Let me just put this out there: Jack was a lot easier to deal with when he couldn’t move around. I could just plop him on a blanket, he’d sit there and play, life was good. Now he is so inquisitive and into everything and I feel like I’m on constant suicide watch. Saving him from himself is exhausting.
Alas, I just cannot bring myself to surrender quietly to turning my home into a totally babyfied environment. Grownups still live here and, actually, we pay the bills, so the place should be attractive and functional for us as well. Necessity + limitations breed creativity and I’ve spent the last several months coming up with creative ways to make our home safe and comfortable for all ages. Exhibit A: cords. Maybe all toddlers are into cords, maybe it’s just my kid, but it’s a problem. He wants to chew on them, wrap them around his neck, etc. I try to hide as many as I can behind furniture or whatever but the lamp and baby monitor in his room were really giving me a run for my money. I was so proud of myself when I came up with this solution. First, I stuck the monitor to the wall behind his crib with a command strip. He can’t reach it unless we move the crib and it can be easily removed and replaced to bring with us when we travel out of town. Next I used painter’s tape to secure the cords to the wall. Stay with me here.
This is where the magic happens. I painted over the cords and tape with leftover paint from the walls. Jack’s no dummy and I’m sure he could spot these cords if he was really looking and of course he could go all toddler-hulk and rip them off the walls, but my suspicion that out of sight = out of mind seems to be holding true so far. Making the cords less obvious was all it took to make him forget about them.
Next problem: old doors don’t close. Before Jack became so obsessed with toilets I used to lock him in the bathroom with me so I could shower. The only problem was that the door in our master bath not only doesn’t lock, but actually doesn’t even latch closed. So I installed a hook and screw eye on the door. I’ve since used this technique on several doors I needed to toddler-proof, like the closet where we store all of our tools and clutter. I have one on the tiny door to our attic as well but it’s within his reach and he’s figured it out.
I’ve posted about this shelf before but it bears mentioning again. I put a big basket on the bottom shelf full of Jack’s toys and honestly he hasn’t messed with anything else on the shelf since, but just to be safe the second and third shelves are full of books (obviously unbreakable) and items stuck down with museum putty. I was so excited when I discovered this stuff. I use it to secure lamps, whatnots, etc. so that cats and babies can’t knock them down. Works like a charm.
Last but not least, the baby gate. Ugh, I was so hoping to avoid them altogether but reality had other plans. Jack can and will scale those stairs at any available opportunity so they must be barricaded during all waking hours. I was happy to at least find one that was both inexpensive and on the attractive end of things. And it’s made of sustainable materials so I can pat myself on the back for that. (if you’re in the market for baby gates this is the one we own and love).
Jack is also really into the dog’s food and water bowls. It took me weeks to figure out how to keep him away from them without blocking the dog as well, but finally I got the idea to just mount the baby gate a foot or so off the ground. Jack probably could crawl under but he doesn’t know it and I plan to keep it that way. I used to just block him out of the laundry room behind the kitchen (where we keep the dog bowls, cat litter box, etc.) but I recently started blocking him from the kitchen after he learned how to turn on the gas stove knobs and it’s a brave new world. It’s so much easier to cook without a toddler underfoot.
I was talking to my friend Cassie the other night about how our babies have changed our lives and she repeated something she’d heard from someone else; to paraphrase: they’re not just an add-on. The entire landscape of our lives shifts to accommodate them. And for Nick and me negotiating the new normal in a post-Jack world has been fascinating, exciting, painful, frustrating, and unexpected in so many ways. We’ve had to figure out everything from how we spend our free time to who changes diapers on the weekends to a daily routine that keeps everybody fed, clean, and happy. Is having a cute house the most important thing in the world? Obviously not. But it helps me keep a little bit of my identity in a world that’s dominated by sippy cups and snack times.
Do y’all have any tips for keeping some semblance of sanity in a home with small children? My number one tip is to get a dog–Juliet happily cleans up every crumb that falls to the ground. And my newest thing is to sing the clean up song while picking up Jack’s toys before naps and bedtime. I notice that he is actually more interested in them when they’re not all sitting out all the time and I’m hoping that as he gets older he’ll start joining in with putting them away.