So many new moms and dads spend countless hours locking things, hiding things, putting things out of reach, and then stressing about going anywhere where the same level of “baby-proofing” hasn’t occurred.
Long ago, I realized there was a better way!
Rather than baby-proofing our house, we house-proof our baby!
It’s really a rather simple concept and one that was practiced by nearly all parents prior to the last generation or two. Here’s what it looks like in our home:
1. Be smart about the really toxic stuff. We do lock one cabinet under the sink with this type of lock.
Otherwise, the really bad stuff (which we really don’t have that much of) is kept up on high shelves in rather unused areas of the house.
2. Don’t lock up everything. You will spend an eternity locking up everything that poses a problem. For instance, my toddler (shown above) spent about a month trying out all the little shampoo samples that are kept under the sink in the bathroom. He would mix and match all over the floor. However, if I chose to lock up every little thing that toddler dreamed up to get into, I’d have nothing left in the house.
3. Train, train, train. This means saying no…and meaning no.
Back to the shampoo calamity…
In the beginning, I wasn’t firm (thus the reason he managed to get away with it for a month!) However, once I realized he didn’t believe my “no,” I became much more dedicated and the dumping stopped almost immediately. How did I do it? Every time I found shampoo dumped out, I called in the 2 year old, showed him the mess, gave him a firm no and set about having HIM clean it up. He didn’t like cleaning it up and quickly realized his messes were going to haunt him.
4. Raise your expectations, lower your stress. Sounds a bit contradictory, doesn’t it? However, if you are willing to really take the time to train your children to leave things alone, you can raise your expectations and lower your stress at the same time.
For instance, I expect my children to not play in the houseplants that are on the floor. Therefore, the very first time I catch a child messing with the plants, I am right there with that firm no and a removal of their hand.
And then we stand there.
If they try again, same thing. Eventually, they realize there is no way they are going to get by with touching that plant and they walk away. Sometimes they have a relapse, but the result is always the same. They quickly tire of not getting to do what they want to do and move on.
5. Be consistent in your home and out of your home. The rules need to be the same so that when you are guests in another home, your children know what to expect. And kids get confused easily. If you don’t allow jumping on beds in your home, but your friend Susie does and even encourages your children to join the jump fest, you may soon find your children in your own back bedroom using the bed as a trampoline.
If you are going to allow the rules to change, you better make sure you:
1) Have no toddlers – they just do not get the concept of different rules for different places
2) Debrief the children every single time the rules change – because no one of any age really gets the concept of different rules for different places.
There you have it! A house-proofed baby who can go anywhere with you! And that’s really the goal, isn’t it? A family that can go places together!