rooms within hearing; bathtubs (bathing even a 1-year-old in a sink or shower is not that doable I'm told).
posted by mchorn at 5:42 PM on July 7, 2015

Will Mr Catseye be primary caretaker of Wee Catseye?
I live in Toronto, where daycare is a HUGE issue (there are way more children than spaces, especially when they're very young). For us, being walking distance to our daycare is really important (I can see it from my my front window). It gives my husband and I much less flexibility in terms of working hours, but the trade off is that we've never had to drag a cranky toddler on public transit.

It's also great because when we have interruptions to our work schedules (home sick, out of office meetings, work from home days, etc), we don't have to travel to do daycare drop off.

Easy access to basic shopping (a well-stocked corner store is sufficient), washing machine, and minimal stairs to front door, as previous posters have mentioned, are all essential.
posted by dotparker at 5:54 PM on July 7, 2015

Most of these have already been said, but:
  • fenced outdoor space which you can see clearly from a (kitchen, ideally) window
  • in unit laundry (washer and way/place to dry clothes)
  • lots of hidden/closet storage space, or room for storage furniture, reduce toddler temptation and tantrums
  • bath with no sliding doors, our bath is kind of built in with a ledge all the way around which is great for putting toys on during and between playing
  • play space in kitchen (doesn't have to be big, b/c they'll probably want to be no more than 6" from you anyway ;)
  • proximity to one or more playground or children's activity
  • proximity to shopping
  • black out window coverings (or windows which can be covered) in the kids room. I lived in Edinburgh for a bit and my bed was under a skylight and in the middle of summer it was very difficult to sleep.
  • preferably ground floor, but at least a ground floor place to store the stroller
Have fun! It sounds very exciting!
posted by pennypiper at 5:54 PM on July 7, 2015

This is not easy to come by, but our home has a fenced in outdoor play space shared with many families with kids and visible from each unit's kitchen. From age two, the kids that live here can safely play outside for hours with many friends. This is worth... I don't know, I think I'd give up almost any other feature of my house, or many together, for this: a
well used safe playspace accessible to the house and shared with lots of other kids. If you see something like this in your search, JUMP!
posted by wyzewoman at 6:18 PM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Things I would pay more for:
1. A little outside space, even a tiny one so that your little one can have sand & water play. I was pregnant again before my daughter turned 2 so some days, when I couldn't face going out, she still had access to some outdoor play. We had tomatoes & flowers in pots as well so tending to plants was also a fun thing we could do.
2. Being close to a supermarket, a popular playground and transport.
3. Less stairs the better. Getting a one year old plus stroller plus groceries up to the third floor was a daily ugh for me.
4. Other mums/kids similar age. Playmates, babysitting, community.
posted by stellathon at 6:50 PM on July 7, 2015

Taking a stroller up and down stairs is a huge pain. Some walk-up apartments have a place where you can leave a stroller safely, and without your neighbours complaining. Most don't. Note: even if you can leave a stroller downstairs, you'll still have to carry your kid upstairs if they're little or asleep or both.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:59 PM on July 7, 2015

We live in a dense city with lots of greenspace, but houses are small. We used to live in Los Angeles, which is a glorified million mile suburb with shitty public transit but private space/yards galore. By a huge margin, the former is vastly preferable to the latter. I'm so happy our kids are comfortable with (and good at managing) public transit, unfamiliar parts of town, and urban life in general. Our oldest grew up almost entirely in LA, and he doesn't react well to density or unfamiliar places or anything that doesn't involve driving from home to destination. I love him, but I honestly regret that he has that suburban affinity now.

That said, we're also in a neighborhood that we trust, and don't generally have qualms about our kids being out of sight. They have transit cards, they know where the skateparks are, they like hanging out with friends and exploring.

Our house is tiny, and it took a lot of adjusting to be comfortable with a single bathroom (shower scheduling and time limits = essential) and limited soundproofing. We've worked on resolving the sound issue over time with insulation and other noise-reduction strategies, but the bathroom thing will never go away. It's manageable, though, so I only think to grumble about it on occasion (mostly because I know from experience that I can walk around the block to the bar and use the toilet if it's urgent). The bathtub is huge and awesome but hasn't been essential.

