Baby-Proofing Is A Waste Of Time
I fully cop to being a nervous mom. I carry a first-aid kit in my bag, I have the number to poison control committed to memory and my family always wears sunscreen. I am also a sucker for advertising, so when I was pregnant and creating a registry, seeing aisle upon aisle filled with child-proofing products was very reassuring. There were tons of gadgets designed by experts to help me handle the seemingly impossible task of keeping miniature humans alive. I bought them all and thought I could relax, but now that my kids are mobile I’m learning baby-proofing is an exercise in futility.
Most baby-proofing products are made of light-weight plastic, easily manipulated by tiny hands. Those outlet covers I painstakingly placed in every room of the house? They are literally child’s play, since it took the boys approximately 2.3 seconds to figure out how how to pull them out of the wall. To add insult to injury, they treated the outlet covers like pacifiers. Not only I had done nothing to fix the whole electrocution risk issue, I had sprinkled choking hazards all over the house.
Baby-proofing solutions are designed to be temporary, which is code for “highly likely to break or fall apart when you still need it.” We have a baby gate in the kitchen that my husband initially installed according to manufacturer’s directions by wedging it against the door jam. That thing didn’t stand a change against two twenty pound toddlers demanding milk.
After weeks of pulling kids out of the refrigerator and a very scary afternoon where the gas stove was turned on accidentally, we decided resale value of the house be damned and drilled the gate into the kitchen wall.
The best luck we’ve had with keeping them out of things has been with unconventional solutions. This means my lamps are tied to other furniture with old exercise tubing and all of the closets and drawers are sealed shut with duct tape, but I am willing to sacrifice being featured in Better Homes & Gardens if it means keeping the kids alive.
I don’t want to be a helicopter parent, but it feels like I can’t turn my back for a second before I hear a loud crash and that specific wail which accompanies a real injury.
The places in the house where I can safety stash them while I go pee is forever shrinking. A giant canvas print hanging high on the wall went from tasteful decor to deathtrap overnight once they learned how to jump up and down on the couch and knock it over. A lock on the glassware cabinet was disabled faster than the cast of Ocean’s Eleven can access a safe. Sometimes they even use the childproofing equipment as tools to aid in their mischief- the open net design on a baby fence acts as the perfect foothold to gain access to the office and its bucket full of Sharpies.
I’ve learned that trying to keep children from getting into dangerous situations in your home is like trying to prevent a Taylor Swift single from topping the charts- no matter how annoying it is or how frustrated it makes you, you can only slow it down, you can’t stop it from happening. In the future I will take the money I save on baby-proofing gear and use it to buy wine for my off-duty hours.