I’m going to preface this by saying I am not a parenting expert. Just a mom with a job and not a lot of time, so while I realize I’m a bit anal, I think it works to my advantage in terms of keeping my house relatively unscathed from the tornado of young children.
I’ve mentioned projects I’ve done around the house, to brighten it up and make it a little less generic. During that process, I bought a white couch, painted my dining room table white and re-covered my dining chairs a light color. I had new carpet installed upstairs. My friends thought I was nuts. All the white, in a place where little people who regularly have grimy hands eat and play and run around? And why would I buy new carpet now, when my kids have a few more years before they (hopefully) become less messy?
I was unwilling to decorate my house in kid-proof colors and fabrics, and I knew I was taking a chance. That’s why I bought an IKEA couch, at a quarter of the price of the Pottery Barn one I really wanted. And chose the sale carpet, rather than the sample I loved that cost twice as much. I didn’t make these decisions without a plan. Kids don’t always listen to everything their parents say, but they learn quickly. If kids are taught early how to treat furniture or other household items, they won’t know any differently and you’ll do a lot less cleaning.
For us that meant a few hard and fast rules for the kids: don’t jump on furniture, eat or drink on the couch/carpet or touch the decorative items on our dining room shelving unit. I had to remind them about 1,000 times, but now just a look works and they stop. Well, Clay stops and Avery has an evil smile and continues for a minute, then stops.
Clay will sometimes complain that other moms let their kids play on furniture or eat wherever they want. I tell him that every family is different and that’s okay, but it’s not going to happen in my house. I think he gets it, since he told my mother-in-law one night that she wasn’t allowed to drink her wine on the couch. I reminded him to respect his elders and let her keep the wine. She drinks white, thankfully.