Babies Need to Know Their Place in the House

baby gateWith twin baby boys on the verge of crawling, I decided to finally have a baby-proofing guy over to talk to me about making my house safe for little ones on the move. Apparently, the fact that I have twins means I'm in for some double trouble (ha, ha, ha...sigh), and I want to make sure I'm not missing any potential death traps. That's why I called in the expert.

Anyway, as we walked around the house, he started talking to me about what rooms I was going to allow my boys to have free reign of, and which would be totally off-limits. He explained to me that about half of his families give their babies access to the whole house, while the other half has designated baby-friendly rooms. Well, I'm firmly in the second camp! There's no way in hell I'm letting my babies overrun the entire house, mainly because I don't have an extra set of eyes to track the roaming twin, but also because Mama wants some grown-up space of her own.


First, let's look at this from a safety perspective. When I'm hanging out in the kitchen, say, stir-frying some vegetables in crackling oil, why, why, why would I want two little babies all pulling and tugging and crawling underfoot? Of course, they eat in the kitchen, and as of now, seem perfectly content banging toys against their highchair tray and dropping sippy cups off the side. They don't have to be at knee-level!

Not to mention the fact that it's impossible to keep every inch of my house safe for them. I mean, the hardwood floor is, well, hard and I can't keep them from falling down on it. The walls are, again, hard, and once my little guys are walking, I can't stop them from tripping on their wobbly legs and banging into them. But, some things -- like the outlets and the wires and the sharp edges and the choking hazards -- are much easier to monitor if I'm dealing with just two contained rooms. That doesn't mean they won't still hurt themselves, but the less space I have to worry about, the better.

And, let me be honest, there are just some rooms that I don't wanna mess with. Like, the living room. Do I really want to cover all of the furniture and get rid of the lamps and the photo albums and the beautiful glass vases and decorative wedding gifts until our kids are, I don't know, ten? No, no I don't. Maybe, one of these days, I'd like to start having friends over again, and maybe, just maybe I'll want a room where the furniture isn't dotted with banana mush and I'm not digging pacifiers out between sofa cushions. I wasn't allowed in our living room as a baby or toddler, and not because it was some museum-quality space, but because I was a pint-sized disaster-maker!

Still, the biggie for me is the bedroom. I know that a lot of parents co-sleep and have a family bed and all of that and I think that's great. But, we're not that kind of family. Sure, we will bring the babies into bed with us sometimes, but for the most part, our bedroom is our sanctuary.  At least for now, and hopefully for as long as we can keep it that way. At the end of a long day, this is where my husband and I reconnect, this is the room where it's just about us. And let's be honest, nothing's ever about us anymore and sometimes, it should be. Having babies has changed our lives for the better, for the SO much better, but it's hard for us to have the kind of quality time with each other that we used to have. The least we can do is try to make sure our bedroom stays a grown-up zone.

My relationship aside though, the bedroom is my place for alone time. It's where I work, it's where I read a book, it's where I take a nap. If I start letting my little guys play in there while I'm putting away laundry or taking a shower, then it starts to become their space as well and that's not what I want, for me or for them.

Babies and children need boundaries, they need their parents to set limits, they need to get used to hearing "no" because they're going to hear plenty of that once they get to preschool and beyond. It's not like I'm baby-proofing by saying, "This is Mommy and Daddy's room and you can't come in!" I'm simply setting aside space in the house that's totally safe for them, where I don't have to watch them like a hawk. That doesn't mean they won't spend time in our bedroom or in the living room, but when it happens, it will be with full supervision.

Of course, I realize that in just a couple of years, our entire house will be my children's playground, where couches will become trampolines, our dog will become a pony, and a blank wall will look like a crayon-friendly canvas. But for now, while I can still gate my little guys in, I'm going to appreciate that modern floor lamp and the Italian glass vase in my living room. I'm going to make lunch with my little guys happily banging away in their highchairs, two feet off the ground. And while my babies are napping, I'm going to retreat to my quiet, peaceful bedroom and read a magazine or watch reality TV in my own safe place.

Do you still keep some "adult" spaces in your home? Or are your babies free to play and roam in every room of your house?

Image via Elizabeth/Table4Five/Flickr

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