RE: questions about kids' space in common house
From: Rob Sandelin (Exchange) (
Date: Mon, 29 Jul 1996 18:46:22 -0500
Our kids room is small, 14X14, there is a basement room attached which
is 12x12 which will someday belong to the kids as well.  Our kids space
is directly adjacent to the kitchen, and there is a window where you can
look down into the kids room from the kitchen. I say down, because our
kids space is four feet below the main floor level. We did this to
reduce the noise.  We did not put any plumbing in the kids space, it did
not seem appropriate. There are grandiose plans for a climbing, reading
loft, but thats in the future. As it is now, there is very little in the
kids room beyond books and some dress up clothes and blocks.  There is a
kids committee which has all sorts of plans but has accomplished not
much yet about fixing up the kids space.

The kids segragate themselves by age when they want to, play together
when they want to. Our playground is being moved someday to be right
outside the playroom and this will be a nice addition as there is an
outside door on the kids room.

We do not have a dedicated teen space at this time, and I doubt we ever
will. Kids use the playroom by themselves, with no adult supervision
(The bigger little kids tend to shepard the smaller little kids)
although parents of toddlers tend to stay clued in to their toddlers
whereabouts. Once kids get to be about 3, they roam pretty freely.

In general our kids are active and noisy and this is a source of
irritation for a few folks, although in general they get herded to the
kids area or outside if they are being rowdy in the eating area.  From
my perspective, if I were to do it differently I would set it up so one
adult each night is on kid patrol, and that task is to engage the kids
in some interesting activity.  The kids are pretty much totally ignored
and left to their own devices during dinners, as the adults, including
all the parents, hang out and want to eat and socialize.  If the kids
just had someone to read them a story or engage them in an art project,
they would be MUCH quieter and I think somewhat happier too.  

As a parent I find the competition for my kids attention at dinners to
be frustrating at times. The kids have little interest in eating, they
want to go play, and so they eat two bites, and want to be excused. Its
a battle to get a plate of food eaten, and of course, the minute dinner
is over and all the other kids have gone home, they come back....But I
didn't get any Dinner.... and so it goes.  

Rob Sandelin

>-----Original Message-----
Sent:           Monday, July 29, 1996 3:50 PM
Subject:        questions about kids' space in common house
Hi all,

I'm another voice from Cambridge Cohousing, only a lurker to date, but
looking for some information and advice today.  We're working on the
of our common house and I'd love to hear from folks about the kinds of
children's space you have in your common house, and how it's worked.

Do you have a space designed primarily for toddlers and preschoolers,
school-age kids, or teenagers?  Do you have separate spaces for
different age
groups?  Do the different aged kids mingle much?  Do you use the
space(s) for
formal childcare arrangements, playgroups, or just casual play while in
common house?  Can/do kids go the area by themselves, or only when
accompanied by parents?

Is the space adjacent to the dining room and/or kitchen or farther away?
it's near, do parents find closeness to the dining room/kitchen useful
eating or cooking?  Does the community as a whole find the children's
disruptive during meals?

What features (sink, reading area, indoor climber, etc.) in your
area are most used/most unused?

If you had it to do again, what would you do the same?  differently?

We will probably end up with about 20 - 25 kids, from 40 households.
kids currently range from 1 - 12 years old.  As you can see, we have
lots of
households that *don't* have children, typically older singles or
  We need to create a design that families with children will find
and useful, while ensuring that households without children don't feel
that the common house is dominated by children.

Thanks in advance for your input.  I know we'll find it very valuable!
- Cindy Carpenter
ccarpent [at] 

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