living with young children

the period between the arrival of our first child and the point at which all of our offspring are in school full days is a wonderful, exhausting, magical, overwhelming time.  it is the period that many of us give up on our homes-- we are surrounded by baby paraphernalia, brightly colored toys, tiny tee-shirts and tiny mis-matched socks-- and it feels, when we are in it, like this period is going to last forever.

my thoughts--

aside from the part where i might suggest that we not buy so much stuff (for ourselves and for each other) that is geared towards babies and young children-- an obvious suggestion that you don't need me to make-- there is also the part where we can talk about specific organizing and decorating ideas.  the things that will save you from feeling like your house is totally co-opted by those intense little people:

* make rooms do double duty.  children, for the most part, want to be where their parents are.  make that possible by making the dining room (which may also be the office) also work as a play-room.  keep   a bottom drawer in the kitchen full of tupperware that you are okay with your toddler taking out and stacking while you make dinner.    

 * big baskets in the main living area of your home-- enough of them to hold the blocks, train set, stuffed toys-- whatever needs to be kept in the main living area of the home but which also needs to be put away at regular intervals throughout the day (and especially at night so the space can become grown-up space once again).

* toddler-height shelves in bedrooms make a place to put everything-- but in a form that young children can easily reach and do for themselves.  children love routine and being able to 'do it myself'.  give them the tools!

* allow your own style to shine in your home even if you feel surrounded by kid-stuff.  choose paint colors that you love.  buy furniture that feels 'right' even if your kids climb all over it with butter-smeared fingers.  maybe a washable slip-cover?  accept that there are going to be things that will not last through your children's early years-- but live with things you love.  it is your home, after all, and it needs to feel good to you.

* remember that actually this time of life only lasts a few short years.  if you are really losing it-- repeat the mantra 'this too shall pass'.  it really, truly will.  i promise.

every child is different and what will work for one child will not work for another.  try various things until you find what works best for your family.


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