Twinning: I Thought I Could Get Away With Not Baby Proofing My House
Having twins can be the most amazing experience of your life. It can also cause you to wake up in the morning wishing you were someone else. Twinning offers an honest depiction of life with twins from a mom who tries to keep things somewhere in the middle.
Shortly after my twins were born, I went to a twin mom’s club meeting held at the home of a member who had twin toddlers. I couldn’t believe how elegant and sophisticated her house was—white loveseats in front of a fireplace, a marble table topped with an enormous plant, a staircase that wasn’t flanked with baby gates. It was hard to imagine that even one child lived there. I had to ask her how she kept her house looking so beautiful with twins running around and she said, “Oh I just try to keep them out of this room and when they’re in here, it’s just a lot of ‘No touch! No touch!’”
That was it? “No touch?” and you could have a house that didn’t look like a Gymboree inside? Well I was certainly willing to try.
I had finally finished decorating my house a year before I got pregnant, and after it took me forever to find a small Chippendale coffee table that matched our Chippendale sofa, I dreaded hauling it off to the attic. Practically all the décor in my house—from antiques with chipped paint (probably teeming with lead) to collections of antique bottles—was far from child-friendly, and I liked it that way.
As someone new to parenting, I still had a bit of disdain for all the primary-colored plastic that seemed to dominate the homes of people with kids. I had yet to see that these things are virtual gifts from Heaven when it comes to keeping kids happy and safe and adults happy and sane. I knew very little about parenting and absolutely nothing about baby proofing.
In my naiveté, I got my husband on board with the ridiculous notion that “the kids will live in our house, and we’re not changing a thing about it!” But even before my twins were mobile, every room had been somewhat altered to adapt to our new lifestyle. Efficiency was key and I had no time for anything that required thought or upkeep. Sheets were thrown over couches, plants were left to die, and floor mats that occasionally tripped me up were tossed in the garbage.
And then my twins started crawling and then toddling, and practically overnight, my priorities changed. The coffee table I loved so much was now just something with four corners that could hurt my babies. It had taken me a year to find and in only 15 minutes, I found its replacement at Target—a puffy, pleather ottoman that the old me would have laughed at. The new me couldn’t believe how many toys could be hidden inside! Bonus!
Everything in the house was getting tipped over, chewed on and broken. I felt like I was saying “No! No touch!” eight hours a day. Scolding my twins for exploring the house they lived in made me feel terrible. This was their house too and it needed to be a safe place for them to live. I’m sure in time they would’ve become accustomed to not touching anything that wasn’t in the family room, but how awful would that be? It only took a couple of days of mobile twins before I began Operation Baby Proof.
Over a weekend my husband and I packed up all our antiques and glass bottles, plugged every electric outlet with plastic baby proof plugs, and dragged anything not baby-friendly to the attic, including the coffee table. The ultimate signal that I had given up my house for my children came when I ordered two “playzones” for my living room — enormous primary-colored plastic panels that formed an enclosure that I wouldn’t have traded for all the antiques in the world.
And as for that club member with the immaculate, sophisticated home décor? I can only imagine that she either has very sad, anxious twins, or entire closets filled with crap that she allows to spill out once all her guests have left and her twins are free to wander around their home.
You can reach this post’s author, Gloria Fallon, on twitter