The weather’s rubbish, the garden’s out of bounds, so I’ve bitten the bullet and done the honourable thing by converting my cherished man cave into an adventure playroom for my son.
I remember when we first had a baby, and everyone told me we had it easy until he started crawling. I didn’t believe them, obviously, because I always think I know best, and in my opinion back then nothing could possibly have been more challenging than trying to keep a newborn baby alive!
Of course, I was wrong.
At around 9am on the morning he turned nine months old, Sonny got mobile. We’ve been encouraging him to crawl for the past few weeks, foolishly thinking it would be great fun and cute to have a rampaging toddler instead of a static baby for company. Obviously, the reality is somewhat different. Less than a week later he was emptying cupboards, digging around in the fireplace, playing with radiators, chewing wires, chasing the dog, sizing up the stairs, and even taking a full-length nosedive off our bed that luckily ended with a safe landing on my foot while I wasn’t looking.
This boy’s got some serious energy, and we needed somewhere indoors for him to channel it due to the rain and sleet peppering our garden. Sonny’s bedroom’s already packed to the rafters with toys, as is our living room, and our kitchen, and our loft (not to mention all the baby hazards they’re also packed with) so there was only one thing for it. The man cave had to go, and the playroom had to be created.
When we bought our current house 18 months ago, I inherited a good-sized room off the back of our garage that had been converted into an office by the previous owners. At first we didn’t really know how to use it constructively apart from as a dumping ground for our endless mountains of old furniture, shoes, coats, DVDs and CDs, but from the moment I first saw it I held a long-term dream of turning into a fully-functioning man cave – complete with giant wall-mounted TV, PlayStation, beer fridge, Kelly Brook calendar, and Sky Sports subscription.
I now realise that was never going to happen. The playroom was always going to happen.
At Christmas, despite promising ourselves we wouldn’t buy too many flash toys for a kid who still loves cardboard boxes, car keys and TV remote controls more than anything else in the world, all of a sudden we had a 6-foot cuddly lion, a play tent complete with crawl tunnel, a ball pool, a basketball net, an activity mat and tower, an inflatable cow, a Jumparoo, and about 500 other ridiculously extravagant toys I can’t even remember. So we decided we needed somewhere to put it.
I used to spend all day in bed on New Year’s Day with some kind of biblical hangover, but I spent January 1st 2017 emptying the last shreds of furniture and any traces of my beloved CD and DVD collection from my former man cave, painting the playroom walls, coating the door in blackboard paint, then buying a soft vinyl floor for Sonny to crash about on.
The following weekend, he moved into his new playroom. We’ve added foam panels to the floor in areas we think he has most chance of toppling over, installed a door gate so the dog can’t get in (and Sonny can’t get out), and stuck a couple of Ikea Kallax shelving units along the wall to house all his clobber.
The good news is Sonny loves his playroom (and to be honest so do I). We play in there with him every day, and he even entertains himself in there by himself if we have to pop out of the room – always closely monitored by the sneaky CCTV on our baby monitor.
As he grows up I’m sure this playroom will grow with him. Stuffed lions and ball pools will eventually be replaced by punchbags, consoles and eventually his own version of a man cave, but for now the playroom is his very own little indoor adventure playground.
Who says you need to go outdoors to have an adventure?