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You’ve sat down, you’ve spoken about it and you’ve made the decision. You’re ready to start a family. You’ve taken into account every factor, work, finances and childcare. You are all over it.
So sit a while, take a good look around your Instagram perfect house with light sofa and white walls. Now say goodbye, it’s time to think about changing your house design. Family life is so different to living on your own, or in a couple, and if you can, preparing for this change in dynamics at home before the baby comes along and takes up most of your time, is really the only way it’s going to get done.
When we live as a couple, our priorities at home are very different to the ones we have when we become parents. Home is somewhere to socialise, to enjoy spending romantic time with each other, to cook, drink wine, watch box sets. It’s your space full of beautiful things that fit in with your own personal style. When you become a parent, safety, practicality, durability and convenience become way more important than anything else.
It’s the move from pretty heels to sensible flats.
Everything changes in an amazing way, but, your home becomes a very different place. If you can take your time redesigning in a way that suits your needs as a family, whilst also keeping your home looking and feeling great, then that is a really good idea, because you’ll be struggling with that kind of time and space for at least 18 years after the baby is born.
Here are 5 key ways to turn your home into the perfect family home ahead of baby’s arrival:
Once you have children cleaning is like raking leaves in a hurricane. Babies may be small but they make a lot of mess. Snot, sick, poop, they’re a messy joy and it only gets worse as they get older so before they come along and decorate their house in their own chocolatey design scheme, it is time to get your house easy-clean. Consider the following:
- Consider placing easy clean non-slip non-trip rugs around and about, in different rooms so you can literally chuck them in the wash if there is a spillage, protecting your flooring underneath.
- Have floor tiles wherever you can, because you can literally wipe them clean. Make sure they are non-slip and use a rug to make them softer under foot if you need to.
- Take all ornaments within medium-sized dog height out of the way (which covers baby to toddler height children). As soon as your baby begins to move around on its own, any ornaments will be kaput. Just put them in a much higher place, or move them on.
- Get rubber bottomed mats to place on top of furniture you might use to put things like bottles, used nappies and other items on. That way, any spillages can be easily cleaned from the mat, rather than damaging the furniture.
- Have lots of baby wipes on hand, everywhere. They clean a lot more than a babies bum, trust me.
Storage suddenly becomes the world’s most important thing when you have a baby. OMG where did all this stuff come from! Before you drown beneath a sea of nappies and baby clothes, start getting real Swedish about your storage. Be innovative and literally look at every space as a potential way to store things. You can never, ever go overboard with storage when it comes to having a baby.
Safety is your number one priority when you have a baby, because you naturally want to do all you can and more to keep that bundle of joy safe. Prepare for the fear because once you REALLY start looking for dangers to baby, the house that looked warm and inviting to your childless eyes now resembles a Health & Safety house of horrors. Nothing is safe and everything has the potential to do harm. On the positive side though, you’re going to baby-proof it so there’s no need to worry. General safety tips include:
- Ensuring anything that a baby might grab and put in its mouth is well locked away and secure, or out of reach
- Ensuring anything that a baby might kick or move that could fall on him, is well locked away and secure, or out of reach
- Ensuring nappy bags, plastic bags and anything plastic is out of reach of the child
- Ensuring any banisters with gaps wider than 2.5 inches are boarded or netted
- Ensuring anything with cords, rope or string is well away from a child’s grasp
- Move low furniture well away from windows, or anything hazardous to the child
- Ensure all cleaning products and chemicals are well out of a child’s reach
- Get locks on all cupboards and fold down appliances, especially in the kitchen
These are just a few basic rules. You can find more detailed home safety suggestions for children on the NHS website, or on the ROSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) website
If you have pets already prepare for mayhem. Pets are a bit of a hazard when it comes to little babies, and should definitely be supervised at all times. In an open plan property, or a property with walk-through rooms it can be very difficult to keep pets out. A well behaved dog might stay put in the kitchen, or stay behind a baby-gate if he is small enough, however, cats just do not care. Cats will just jump over the gate and waft wherever they choose. So, why not consider investing in a folding screen, or a bifold door internally, that will ensure you can keep the pet away from the babies area. You might also want to consider bifolding doors externally as well, as they are perfect for quickly letting animals and children (when they are older) inside and outside, whilst also letting in lots of light in. Ideal for promoting easy garden access for growing children wanting to burn off some energy.
Lighting is so important when you have a baby, and toddlers that nap. No one wants to be up with the birds every day of the Summer. You need to be able to turn a bright, beautiful room into a shaded, peaceful room at a moment’s notice. For that reason, blinds are an ideal addition to every room. Just make sure that you follow guidelines for blind and shutter safety from the BBSA (British Blind and Shutter Association), which you can read about more here. In the evening, dimmer switches and pretty lamps that make shadows on the ceiling and walls are a great idea for baby-friendly ambience.
Hopefully, these tips will help you turn your home into a practical, family home before baby arrives. Just remember, time and effort spent now is well worth it to make things that bit easier when you do become a family in the near future. And you can always start making it beautiful again in 18 years.