All children long for a haven, even though they don’t know it. Surprisingly, creating a haven for children might look a lot different than you may imagine.
The mere thought of creating a haven for children may give you nightmares. If you’re like me, you’ll automatically visualize a mess of toys … like a gigantic toy store has exploded in your home.
Fortunately for you, creating a haven for kids has nothing to do with toys.
What is a haven?
Before you start thinking about your children’s personal preferences, I’d like you to stop and think about what a haven actually is.
A haven is a safe place. It’s a place where people feel loved, accepted, and wanted.
Truly that is all any child wants. Forget about all the toys. Forget about all the technology. Forget about all the stuff. Feeling loved, accepted, and wanted is all that any child longs for.
Of course, your son or daughter will never say that. Because they don’t realize it and can’t verbalize it. They may ask for every toy, gadget, or belonging that catches their attention.
But stuff is not what they truly need. It’s you. It’s your love and attention. It’s your acceptance and time.
Stuff may keep them occupied for a very short time, but it will never give lasting satisfaction. And stuff will never fill the void that relationships can – especially a relationship with parents.
What belongs in a child’s haven?
Now that you know a child’s haven doesn’t require stuff (hallelujah!), what does it actually look like in your home?
Since a child’s haven is based on relationships, you have the freedom to decorate your home the way you would prefer.
If you have young children, you’ll want to pack away any breakable belongings for a while. And you’ll need to expect a mess – and figure in extra time picking up until your children are old enough to start learning how to help around the house.
But beyond a messier, child-proofed home, you have a lot of freedom.
Personally, I suggest lots of books around to encourage a love of reading. Research shows the more actual, physical books you have around your home, the more your child’s education will benefit.
Along with books, setting aside at least one family meal time a day will help nurture your children. Research also shows that family meals together help your children dramatically.
Turn off all screens and devices and spend the time eating together and talking together. By unplugging for a mealtime, you’ll be able to focus on each other. Instead of nit-picking at the way your children are eating, use the time to talk to each other. Help your children learn basic conversational and social skills by visiting together.
Since children need relationships, I’m also a huge advocate for limiting screen time. Less screen time is proven to help children. Granted, less screen time means you’ll need to spend time figuring out other ways to fill your children’s time. And for busy parents this can be a huge challenge. That’s parenting, though!
In my home, I love to stick to creative basics like art, building blocks (hello, LEGO!), costumes, or reading. These activities will keep your children occupied while helping them learn and develop their imagination and creativity.
Toys don’t have to be completely forgotten – if your children enjoy playing with them, by all means let them play! But toys don’t have to fill every room of your home. In fact, by limiting toys to just a few spaces will help you manage the mess and encourage your kids to use certain spaces to play.
As your children are nurtured by you, learn basic relational skills, and are encouraged to use their creativity, your home can become a haven that will help them learn and grow.
If you’re a parent, what do you do when you’re creating a haven for children?
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All images courtesy of Unsplash.