By Sean Carpenter

Okay, I’ll admit it. I loved being a couch potato as a kid. Sure, I was as active as the next kid but I looked forward to summer days, Saturday mornings or that time after school to get comfy on the couch and watch TV. I remember watching The Brady Bunch, Sigmund & the Sea Monster, Zoom and The Electric Company. It was The Super Friends and Hong Kong Phooey on Saturdays that made us get up early. Watching the ABC College Football Game of the Week with my Dad was a fond memory. So was getting to stay up and watch the opening kickoff on Monday Night Football or see the first inning on Monday Night Baseball. (Hey Gen Y – there was a time when every single game wasn’t on television. 4 channels greatly limited your choices)

alb 150x150 Heres to Family RoomsFat Albert & Scooby Doo, Where Are You?

Maybe its maturity or just finding new interests to focus on but I just can’t watch all of these new “tween-ager” shows with my kids and pretend to enjoy them like I did back in the day. I’m not talking about the classics like Looney Tunes or Leave It to Beaver because I could still watch those all day long. I’m talking about the shows on The Disney Channel or Nickelodeon with the annoying characters and unrealistic storylines that don’t capture my imagination or my attention.

Wizards of Waverly Place? Seriously? Good Luck Charlie means bad luck for parents. The Suite Life of Zack and Cody? No thanks, I’ll take it unsweetened.

And how about the show called A.N.T. Farm? Please. More like CAN’T Farm, as in I just can’t watch this any longer!

Television sure has changed a lot from one generation to the next. In most people’s homes, the “family room” and more specifically, the couch, is the headquarters for everything because that’s where the family television was located.

Sure the sofa was where many of us dreamed of becoming an actor or actress, perhaps being the next star on CHiPs or Facts of Life. It was also the place where we got to learn what a great armchair quarterback our father was as he screamed and yelled at Howard Cosell and Don Meredith. But that family room sofa wasn’t just a great place to watch television. It was the hub of some of the greatest pillow forts ever created and may be responsible for some of the world’s greatest architects.

Picture11 300x197 Heres to Family RoomsPillows, Couch Cushions & Blankets

How did you build yours? I liked to use the cushions from the sofa to build the exterior walls then drape blankets or sheets ripped from my brothers’ beds for the roof.

If you could connect the roof to the coffee table that allowed for additional  entrance ways or even separate parts of the fort, ideal for little brothers or neighborhood friends to crawl to. If you had enough blankets, you could even have multiple levels, using the now bare sofa springs for your “loft.” We even used to have a special doorway for the family dog to come in. Seriously, once you brought your after school snack of potato chips or cookies in there, the family dog was going to find a way in anyway, right?

If you got really creative you could design the fort so it included the television and then watch your favorite shows from under the cover of your architectural masterpiece.

We built forts in our bedroom, our living room, our dining room, our family room and our basement. I think the only room that was truly off limits was our kitchen (but that old linoleum floor wouldn’t have been too comfortable on the knees anyway, right?)

Picture2 Heres to Family RoomsSo while we may not watch the same television shows or listen to the same music, there is no age neutralizer like building a pillow fort with your kids. Although we may not be as small as we used to be and cannot fit under the end tables, we have some “local knowledge” that helps make better decisions such as securing the blankets to the bookshelves or coffee tables using large books instead of expensive lamps or one of Mom’s glass decorative bowls.

So grab your flashlights and walkie-talkies, pop some popcorn and challenge your kids to help you build the biggest, baddest pillow fort you can this weekend. It’ll not only bring back some great memories for you, it’s sure to create some new ones for them.

After all, isn’t that what home is all about?


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Sean Carpenter is the Director of Agent Development for Coldwell Banker West Shell. He and his wife have two children and live in Columbus, OH. You can find him on twitter at @SeanCarp.