Saturday, September 5, 2015

Baby-Proof the Patio with Foam ABC Mats

This is basically a brilliant, inexpensive idea to make your home that much more baby and kid friendly.

I was sitting at my friend Katy's place when I saw it. Like so many in Silicon Valley, she has an apartment. Rent here is through the roof, and buying a house is a joke unless you want to put down over a million dollars on a tiny 3 bedroom home built in the late 70's. Yikes... I don't mind apartment living, though. I love that I can drop off my baby monitor with my sweet neighbor so I can run a quick errand or go on a date. There's less space to clean and less pressure to decorate, paint, and remodel it to perfection.

Yet now that I have a beautiful toddler, I really wish I had a backyard. Yes, there's a park just around the corner, but sometimes it would be nice to let SourPatch have his fresh air fix without leaving the house. We're lucky enough to have a little balcony, but a small rectangle of cement never seemed like a great playing spot for a baby.

Back in Katy's living room, about a year ago: As we were chatting, I saw from the window that on her balcony, she had a colorful, foam ABC puzzle mat. You know the ones, right? I knew they existed, but I had always seen them used indoors. When I asked her about it, she said that many of our friends did the same thing to their patios. So apparently this isn't an original idea, but I had never heard of it.

One trip to Ross later, and I had myself a package of 26 alphabet puzzle squares for $12.99.  This covered less than half of my balcony, but SourPatch was just a little guy, so it worked out great. He and his friend could soak up the fall morning in colorful comfort.

But, like all children do, Patches began to crawl. Everywhere. So imagine my delight when, a few months later, some of our neighbors put out a second play mat for free! It was in great condition, and now 75% of our balcony was soft ground for our ever-moving child.

Love this idea. Now you can tell from the second picture that, sitting in the sun, the colors fade. Also, as SourPatch got older, he started to enjoy pulling the puzzles apart more and more (meaning mom gets to put them back together). Yet for less than $15, this is one of the best ideas I have gleaned from other mothers. It makes porch time much more comfortable and fun for both of us. Thanks again, Katy!

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