Most of Europe is living in flats, according to Eurostat Statistics Explained. England however, has fallen behind in this statistic with only a quarter of its residence living in this type of dwelling.
Although living in a flat can be challenging in terms of space and logistics, the experience can be more socially rewarding (not to mention easier on the bank account). This is especially true for families with young children.
Here are five hacks to get the best out of living in a flat with kids.
If you have found the flat of your dreams in the perfect location with the perfect view, a lift is not a necessity, but rather a luxury. In fact even with a lift, opting to use the stairs has obvious health benefits. And if you have young children, getting them used to walking up stairs is a good habit to instill from an early age. Leave the pram downstairs and locked away safely and use the stairs as an opportunity for games - count the steps to the front door, challenge your children to climb slowly or quickly, and even sing a chant or a song to the beat of your footsteps.
I often tape a checklist on the back of the front door with items I don’t want to forget. Living in a flat means you can’t nip in to pick up the book bag you’ve forgotten on the kitchen counter. It means opening the door to the block with a fob or keypad, waiting for the lift, walking down a corridor to your flat, opening your front door, getting the item you’ve forgotten and then repeating the steps backwards. To ensure you’ve got everything, a visual checklist can remind you of the essentials to take with you and will save you the trip back upstairs.
Flat layouts tend to be more open in order to make the limited space feel bigger. This can sometimes have the opposite effect though, if your living space serves as a dining room, a playroom, and a music room at the same time. To really maximise your space, divide it with unobtrusive furniture such as a low bookshelf or a simple bench with plants on top. This way your living space will be parted in an efficient way, allowing you to have separate areas serving separate functions.
Unlike living in a house, getting things in to your home requires a bit more effort and logistics. When living in a flat with children, make use of your pram - and not just for carrying them. With the right pram, a big basket compartment underneath, and sturdy handles means you can ensure a hands free grand entrance at home almost every time. And my top tip - always have a couple of pram hooks on the pram for unexpected extra items. This means you can carry the children, their school bags, ingredients for dinner, coats, books, and toys in the pram, and even have extra space for PE bags and other bits on the hooks.
When living in a flat, your neighbours are close and can become part of a supportive and helpful community. Getting to know them is an opportunity for extra help and it also means having friends nearby. A nice way to break the ice is to prepare a little note and slip it under the door of the flats on your floor. Introduce yourself and your family. For those who are more socially daring, you could even knock on a few doors and introduce yourself with a box of biscuits. Living in a block of flats means you are already part of a community. Once you’ve had a conversation with a couple of neighbours, you could start a Whatsapp group and notify each other if you’re taking the dog out, or even just heading to the playground with the kids. This is a great way to make new local friends and have a support network if you’re in need of a pet sitter, a hand with a broken pipe, or even just a bag of flour.
Living in a flat with children can seem daunting at first, but with a bit of preparation (and a good pram!), you’ll be able to enjoy your home in new ways whilst being part of a unique community.
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