Childproofing Your Home While Tidying Up

Mother carries her smiling baby.

Krista Osterthaler, mom of two young ones, shares how she has learned that cleaning and tidying her home is a great time to make sure it’s a safe environment for her kids.

I‘ve never been a particularly tidy person. One time, when we were kids my little sister dumped the cat’s litter box on my bedroom floor to get back at me for some transgression, and I didn’t notice for days because there was so much other stuff lying around. (She just loves to tell that story.) I like to think that I’ve gotten tidier with age, but any gains I made with maturity have been attenuated by my acquisition of the messiest creatures in the world – toddlers.

When my first kid was still an only child and not quite old enough to make his own messes, my house just looked “lived in.” Now? As someone in one of my Moms groups recently said, “having a two-year-old is like using a blender without the top on it.” With two kids under six we are swimming in toys, clothes, potty training stuff, books, craft projects, and supplies for the newest member of our family, a bearded dragon named Pumpkin. If my sister were to dump a cat’s litter box in my living room today, there’s a good chance that I wouldn’t notice until my 2-year-old started making snow angels in it.

About twice a year, it just gets to be too much and I do THE BIENNIAL HOUSE PURGE. During this event, I go a little nuts. I walk through every room in the house, scowl at every vertical and horizontal surface, and end up making about a dozen trips to the local thrift store donation centers and trash dump.

I’m in the middle of it now. As I get rid of the size 4T boys’ and 2T girls’ clothes and try not to give in to the temptation to keep every stained t-shirt that triggers a fond memory of my babies, I realize just how much they both have grown. I mean, just a few months ago my little girl couldn’t reach the kitchen counter, and now?

Wait a minute. Uh oh. A few months ago, she couldn’t reach the top of the washing machine where I keep the detergent, either. And now she can see all the interesting objects on my desk like the shiny scissors and stapler. Lately she loves to “help” me cook, pretend she’s Spiderman and climb everything, and play with anything I tell her not to, like remote controls. Come to think of it, I need to make sure all our medicine is up, away, and out of her sight and reach, too.

I guess now I’m going to have to make it THE BIENNIAL HOUSE PURGE & SAFETY INVENTORY!  This interactive tool has helped me get started.

Happy tidying!