It has been over a year now that I have started watching my nephew in our home part time and having him here has shaped so much of how I run our home. It was like a slow gentle nudge as I figured it all out and I can say I am very thankful to have gone through it slowly with him. I am sure I will be a more patient and gracious parent because of it.
I like to think I am in an ideal situation. I get a taste of what it is like to have a child in the home a couple of days a week yet I do not have him day in and day out so having my pretty things and organized home is still of great importance to me.
So today I am going to tell you that you can have a balance. You don't have to totally baby proof your house but you should also let your kids climb around on your white furniture.
The only baby proofing we did for my nephew was covering up electrical outlets. Besides that I am aware enough to keep an eye on him when he gets into other things. But I also give a lot of credit to my former educator mentality. When auntie say no, she means no. 90% of the time he follows the boundaries that have been set before him.
The biggest change was realizing that my home did not function as efficiently as it could with a baby now in the house. Rooms were not used as much as they could be and ultimately I wanted space to be able to play and roll around on the floor. Because those were the moments where we connected.
Related, yet unrelated, this has also fit well into minimizing the clutter around the house. Having less stuff for him to get into is just as wonderful as not spending all of my time when I wasn't with him organizing and reorganizing all that stuff. We both benefit at having less.
As for toys and playing, I have a basket of toys in our dining room where the majority of the toys are stored. I spend most of my day in the kitchen and dining room so having a basket tucked behind our couch makes for easily accessible toys.
I have a few smaller baskets in our living room and in my craft room for him to play with when I am doing something in one of these rooms. They are not a lot of toys but the fact that they are different from his usual basket keeps him entertained for awhile. I cycle out his toys and store another basket of toys in the closet of ones he has lost interest in. It is amazing how exciting it is to find one of his "baby" toys after not seeing it for months.
Besides playing with toys we spend a lot of time in our front and back yard playing and watering plants. We also try to get outdoors for a walk, hike, or bike ride as much as possible. Besides this we occasionally paint and he sometimes helps me bake. We try to keep it simple and he seems to be entertained when I have a balance of giving him the attention he needs with getting other things done for myself. He is neither neglected or given all of my attention all day. It seems to be a healthy balance for us.
As for keeping things clean, my nephew is allowed to eat whenever but if it is messy he is required to sit in his high chair. I don't mind vacuuming up crumbs but I don't like banana smeared on the couch. I usually take his shoes off when we come in the house and we take off extremely dirty clothes as soon as possible.
Though despite all of this there are big messes and spills that are inevitable but for the most part with boundaries and a little bit of grace we find a happy medium where auntie and nephew can get along.
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