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February 2, 2012

An Un-Gated Community: Day 5

We’re on Day 5 of no baby gates. All in all and KNOCK ON WOOD, things are going pretty well…as usual, much better than the worst-case scenario / Mommy-stuffed-in-the-oven-while-the-girls-swing-from-the-chandelier I had imagined.

Granted, I have relaxed some of my standards. I would really like for the girls to hang out in the den unless they have a reason to be in the kitchen…but I quickly realized that’s probably unrealistic. Particularly when I’m in the kitchen, they want to wander in to see what’s going on, and I’m OK with that.

Nonetheless, I have held to most of my rules:

- The den is for playing; the kitchen is not.
- Toys stay in the den.
- Walk - don't run - on the wood floor (at least in theory).
- Do not sit on the wood floor.
- Do not reach up on the table or the counters.
- Do not open cabinets or drawers.

I was afraid the kitchen table would be a big lure, and I envisioned the worst of bumps and bruises – on the girls and on the furniture. We quickly reached a compromise, where the girls can sit at the table to read. (And how I love to see my babes propped up reading!!!)

Still, that has prompted us to add a new rule -- do not move the kitchen chairs.

One more rule I added -- ask Mommy before you throw anything away. (I didn’t think about it, but the girls have never had free access to a trash can!)

The girls have done a good job of not wandering into the dining room or the living room. They don’t see us spending much time in there, so maybe it doesn’t much occur to them. And they haven’t gone upstairs by themselves, save when I’ve gone up there to get something, which is probably understandable.

These past few days have been interesting for me, though, a combination of count it, and ignore it, while trying somehow to be consistent.

I know that the girls are exploring their boundaries, and some things probably just need to run their course. They’ll eventually realize that walking laps around the kitchen table is not very fun. It drives me a little batty, but I’m choosing to ignore it.

Other times, I’ve found myself being very strict about certain things, like opening cabinets. I think there is a certain example that needs to be set, that these are hard and fast rules. Three strikes, and you’re in time out, no questions.

Like any other transition, the past few days have been stressful…the girls, testing their boundaries, and me, trying to respond fairly, and in a way that helps them understand what’s expected of them.

And, although I didn’t think to expect it, this has been a very emotional few days, too. I look back to so many other transitions…most recently, potty training…when the girls are accepting new responsibilities. It must be a lot for them to process, and there’s definitely a heightened sense of emotion here.

Between the stress of trying to discipline the girls and the emotions running pretty high, this mama is pretty tired. I don’t usually think much about what day of the week it is…but this week I’m definitely looking forward to the weekend and having Hubby home.

And my guess is that this first week will be the toughest…that in another few days we’ll all have reached a new level of “normal”.

In the meantime, I’m so enjoying the open feeling to the house…not hurdling baby gates 100 times a day…and the idea – as Rebecca said – that “it’s their house, too”. It’s definitely a new level of “family”.


Brad Jenkins said...

I'd never thought about these changes as additional responsibilities for the girls. That's pretty brilliant.

Have you child-proofed certain drawers/cabinets or are all of them accessible? I did the one under the sink with all the chemicals, just to be safe, and our girls still live in their gated community, so they shouldn't ever be near it unsupervised.

Great name for the post btw.

Cuz I'm the mama! said...

Wow! I clearly lost control of boundaries long ago. We never did the gated approach.. Rather locked up untouchables. I'm sure I would of had less stress if I'd set more limits. Sounds like overall it's going well in this new stage. It's nice they are older and can comprehend consequences a bit more. Hang in!

Anonymous said...

We recently took the (almost) last of our gates down....the TV,and all of the video game systems, DVR box, Blu-Ray player, and CD player as well as two full shelves of DVD's are now accessible. It was nerve-wracking. They haven't touched anything. Except the DVD's, which they could get to over the gate anyway. :)

Barbara Manatee said...

Some of our kitchen cupboards have child locks on them but not all. Anything with glass or poison has a lock on it but the rest are able to be opened. I often feared full boxes of cereal or pasta being dumped out while I was busy in another room but amazingly we've never had any such disaster!

A few more days and you'll wonder why you didn't open up sooner :-)

Mandy said...

I am laughing out loud at how fearful you seem! I really makes want to sneak through your kitchen and rearrange the pots and pans! LOL

I'm glad things are going well. Have you tried letting them help to curb some of their curiosity? The girls help me daily in the kitchen. They unload the dishwasher, putting some things away on their own. I've even started to clean out one of the bottom drawers to use for their stuff. That way they can have a little independence and responsibility. I'm looking for a deep drawer organizer so they can separate their snack cups, sippies, plates, and cutlery.

Best of luck not going gray!

Deanna said...

I think you will find they handle the new responsibilities much better than you imagine. We only ever locked up two cabinets--one with cleaning supplies and one with breakable platters and serving pieces--and we have never had a problem.

I did always let them play in the drawer that held all the tupperware containers, which has helped pass a lot of time when I need to get something done. Like Mandy said, you might think about designating a particular area/cabinet they CAN touch things in...might cut down on the boundary-pushing in other areas.

Glad it's going well...hope you all have a great Friday!

cat said...

Just the next step forward! Glad it is going so well

Rebecca @ Unexplained X2 said...

I'm so behind. I love that you're doing a day-by-day counter for this no-gate lifestyle!

I, too, gave the Crazies access to the Tupperware drawer...that way they had at least SOMETHING that was ok. They just want to feel ok and like they're not disappointing you every time you turn around.

It took us a long time to realize that the Crazies were throwing things away. Way too long. I'm pretty sure they threw away at least one of my Bluetooth headsets when I wasn't paying attention...c'est la vie!