Seems like everyone in the blogosphere is sharing their New Year's Resolutions! This year, my husband and I have some pretty simple goals: to take better care of ourselves and to get the house organized. We believe that if we take care of these 2 things, pretty much everything else that currently challenges us will fall into place.
In that spirit, I wanted to share this post-my "audition" post that got me my coveted contributor spot over at Rock On Mommies. Hope you enjoy and please don't be shy with your questions and comments!
As a professional interior designer, I’m always surprised how shy people sometimes are with their questions. I always tell them, “I’m your decorator, not your pastor!” No matter what kind of design challenge you may be facing, I’m here to tell you that there are many people out there in the same boat. In the decorating world at least, you are never alone!
For instance, one of my most common queries has to do with an issue I have grappled with myself:
How do you child-proof your home without completely turning it over to your kids?
You don’t want the kind of house where the kids aren’t allowed to touch anything ever, but you don’t want a Lord of the Flies situation either. And what if you work from home? What if you’d actually like to have a friend over for a margarita? What’s a modern mom to do?
Unfortunately this issue was not covered at my fancy-shmancy design school (cue ironic trombone). So when I became a mom, I had to follow the example of the only interior designer I knew who had faced and conquered this challenge head-on: my dad.
My mom worked as a teacher, but my dad ran his budding design business from home. And like so many of us moms today, he did it with two noisy, messy kids and a dog in the background. And he did it successfully. Even though it was almost 30 years ago, many of the tricks he used can be adapted for today’s mommy. Here’s a shortlist of the tips my dad used to keep us kids from destroying our home, his business and my both my parents’ sanity:
1. Get help. When dad decided to start his business, it was clear he would have to work from home. So my parents closely examined the family budget (remember we were essentially living on a teacher’s salary) and made some serious cuts. That way they could afford to get a sitter for a few hours a day, enough to get phone calls and client meetings done. If you simply do not have the resources to hire, please consider trading with other moms or anyone you trust with your kids.
2. You can’t childproof all of the house all of the time. As a designer, Dad knew that you can only control your environment up to a point. So he designated the front of the house as a “kid-free” zone. Which is not to say we weren’t allowed in there at all, but our stuff (toys, books, shoes, crumbs) was forbidden. If we brought it into the room, we had to take it out. That way he could schedule meetings anytime we had a babysitter without having to clean up first. Also? Dad knew that you could (and should!) furnish a home in a manner that is stylish and durable. All the furniture in entire house was sturdy and easy to clean.
A kid-friendly living space? Yep!
3. Don’t break the sound barrier. Back in Dad’s day, that meant a separate phone line just for the business (which he kept on a shelf too high for us to reach). Today, with mobile phones and caller ID, things are much easier! I like to use a free service called YouMail, www.youmail.com, which lets me customize my outgoing message. Business clients get a “businessy” message and the family gets a cute message from my kids. Be sure you only answer calls when you are ready to do so. Even though people say they understand, they really hate having to talk over the sound of “Mom? Mom?”
4. Nothing is more precious than your kids. I still wince when I remember how many pricey objet my sister and I broke over the years. Let’s just say it could have paid for a year of college and keep it at that. Even though my parents would get upset at first, they would never dwell on broken stuff, which really helped us kids to feel like it was our home, too.
I realize this isn’t child-proofing in the “corner guards and toilet locks” sense, but growing up in a designer’s home helped me see that there really is no such thing as “child-proof.” Like everything else in life, living harmoniously with your kids requires patience, balance, and a sense of humor. I guess the goal is to have a home (and a life, for that matter) that is not so much child-proof as child-friendly.
Wishing you a Happy New Year with extra cheese,