I would encourage you to consider the possibility of maximizing small spaces if you go that direction by keeping a keen eye on prospective homes' unused spaces. We converted our formerly unused "attic" crawlspace into a tight loft with a pull-down ladder, and at some point in the future we may do the same with our "basement" crawlspace. We installed a living room murphy bed. We got rid of a tremendous amount of nostalgic clutter. We use a wall hanging rod to store heavy quilts instead of stuffing them into limited closet space, doubly helping dampen sound transmission through walls when in use. That sort of thing. We talk all the time about how living small and tight feels much more like an education than did wide-open suburban living.

Good luck to you, whichever path you take!
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 7:10 PM on July 7, 2015

How long do you plan to live there? If it is until your child is in school then you want a place that is near a good school, ideally in an area where all the other kids go to the same school and where most kids walk to school. Having friends and parents nearby is GOLD once they are school age. Top priority. Seriously. Everything else pales in comparison.

I would want outdoor space. We have a yard but I would have settled with just nearby parks/playgrounds as well. Others mentioned water/sand play when they are little, and the convenience of having this right there out the back door. I agree. Two bathrooms is good as they get older, not necessary for little ones. Laundry in the house was important to me. Local services and transit are also important, including local recreation services.
posted by Cuke at 7:33 PM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

1) Bath and shower combo in case of sticky poop or toilet accidents
2) Outside space failing this parks nearby
3) shops within walking distance
4) good bus routes
5) Place to store pushchair especially if a flat which, is not on the ground floor!!
6)Decent flooring and soundproofing if a flat
7)Good storage for all the junk you seem to acquire with small children- loft space
8) Windows with locks and that have the ability to have restricted opening
9) Go for smaller bedrooms in favour or larger kitchen and living room spaces-
10) Seperate kitchen and living room
11)When you find somewhere you like visit it at different times of day to check for noise etc
12) somewhere that you can put a dryer even better a laundry area/room that is seperate from kitchen
13) After living right in town, on the borders and now a 15 minute bus journey away I'd take the bus journey every time for the amount of space and peace we have here.

posted by Mrs T at 7:48 PM on July 7, 2015

The SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR in people's happiness? Kids? Nope. Getting married? Nuh-uh. Winning the lottery? Oh fuck no.
Shortness of commute. For real. As close to work as possible=more time to spend every day with your family.
posted by sexyrobot at 8:17 PM on July 7, 2015 [5 favorites]

You don't say if you're moving from elsewhere in Scotland/UK to Edinburgh, or from further afield.

We moved from Canada to the UK when our son was 1.5 (he's now 4.5), and here's what we've found most important:

The number-one thing we love best about our home is the neighbourhood. Specifically the fact that it's full of other families with kids of a similar age. As Cuke mentioned above, nothing else really compares to being near a good school - you get instant community with everyone else whose lives are on a fairly similar schedule. It also helps a TON if you don't live near family/friends, because you'll come to depend on this little community if you get stuck and need someone to watch your kid for a couple hours, or just need to borrow that proverbial cup of sugar.

A short commute and proximity to a good nursery will also be important. You often only have about 30 minutes on either end of your workday (if you work full-time) when the nursery is open, so if you have a long commute, it'll mean you need to choose a nursery near your work, instead of home. This means driving basically to work if you're taking a sick day, just to take your child to and from nursery (unless you like having your kid home with you when you're sick). And if your nursery is near home, and your future primary school, your kid will almost certainly have a bunch of friends from nursery also going to that school, which will ease the transition somewhat.

As for the residence itself? I was worried about all sorts of childproofing/child convenience things, but as wonky as some things can be, there are an awful lot of standardizations, and products available where you are will generally be suitable (or at least adaptable) for the kind of house you end up in. Basically I've found that anything interiors wise is a mild annoyance and easy to deal with, compared to issues caused by poor location.

