When you think about baby-proofing your house, you probably think about preventive measures to keep your baby safe: stair gates, plug socket covers and tying up loose curtain cords that could be hazardous. But how do you protect your house from your baby?!
We spoke to a mum with a lot of experience. Over the last 27 years, as a childminder and a mum, Miranda has welcomed over 30 children into her home. She knows a thing or two about preventing (and concealing) the marks left by playful little people, at the same time as keeping kids safe.
We asked Miranda for her top tips on how to make your home a safe environment for children during the day, while keeping it adult-friendly for the evenings. Here’s what she said…
There’s no use crying over spilled flowers…
I love having flowers on my table, with a pristine white tablecloth, so I can enjoy a lovely cup of tea – when I get a moment of peace and quiet! But during the week, when my house is full of kids, it’s just not practical. With three toddlers under three and a few older siblings after school, things get more than a little chaotic.
Flowers are great for kids’ education – they love to smell them while learning about them. But as we all know, accidents happen. Mishaps and mess come with the territory, but my priority is always to make sure the children are safe. So when the kids are around, I switch out my beautiful vases to plastic jugs and fill them with less water. This way, if an accident does happen, less water gets spilled, the jug isn’t as heavy, and there won’t be any broken glass.
And as you can see it still looks really pretty on my table.
The many unexpected uses of a wipe clean tablecloth
I love wipe-clean table clothes as they have so many different uses.
As a childminder, I’m always looking for new ways for kids to explore their senses through play. It’s great fun experimenting with paints, Play-Doh, bubbles and foam; however, they can make a lot of mess. Make your life easier by getting a wipe-clean table cloth and pegging the corners, so that little exploring fingers don’t find the edges of the cloth and pull everything down.
One person’s trash is another’s treasure
Another good tip is to place your wipe-clean table cloth under the table and chairs, so that any spills will be caught, and the cloth will act like a stylish waterproof sheet. Especially important if your home is carpeted.
You can also use old shower curtains to do the same job on or under the table. Plus, they’re great to pack up and bring on picnics or trips to the beach too. Save everyone from wet or sandy bottoms by laying one down on the sand or grass and placing your cushions, throws or beach towels on top.
Save your sofa: tips and tricks to limit the damage
My pet peeve is stains on my lovely cream sofa which, after a fair few years of childminding, has taken the brunt of the spills and accidents. You can see from the picture that it’s on the shabbier side now, but I do try to minimise any damage during the day, by making the children eat lunch at the table.
Milk spills do occasionally happen though, and some of the little ones have accidents during naptime, when they’re at the start of potty training – but it’s all part and parcel of the job!
When I’m buying soft furnishings, I look for the following things:
Textured or patterned throws
This helps disguise any spills (so you aren’t washing your covers every day), but some stains (like baby food) don’t come out very easily at all. With patterns you won’t need to buy new just because you have a huge and very obvious stain on your beautiful throws.
Don’t forget your arm rests!
Once you’ve covered the main body of your sofa, it’s easy to forget about the arms. But it’s the arms that see the most wear and tear. If you have a large sofa like me, you may have to buy more than one throw to make sure your arm rests are covered too. I like to buy different complementary colours for a sophisticated look.
Nappy safety pins or clothes pegs
For the younger mums out there, these are the extra strong pins I used to hold a toweling nappy together, all those years ago when my first baby was born. I use these pins to hold the throws in place around the corners of my sofa so throws stay in place, no matter who’s crawling around. You can also use clothes pegs for this.
The kids I look after love a cosy cushion – especially at naptime. So, although I always look out for patterned cushions to disguise any spills, I also make sure they’re soft and child-friendly too.
Although most of my sofa is child-friendly, I make sure I have my own little comforts that I can add to the sofa in the evening. For me, there are my two knitted cushions and a fluffy heart. I do avoid bringing them out around the children though, especially in the winter, when things like this are really hard to dry quickly if there is an accident.
Turn your fireplace into a perfect spot for milk and cookies…
For a childminder, it’s standard regulation to have plastic covers on the corners of my fireplace. But as a mum, I don’t feel this is enough. So to make sure a child has a soft landing if they trip, I cover mine with a double layer of fleece throws.
As it turns out, it’s so comfy that the kids love sitting on it for their milk and cookies. From time to time this results in spills, of course. But fleecy throws can be put straight in the washing machine and are quick drying, so they’ll be ready again for the next day.