Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Toddler Proofing

Somewhere around 9 months my son went from a baby that laid sleeping quietly, to a baby on the move.
It seemed like it happened in the blink of an eye.
One second he was pulling himself up and then, BAM, he was walking.

My husband and I wasted no time babyproofing.

Every outlet was covered.
Even the kitchen counter ones, just in case Jack gained super human strength and pulled himself up to the counters. Drawer pulls were installed. Gates we erected. Edges were covered.

Finally our home was a safe haven.
Or so we thought.

As the months passed and we crossed over into toddlerhood, we became painfully aware of the fact that we never made any revisions for toddler proofing.

Because they don't tell you about toddler proofing in the books. Or the Internet. Or anywhere.

So I'm here to fill you in.

Toddler proofing Rule #1: Revenge of the BabyProofing
Toddlers are curious and a lot smarter than we as parents often give them credit for.
For us, this realization came when Jack learned how to open the drawers, even though they had safety pulls installed in them. He even learned how to take the pull off. What's more he also learned that throwing the contents of the entire open drawer all over the floor was hilarious (to him, not us).
So do yourself a favor and fill those drawers and lower cabinets with toddler friendly like Tupperware or cooking spoons and spatulas.
Or- if you are sick of picking up potholders off the floor every 5 minutes- nothing at all.

Toddler proofing Rule #2: Yes, you can have nice things...once the kids are in college
Growing up, I lived in a pristine house, though I use the term "lived" loosely.
My mother believed in rooms that were better seen and not used. We were not permitted to eat in our living/family room which is an understandable rule. Not understandable- we also weren't allowed to sit on the couch. And my mother was constantly complaining about cleaning up.
I swore I would be different when I had kids and while I want to teach my children about respecting things, I also want them to have fun. And not be afraid of "living" in their house.
So here's the deal...Toddlerhood is messy.
The way I see it you have two options. Make peace with tiny handprints and mysterious stains or follow your child around with Windex and a broom.
The choice is yours.

Toddler proofing Rule #3: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
As you watch your babyproofing efforts crumble around you, you will be faced with an important decision. Either teach your child how to live in the "real world" and be safe or continue to protect the bubble they live in.
As a parent it is hard to watch your children get hurt. We babyproof because we don't want to see little fingers get slammed in doors. But as our children grow we have to teach them how to live among life's hazards. Yes, there may be some bumps and bruises along the way and yes, it will hurt (probably you more than them). So teach them how to close doors (gently) and how to go up and down the stairs (carefully).

And while your at it, it doesn't hurt to teach them how to use a paper towel to clean up spilled milk!

What have you learned about "ToddlerProofing"??