Growing up, my Mother was the queen of guilt (I love you, Mom). She knew exactly how to arrange her words into heart-wrenching comments that left us feeling very sorry. I never fully understood her frustration and sadness until my own children began terrorizing, I mean walking. Every piece of furniture, every candle, knickknack, picture, wall hanging, decorative pillow, rug, blind, window, mirror and wall was left wide open to their curious, yet destructive devices. From giant gouges in my coffee table and broken window blinds to stained couches and artwork on the walls, my home was quickly turning into a canvas of chaos.
Did I mention the fingerprints? What’s worse is that as soon as I would fix one mess another would pop up right behind it, creating a losing battle. I was outnumbered 2 to 1, after all. At one point I considered covering our living room wall with a crayon mural. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Right?
RIGHT! So I raised my white flag and waved it with a new sense of exhilaration. You see, this is where my sweet, perfectionist Mum went wrong. She fought every bit of disruption with all her might and let me tell you, she was tired. I’m lucky enough, however, to have an edge on her. I didn’t come with the same wiring (to which she is still baffled by to this day). I can stare at a pile of clothes on the dresser for days before finding the motivation to put it away. So what in the world was I stressing over? I’m a thirty-something working Mom with two young children. Why was I expecting my home to reflect anything different?
And so it began. I asked myself for the first time, “What should the home of a thirty-something working Mom with two young children look like?” And, well, it should look… fun! It should look like laughter lives here too. It should look like you can bring your kids over and not have to reprimand them for putting their grubby little prints on something they’re not supposed to be touching. Logically, my next question was, “How do I accomplish this?”
Honestly, I am still very much in the process of answering this question. The first (and most important) step I took was to let go of the old image of “home” I had programmed into my brain. This is going to be a creation that reflects our family, our perfectly crazy family. (Really, my husband and I have contemplated changing our last name to the Crazersons.) Here are some of my ideas so far:
1) Function: Everything should serve a purpose. I don’t want a footrest unless it opens up so I can put cuddly blankets and pillows inside it to use on movie night. My lower kitchen cupboards are filled with kid-friendly storage. I keep cereal bowls here so they can help themselves to breakfast in the morning. The drawers in my bathroom are filled with tub toys and disinfectant wipes so the kids can make and clean their own messes. (That’s a bit of wishful thinking)
2) Furniture: Let’s face it. Our furniture is going to take a beating. Whether they’re spilling snacks and beverages, jumping from one chair to the other, or using a table to practice swinging their toy hammer, our furniture will never look the same. Here is where I had to change my perspective. Instead of being depressed by its’ condition I decided I should have some fun with it. I have a perfect excuse to do something funky like recover chairs with vibrant, spill-proof fabrics or paint damaged tables, dressers or chairs fresh new colors.
3) Decor: Long gone are the days of affording expensive artwork. And what I have acquired of it until this point is under the protection of lock and key. My new challenge is finding kid-friendly decorations to use on my walls, shelves and end tables. Some of the artwork they bring home from school is pretty impressive! I have one set aside to frame and place on my bookshelf. What an esteem booster for my child to have something he made displayed in a “fancy” frame!
It’s an exciting work in progress that includes our entire family. It’s fun when we can invite everyone’s opinions, even the youngsters. It truly has helped transform our apartment into our home. What ideas have you let go of or incorporated into your style to make your home kid-friendly?