One morning, before I had kids, I was sitting in traffic on my way to the office and I noticed a Precious Baby Protectors van to my right. With much sanctimony, I declared “How lazy and utterly helpless someone must be to resort to having someone else do your babyproofing!” I mean, really.
Ask five people what you should do for babyproofing and you’ll get at least eleven opinions. Some will suggest – usually the parent of an easygoing singleton – you wait until after the baby is mobile before you make any decisions. Some will give you a personalized referral card to Precious Baby Protectors. Most will fall somewhere in the middle suggesting the minimum of sliding outlet protectors, hardware installed gate at the top of the stairs, and move all your household cleaners out of reach.
Had we had two like our daughter Harper, a gate at the top of the stairs would have been plenty sufficient to date. Instead, we also got a Mateo. A Mateo, who will wedge himself – and get stuck – between the sofa and the subwoofer, who started pulling ovens open at 9 months, managed to lock Jennifer’s cell phone, loves his blackberry, and incredulously dragged my camera from the center of the dining table, shattering the lens. I’m now wishing we would have purchased and installed that blackout screen for the fireplace instead of resorting to a bookshelf.
THE BLACKOUT SCREEN SUGGESTED TO US BY PRECIOUS BABY PROTECTORS. Yeah, that’s right. It was a weak moment sandwiched between too-much-to-do-and-too-little-time. But holy crap did it accomplish in two hours with three professionals what it would have taken two working parents weeks to do. My opinion of people who stash junk instead of cars in their garages has turned favorable, too. Chalking it up to another moment of parenting-induced compassion. Crow tastes good, yum.
We’re not out there buying Bumper Bonnets and baby knee pads, and we don’t assign the kids the task of sharpening our knives. While we did protect from the big dangers, unless you want your kid(s) to live in a bubble (and I’m horrified at how many parents do!), bumps and falls and bruises are inevitable. And, dare I say, healthy – on account of giving the kid(s) an opportunity to work out the kinks and find their mixture of gross motor development, spatial relations, and gravity.
It’s when we go to someone else’s home – where there are almost no protections from harm – that we go reeling, or at least a lot of redirecting toddlers and hardly any sitting Not. For. Even. One. Minute. It took a good six months to convince my mom to put her ten-picture-frames-on-the-hearth out of reach of her four grandchildren under 12 months old because no, grandma, they will not ‘just learn’, not without injury.
My suggestion? Go on as many non-babyproofed vacations before the kids are proficient crawlers, such as the relatively relaxing trip we took to New Orleans when the kids were nine months old. Once they’re pulling up, all bets are off.
Someone actually said “if you stay at a hotel, sometimes they’ll loan out outlet protectors.” Hello? Have you met Mateo? Plus, I can’t imagine how the kids would ever fall asleep while we’re still awake and moving around the room. Because, Harper? Sensitive sleeper.
After last weekend’s trip to a friend’s lakehouse, we’ve concluded that we’re holding off on overnight stay “vacations” until we’re feeling braver or the kids are closer to two. WHICH EVER COMES LAST. Fifteen months just isn’t the time for us.
What about you? Did you put a moratorium on overnight stay Vacations? (visits to family don’t count – we’re kind of obligated, after all) Recognizing that travel with children is never total leisure, when did you feel you could travel again and not be moving Every. Single. Moment?