M and I were recently interviewed by the Denver Post about how to keep the little ones entertained (but safe) at home. You can read the full article here. My contribution to the article centered on the transformation my balcony goes through each summer.
As many of you know, I live in the heart of Denver. We live in a 2nd story condo, right off of a busy street, on an intersection that is the site of fairly serious accidents at least twice a year. We have bums, I'm practically on a first-name basis with the 911 guys, and we live right across the street from an apartment building only known as "the crack house". On the upside, you can find a liquor store merely by walking a couple of blocks in any direction, and porn 24 hours a day. Sadly, most of the hookers have left.
It's not what most people think of as an ideal environment for raising kids, but for us, it's home. And one of the ways we've found to cope is by making the best of what outdoor space we do have: our balcony.
The trick to transform a balcony into a play space is that everything must be portable and easily washed. One can't just hose everything off when it gets dirty. And because the balcony sits right off the living room, I can't stand to get one of those plastic Fisher-Price sand and water tables -- I would end up poking my own eyes out, staring at that thing all day. Not to mention that it's hard to store off-season.
So I've spent the last two years trying to find items that look cool, and are also portable, washable and store-able. Lastly, I want to be able to quickly transform the space from a day-use play space, to a night-use dinner space. Here's what I've found: