With the novel coronavirus forcing families to remain cooped up—often in too-small spaces—parents are pining for more privacy. Well, guess what? Your kids may be dying to get away from you, too.
“Since adults and older kids have taken over home offices, kitchen tables, and living rooms, younger children often feel like they don’t have a space to call their own,” says Julie Muniz, a curator who specializes in 20th- and 21st-century art and design.
One solution that’s catching on? Forts, tents, teepees, and other cute shelters that can double as mini man caves for the grade school set. Not only can kids find some peace and privacy in such spots, but having their own space offers more subtle benefits, too.
“A special spot for kids to hide in can foster creativity, allow them to become independent thinkers, and enjoy a sense of ownership in their personal space,” says Kami Kincaid, an architect at Perkins & Will and herself the mom of two.
In fact, the architects at Kincaid’s firm came up with a design for a collapse-proof DIY blanket fort to help family members tune one another out during the COVID-19 crisis. And even Ikea has embraced fort building: The Swedish home furnishings giant recently released sketches and instructions for six adorable DIY forts you can try at home.
And if you’re up for buying rather than building a fort, plenty of options abound. Here are some cool options to consider, as well as more detailed DIY fort-building instructions you can try right now.
This cotton teepee can be set up in the playroom or the backyard, and comes with four poles for a sturdy structure. Plus there’s a window and a roll-down shade to peek out at the grown-ups ($52, Wayfair).
This square cotton tent comes with adorable cactus detailing and its own mailbox—perfect for secret notes to be passed back and forth from the outside world ($170, Crate & Barrel).
This cute tent takes less than five minutes to build, and it collapses just as quickly so you can stow it away in a snap. Made from spot-clean polyester with a sweet ruffle along the top, this circus-style fort is a sweet spot for silent reading, drawing, and endless daydreaming ($49, Macy’s).
Wee ones will thrill to a brightly colored tent-and-tunnel combo, especially this choice with separate ends so each tot has her own play area. Kids can traverse the tunnel from the teepee to the square and then back again in this smart pick made from BPA- and phthalate-free material ($45, Amazon).
Fire engine fort
Fire truck toys and EMT costumes are a big part of childhood, so make your kid’s dream come true with his own red vehicle. This option features windows and a door, plus pictures of all the gear you’d expect on a real rescue truck, including an ax, shovel, ladders, and hose reels. And you’ll feel good about this purchase since the pigments and dyes are water-based and nontoxic ($107, Wayfair).
Hours of fun can be had with a blank canvas like this one. Astronauts-to-be can climb aboard, decorate their paper vessel, and then blast off into outer space, returning just in time for dinner ($36, Amazon).
Army battles can be waged safely from this lightweight igloo-style tent that comes in its own travel bag for easy transport. A mesh window allows air to flow, and the fact that it’s no-assembly means kids can pop it open themselves ($55, Target).
DIY fort from bedsheets
Want to save some bucks and use what you already have for a kids’ hideout? Turn to your linen closet.
“Take a rope and secure so it spans one side of the room to the other, and then place a sheet over it for an instant fort,” says Kincaid. You can widen this fort by securing chairs to the outstretched middle section of the sheet.
Or erect the same type of hideaway in the yard with a rope tied between two trees that’s draped with blankets, says Karen Gray-Plaisted of Design Solutions KGP. And when kids get older, they can move to real camping tents in the backyard, she adds.
DIY cardboard fort
Remember the forts we used to build out of huge cardboard delivery boxes? Check your recycle bin for any sizable containers.
“Cardboard is always an easy option, because with some packing tape, markers, and imagination, you can create a castle or a boat or anything else your kids like,” says Kincaid.
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