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When I found out I was expecting twins last year, I set about — as any expecting parent would — rethinking my home and considering how best to get it ready for our new bundles.
For my husband and me, this meant converting our garage into an office, given our existing office was to become the nursery. We also finally remodeled our one full bathroom — the brown water coming from the 1930s plumbing in our bathtub would simply not do for bathing babies! Of course, we also set up a sweet little nursery.
Overall, I’m pleased with how we got our house ready to suit our newborn babies, but there are a few things we could have tweaked in the process of getting our house ready for babies — both in terms of practical parts of the setup, and in terms of our expectation.
1. The changing station is the most important thing in the nursery.
There’s one thing that served a critical purpose from the moment we got home from the hospital: the changing station. Sure, we had our diapers and wipes on hand. But if I could go back and do it again, I would have had them all unwrapped and in their baskets, and I would have even had a liner all ready to go in the diaper pail. Because when you get home from the hospital, bewildered as you may be, that’s the one task you can’t delay!
2. Closet organization is key.
Most reasonable people could easily intuit that having kids requires you to be more organized than ever in your home, because you will simply have more stuff and more people to look after. But there’s an additional component I hadn’t really thought of: If you’re not organized, you will burn through money unnecessarily.
I did organize my babies’ clothes in giant plastic bins by size, but things still got lost in the shuffle. Plus, as a new mom, I didn’t even know how to use some of the shower gifts! And by the time I figured it out, the appropriate stage of development was passed. If I’d known, I’d have had my babies’ closet organized more carefully, with the newborn stuff in the front, and the rest arranged going backward according to development stage.
3. Old furniture is just fine.
It doesn’t take a genius to know that new babies and white sofas don’t make for a great pair. So I was in no way naive enough to think that pregnancy would be a brilliant time to buy the light-colored furniture that I knew could brighten up my living room.
Still, we were just finishing up a home remodel, and I spent some time browsing new sofas (ours were long-ago hand-me-downs from my husband’s baby brother!), considering colors and fabrics that seemed reasonably stain resistant.
In the end, we didn’t pull the trigger — and I’m so glad. New stuff simply would have added stress to the whole new parenthood thing, which is stressful enough. And it involves so many spilled and leaking fluids that I can now just wipe with a napkin and think, “One day, when this phase has passed, we’ll cheer up our living room with new sofas and I will be able to actually enjoy them!”
4. The baby's things will pile up — and that's okay.
When I was preparing for my twins, I made a pact with my husband that we would remain as tidy as possible — even when the chips for that were stacked heavily against us. One way we’d planned to do this is by keeping all the kids’ stuff in the nursery, and keeping our grown-up areas pristine and guest-ready. But in reality, with a two-bedroom house, our kids’ belongings filled half of our living room in no time.
Sure, we might be better able to segregate grown-folks’ stuff versus kid stuff if we had a large house — a house big enough, for instance, to have a dedicated playroom. But even then we’d want to be near our kids as we watched TV or relaxed in the living room.
So in short, it’s pretty likely that — no matter your goals — you will share at least some of your grown-up space with ginormous, colorful plastic things that make all kinds of obnoxious noises. And, amid all those delightful giggles and sweet baby babbling, it might not even bother you as much as you had expected.
This article was originally published on May. 11, 2015.