Like many people, I have vivid sensory memories of my parents' and grandparents' carpets: their smell (generally old and wooly with a hint of dust), their feel (from the better-kept soft and plush to antique scratchy and threadbare) and their ornate patterns (generally nineteenth-century Turkish with a few Southwestern Indigenous designs). I even recall having childhood dreams in which the mixed-up, surreal versions of various familial houses nearly convinced me they were real because the intricately patterned rugs looked so lifelike. So you could say the carpets, which adults don't notice nearly as much as kids do, were woven into my consciousness.
Invest in Quality
As every oft-tripped parent knows, children spend an incredible amount of time on the floor, interacting with carpeting with their entire bodies. So high-quality, natural choices are worth every penny: not only are they free of the toxins released by much cheap carpeting, but their qualities and craftsmanship will create lifelong memories that are woven over time into children's sense of affection for the places they grew up. This is all the more true for families like mine who move quite a bit: the carpets we played on stayed the same (with some fading and wear) even as the rooms around them changed.
Boring rainy days: an endangered childhood pleasure?
When I was a kid, no one needed to think about how to help kids have fun messing around on the floor, any more than they needed to encourage us to go sledding or climb trees. But today, children might spend most of their at-home lounging-around time glued to screens. We worry that they're not getting outside enough, but they're also missing out on those unsung, but quintessential, indoor childhood experiences.
Here are some ideas for when screen time is over and it's still raining out. They'll keep kids happy for a surprisingly long time, and might just create some lifelong memories of home that are sensory and specific, grounding the sense of nostalgia that keeps me going back to my family's house, where I like lounging around on the carpet even as an adult.
5 Ideas for Fun on the Floor
1. Nice carpets + bare feet = better
Caring for carpets can be a headache, especially in winter when little boots track in goodness knows what. If you have a nice new carpet or are picking out a new one, think about instituting a no-shoes rule indoors. It's the "civilized" norm in many cultures, and for good reasons. More and more scientists agree that barefoot is better for growing feet. And who doesn't have childhood memories of how their carpets felt underfoot? For that matter, why not slip off your shoes and enjoy your investment in quality carpeting to the fullest?
2. Carpet as nonslip fort foundation
Whoever has built a cushion fort knows that a slippery wood or linoleum floor just won't do. Those cushions will slip and fall like a house of cards. But carpets make a great foundation and a comfy floor for the inside of your kiddos' plush castle. Get away from your laptop, grab a book and crawl in there with them!
3. Games that work better on a carpet
Speaking of getting down on their level, carpeting sure helps prevent bruised knees. And while some of us like lying on a hard floor, if your feet are in the air with a probably-too-big-for-this child balanced on them, it helps to have something to cushion your back. Same goes for spontaneous wrestling matches.
When kids seek to fill those gross-motor needs by running races around the house, carpeting helps them hug the corners without wiping out. Of course they love sliding in their socks on bare floor, but as my mother used to say, "socks don't grow on trees!" And neither do ER copays. Carpeting keeps them safe when the chase is on, and it even spares those nice wool socks you bought them for Christmas.
4. Take a "magic carpet ride"
Okay, so now would be the time to admit that "Aladdin," which came out when I was six, kept me hopeful that the throw rug I periodically tried jerking into the air (while sitting on it, of course) would someday lift off. Your kids probably won't have any better luck than I did, but, as with many of the sensory indoor games in this post, they'll be learning the laws of physics without even knowing they're learning.
5. Make throw rugs "islands in a lava pit"
Does this one need any explaining? Bare floor is deadly, duh! Don't step on it or you're burnt to a crisp. Why doesn't the carpet melt in the lava? Aw, mom, you ask the dumbest questions.
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