If you are lucky enough to have some other choices:

-Ground floor is really helpful for pushchairs/scooters/bikes.
-Walkability to shops, etc. is very nice in a city with small roads and limited parking
-Bathtubs (rather than just a shower) have never been a necessity, but are handy for washing all manner of things aside from just people!

Good Luck!
posted by jennyweed at 2:27 AM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

- Easy access to the garden. We previously lived in a 1st floor flat that had steps down the garden, which meant we barely used it, and in the summer kid couldn't just wander in and out of the garden if we left the door open. Personally I don't mind if the garden isn't huge, anything with a bit of grass for playing on and a bit of patio for BBQing on is better than nothing.
- Toilets on all floors, good for toilet training when there's a sudden "daddy I need a wee!!".
- Parking very close to the house (if not on a driveway) to save time and effort carrying stuff to & from the car (this is good even without kids, but kids means way more stuff to cart around).
OK, you don't drive :) A short walk to public transport is good. Being able to walk into town as an alternative is good too, so having both options is optimal, but given the choice between easy walk to town and close to public transport (but too far to walk) I'd take the latter for the days when kid is tired or the weather is bad.
- Space in the entryway to easily store a pushchair.
- Definitely have a bathtub and not just a shower.

This could mean a tiny 4th-floor flat right in the middle of the city near my office, a bigger house with gardens further out in the suburbs

I would choose the second one, every time (assuming there's good transport links). Short commute is great but not if you come home to a tiny flat with not enough storage for all the baby stuff that you don't need any more but want to keep, the kid stuff that is too big currently so you have to store, and all the other stuff you accumulate.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:41 AM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh and second that a small corner shop within a 5 min walk would be great if you don't have a car.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:41 AM on July 8, 2015

Yeah, I neglected to mention how much we LOVE living in proximity (few hundred meters) to two particular places in particular:
Nice grocery store
Good, cheap, fast, child friendly restaurant that does take out for days when either cooking or eating out properly is too much to face
posted by Cygnet at 6:44 AM on July 8, 2015

Clearly a house with a yard is ideal, but if you can only get a flat, then balconies, balconies, balconies. I love having a balcony because I can send my almost-2-year-old "out to play" without actually going outside. On hot summer days we put a tub of water out there with a few cups and let him go at it. He can play with dirt, sand, and other things I don't actually want inside my house, and he has a plant that he takes care of (as best he can). He even spends whole minutes at a time watching cars and pedestrians go by.

Our balconies are quite small- just the width of the french windows and stick about a 1.5 feet out, but it's plenty for him. We bought some reed fencing (not sure if that's what it's called) at a garden supply store and lined the railing with it to keep him from throwing things out.

YMMV extremely, though, as I live in central Spain where the weather is totally different.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 7:32 AM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have a four year old. The most important thing to me was to have outdoor space, not necessarily big. This was instinct, but there's also a lot of science that shows that kids benefit from being outdoors.

We both work full time, and the kid is in daycare. There just isn't time during any of the weekdays to get to a park. Nevertheless, my kid can be outside in the morning and the evening (and we also picked a school that would have him outside during the day).

Also, he can use that space for messy art projects that I don't want inside. And for gardening, which I think is such a rich learning experience.

The outdoor space is pretty childproofed, and he has been allowed to go out there by himself very early on. He can run around in all kinds of weather. He doesn't care. But I do. I wouldn't go to a park when it's raining, but would gladly open the door to let him soak it up.

For us it was a good decision, because it turns out that mine is the kind of kid who needs to run all the time. He literally bounces off of walls when he has to be inside too long, and the release valve of the yard has been just invaluable.

Good luck finding something that suits the needs of your family!
posted by pizzazz at 4:36 PM on July 10, 2015

The biggest thing we loved -- our yard. Outdoor play is so important at that age. The biggest thing we overlooked-- schools/kindergarten. It will be here before you know it & in the US you have to be in the map area to go to a school. If you hate it you can sometimes transfer otherwise you have to move. Time flies, enjoy you're little one!
posted by litgrl at 8:54 PM on July 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

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