Yes Spaces- Why are they important?

Yes Space
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We’re thinking about babyproofing in the Bird household this week. We’ve already done all the basics- nailed furniture to the walls, put in outlet covers, put bumpers on the sharp corners, etc. Even so, as Charlie is getting more and more mobile, he seems to continually be finding new places to get into that I really wish he wouldn’t. His favorite right now is playing with the phone chargers when we forget to put the cords up- and he just figured out that the garbage can opens and shuts this morning! I guess it’s time to get our apartment back into a state of being a yes space.

What is a yes space?

A yes space is a place where kiddos can explore and check everything out without having to be redirected a million times. It is a place where there is nothing dangerous or fragile that they can get into. How babyproofed a place needs to be to fit this standard may vary from person to person. For example, because I’m around the kids more, I have a higher comfort level with different objects than Tony, who automatically assumes they’re going to choke on everything and/or poke their eyes out. I’m working to find somewhere in the middle so that he can feel comfortable when he is watching the kids but they can still have some toys out 😉 .
In the Bird Household, our yes spaces don’t have any decorations or items we care about in places where the kids can grab them. Instead, they’re filled with toys, books, stuffed animals, and other play things that the kids can get to without having to ask for help. Our spaces are not very pretty or organized, but they get the job done! We keep things like paints, Play-Doh, and some of Nora’s smaller toys higher up so that Nora can still see them, but has to ask to play with them. It’s pretty Montessori in concept though the way that we put it into practice throughout our home doesn’t quite fit that style.

Why is having a yes space important?
1) It allows a mental break from saying no

Apparently, the average one-year old hears the word “no” about 400 times a day. That’s a lot of no’s! I definitely believe it though because even Nora is starting to copy my “No, Charlie, no!” as he’s running away during diaper changes, splashing in the cats’ water dish, or pulling books on top of himself. This starts to be a drain on a child, but it also is draining for me. When our yes spaces are not set up right, I have to constantly be on the watch, making sure they don’t get into things they’re not supposed to. I have to be the “mean” parent who stops them in their tracks while they’re having fun, saying no or stop at every turn. Instead, by creating a space where they can do pretty much everything, I don’t have to focus my mental energies on what they can’t do. I can pay attention to the cute things they’re doing, read to one of them while the other plays, or actually get something productive done without worrying!

2) I can get tasks done around the house

Sometimes I have to get something done around the house. And by sometimes, I mean there’s always something I could be doing. Every so often, I can get the kids to play by themselves in one of our yes spaces and get some of these somethings done. I can take 3 minutes to throw the load of laundry over while they play in Nora’s room. They can take apart the toy kitchen while I wash the dreaded high chair tray and put away breakfast. I can sweep the floors yet again while they play in the living room with their tunnel. While I, of course, am always within hearing distance so I know they’re not killing themselves or each other, I’m not super worried about rushing through the task to be back watching them.

3) I can get a quiet time break

When Nora was 15 months, she was still an awful sleeper. Around this point, we experimented and found that we could leave her in her room and after a couple minutes of being angry, she’d play or read books in her room until she fell asleep- for her nap and bedtime! It was one of the best things that ever happened to us. Now that she’s about 50/50 on whether or not she takes a nap, we’re doing the same thing. She can hang out and play in her room for a couple hours until she falls asleep or not, and I can get my much needed quiet time. Charlie is just at the point where I can leave him in his crib to play for a bit, but no putting himself to sleep quite yet. Hopefully, he can figure that trick out soon!

4) It gives the kids a chance to explore and play on their own without needing me to set their boundaries

I think this is actually the most important point. Kids need an opportunity to learn by themselves and test boundaries without someone swooping in and figuring it out for them. I know I can be guilty of doing just this when I’m sitting right down with them. By taking the time away (or just sitting on the couch scrolling on my phone…), they are able to have that independent playtime they need so desperately to learn and to create their own stories instead of having me right there to create them for them. By having a yes space, they’re able to beebop around at their leisure and check things out without me hounding over them making sure they’re not doing something they’re not supposed to. It’s also allowing them to start their own relationship as siblings when I’m not right there coaching them how to interact.

What we’re doing to create yes spaces

We attempt to make our whole house a yes space, but that’s not totally manageable all the time (I need to find a new home for Charlie’s beloved toilet bowl brushes- yuck!) Right now, we have our living room area and Nora’s bedroom set up so that they’re definitely safe for Nora and mostly safe for Charlie. (If only he didn’t pull all of the books off the shelf onto himself…) I also have been utilizing the crib with a couple books/toys as a place to put Charlie for a short period of time to clean a poopy cloth diaper, to put away laundry without it getting pulled right back out, or even to take a really quick shower. Yes spaces I’ve seen in others’ houses are playrooms (my dream!) or a big gated off portion of a room.
I’m realizing that we need to be better about keeping all of Nora’s little pieces of toys in either a separate space or away while Charlie is awake so that they don’t become choking hazards. It also seems we have to find new places for some of our cords or at least a way to keep them up and out of the way. My philosophy on babyproofing is to babyproof as we go (after the big things like strapping furniture to the wall), and I seem to have gotten a little behind! It’s time to put locks on all the cabinets and drawers I don’t want things pulled out of and maybe even the garbage can and toilets. Whatever I can do to make our home a safe space for the kids to roam, experiment, and not hear “no” all day long will contribute to making our house a somewhat peaceful place for me and a yes space for them.

I want to know what you all do to make your homes into yes spaces! I’d love to see pictures of what you guys are doing and tips of your babyproofing methods – comment below or on Facebook, or send me a message! I look forward to seeing what you’re doing 🙂
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2 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Oh I remember those days with you three and also sometimes daycare kids! I always had safe rooms, gated off areas, and dangerous items up high or locked away, but there was always one place I wouldn’t even think was a thing until it was! You are on the right track, keep smiling mama bird 😘

    1. I bet it gets even more complicated with more kiddos roaming around! Charlie’s been VERY into the cat’s water dish the last couple days, so we need to find a new place for that now!

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