10 things I have learnt since becoming a Mum...and no, it’s not all about nappies!
I have been a practising Landscape Architect for 17 years, and I have been a Mum (not practising, but for real!) for 17 months. As a Landscape Architect mum, here’s a list of things I‘ve learnt since having my daughter - things that will change the way I design play spaces forever!
1. Toddlers are busy, busy people...they like to cram as much into a trip to the playground as possible, and not just playing with equipment (although the swings are always a winner). Puddles, mud, sticks, stones and leaves are all highly entertaining. These incidental additions to play areas can hold toddlers attention for a while!
2. Prams are cumbersome, no matter how slick the design...so my favourite play spaces so far are the ones with no railings and therefore no gates to open. (I’m sure this will change as my daughter gets older, and all I long for is a fence to keep her in!)
3. Role play is a really important part of playing and development, so where possible there should always be an opportunity for this, whether in a purpose built play house or castle, or more imaginative design of a play space with mounds that can be islands, and paths that can be streams.
4. Hiding places for peekaboo games are the best. Tunnels, especially really long ones that mum can’t catch you in, are amazing.
5. Surfacing can make or break it...I‘ve found a new respect for wetpour surfacing especially for pre-walkers. Bark mulch was no good for my bum shuffling daughter, whereas wetpour was fantastic.
6. Sandpits provide a great place for digging and investigating, whether it’s wet or dry.
7. Mixing toddler equipment in with junior equipment makes for a more interesting trip (mostly good interesting, not bad interesting!).
8. South facing metal slides get hot. And rain puddles at the bottom, and sometimes at the top!
9. More nature...none of the toddler play areas I’ve visited have had any planting, logs, trees or boulders. These can be interesting for children of all ages, not just the older ones.
10. Toddler swings need to be placed at a height that accommodate children with long legs!