Adventures in Attachment Parenting: Toddler Friendly by Allison Silver

Like many Americans we packed up our car last Saturday and drove to visit family for the holiday weekend. We drove three hours to visit my father in law and his girlfiend. Now this sounds like a nice idea but quite honestly visiting them is like spending the weekend with tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum! I know that sounds mean but it really is the truth. My father-in-law and his girlfriend are always bumping into each other, conversations never have a point, and nothing ever gets accomplished. Seriously it takes them over two hours usually just to get breakfast on the table! Now just take a moment to imagine that. Yep, that was our weekend! Anything but restful!

To make matters even worse this was the first time we have gone to visit them since Charley has been walking. I have designed our home so that it is “toddler-friendly”. This basically means that Charley can open pretty much any cabinet in the house and it is all toddler friendly things that she can pull out and not injure herself with. We only have one baby gate in our home which is at the top of the stairs. I designed our home this way to allow her to be the curious toddler that she is going to be and to limit the need to tell her “no” all of the time. I mean who wants to spend all day saying, “no”? That isn’t fun for anyone.

My father-in-law and his girlfriend told us that they had picked up all of the breakables and were ready for our visit. When we arrived I did what most moms do and just quickly glanced around to make sure there wasn’t any imminent danger. As I was looking around I was thinking to myself, “Honestly what did they put away…….the chainsaw?” There were breakable non toddler friendly things everywhere! The first thing Charley made a beeline for was collection of things on top of the buffet in the dining room. This piece of furniture was right at toddler height. I quickly intercepted her and started putting everything in higher locations. There was this one item on top of the buffet that I thought would be okay it looked like a platter of various stones so I kept those out thinking that would be fun. Little did I know that this platter of rocks were sentimental to my father-in-law’s girlfriend and she didn’t like the fact that I was letting Charley play with them. Are you kidding me? It’s a platter of rocks, Lady! And if they are so special why didn’t you put them away? In a pretty snarky tone I told her to put them away next time if she doesn’t want Charley to play with them.

One of Charley’s favorite places to play in our home is in the kitchen. Again this is a “toddler friendly” space in our home where she can play with various mixing bowls and utensils and keep busy while I am cooking. We keep all of our breakables such as plates and glasses in cabinets that are up higher. I just assumed that most people do this. I was wrong! My father-in-law and his girlfriend have designed their kitchen so all plates and bowls and fine china are at knee level. The plates, bowls, and coffee cups that they use on a daily basis aren’t even in a cupboard they are just on an open shelf in the kitchen that is like two feet off the ground. Who does this??

I wasn’t about to move all of their plates, bowls, and coffee cups plus there really wasn’t any space to move them to. While I was thinking about what to do I quickly remembered what I used to do in my preschool classroom. In every classroom I taught in I always had open shelves that had various toys and learning materials on them. When I didn’t want the children to play with them I covered the different areas with a sheet. This always used to work in my classroom. I quickly asked for a large kitchen towel and a few thumbtacks and in a few short seconds the plates and bowls were covered up. I know it’s just a sheet but honestly the whole outta sight outta mind thing really does work.

I know that the toddler years are only a few short years in the grand scheme of things and many people forget what it’s like to have a curious toddler. I also understand that not everybody’s home is going to be “toddler friendly” but if you invite a family with a toddler to your home you should at least attempt to child proof some things. And if you don’t well don’t be too surprised if they don’t stay too long or get a bit snarky!

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