Starting a family changes your world, and your house! While it might be nice to keep your living space looking more like a show home and less like a nursery, there is no denying that child-proofing your house can take a whole heap of stress off your shoulders.
In my experience, the best approach is to just go with it – install as much safety equipment as you need to ensure that your children are kept out of danger. That way, you more able to get on with the realities of daily life without worrying that they are pushing fingers into plug sockets or eating coal from the fireplace.
The trick is to invest in stylish versions of the equipment that will stay with for the longest, such as:
* Stair gates: you will need these as soon as your little ones can move around by themselves. In fact, it’s worth getting them in place beforehand, because babies can go from rolling over to crawling up the stairs faster than you can reheat your untouched cup of tea! Invest in wooden versions that gel with your décor, and you won’t be in such a hurry to get rid of them before you are ready. They are also great for keeping little ones out of the kitchen but still in eye- and earshot while you cook.
* Highchair: again, this will be with you for a while and is a great way of knowing your little one is somewhere safe while you are out of the room. You can buy wooden versions that convert to a low-level table and chair as they grow, making it an investment that can last you several years.
* Other safety equipment: get down on your hands and knees to see what hazards lurk at ground level. You might need corner pads for tables, covers for plug sockets, a fireguard or even – as in our case – a fence to block off a particularly hazardous stone hearth.
As your children grow, so will the amount of mess they can make. Don’t assume that your child won’t write on the sofa or colour in the grout on the bathroom tiles (yes, I speak from experience).
Opt for wipe-clean materials where you can (leather sofas, oil-cloth for table and seat covers, tiled/laminate/vinyl flooring, etc.), keep a stain-remover spray next to the washing machine, and ban anything other than washable felt-tip pens for the next few years. If you have permanent markers for grown-ups, keep them well hidden!
Get rid of any breakable ornaments to avoid damage and reduce the need for cleaning at the same time. Finally, keep big baskets or buckets in every room for the ultimate in speedy clearing up that even a 2-year-old can help with!
Now you are ready to enjoy your kids while they are young instead of worrying about them knocking over that antique vase. Time enough for that kind of stress when they visit someone else’s house!