While raising children can be an extremely fulfilling and rewarding experience, it also comes with its fair share of trials! It’s an inevitable fact of family life: Your home is sure to take some damage. Fortunately, you can refer to this helpful list of 5 good ways to protect your home from your children for some handy tips on damage control.
1. Guard your window screens
Those fine, crisp window screens are a prime target for little fingers and sharp toys to poke holes through, and they’re quite easy to damage. A quick short-term fix is to simply keep any windows within reach closed during playtime. If you enjoy opening the windows for a cool breeze too much to give it up, then you might want to invest in window guards designed specifically for childproofing.
While window screen patches are certainly a great band-aid to utilize in case the worst happens, window guards may prove to be a much more rewarding investment. A well-designed set of window guards will both prevent your window screens from damage, and save climbing children from a potentially nasty fall.
2. Protect door frames and baseboards with glossy sealant
Just like paint, a higher-gloss varnish is far easier to clean and maintain than lower-gloss, satin, or matte finish sealants are. When given the choice between a matte stain and a smooth, glossy varnish: Always pick the gloss!
A thicker varnish is stronger and more likely to withstand dings and dents as well, such as those created by rogue toy cars or tumbling blocks. Another added perk of a protective gloss finish is that its higher moisture resistance will guard the surface of your baseboard moulding during those ever-frequent mopping sessions!
3. Use waterproof mats creatively
While most parents are quite familiar with those handy plastic or rubber pads that are used to waterproof mattresses during potty training, not all are taking advantage of their full potential. Urine pads might be designed with bedtime in mind, but their surface-protecting properties can be put to use anywhere that prolonged sitting or eating come into play.
Rather than reserving handy accident pads for bedtime and naps only, get a couple of extras that can be used to protect upholstered furniture as well. Accidents are bound to happen, and the resulting messes can be very difficult to clean out of upholstery or carpets. However, the skillful use of urine pads can make cleanup a breeze.
4. Consider the setting of various activities
While the freedom to make choices is crucial to cognitive development, you’ll want to maintain a method to the madness. Taking preventative measure to keep messes from getting started is bound to be far easier than a lot of the cleanup would be--especially if that cleanup involves carpets!
By confining messier activities to rooms or areas with hard floors such as wood, linoleum, and tile, you’ll dramatically reduce the likelihood of pesky stains. Don’t eat in front of the TV together over rugs and carpets, and don’t encourage your kids to paint near the rug!
Should the worst happen and a paint palette or bowl of oatmeal go clattering to the floor, the cleanup will go far more smoothly if you’re able to mop up a smooth surface without any added hassle.
5. Don’t give your walls a matte finish
Where adults see walls and all the hard work that went into the last coat of paint, children see a wide-open canvas. Many otherwise-pristine walls have been sullied by crayons, pens, markers, and even fingers paints. If you catch the mess quickly, it’s often much easier to wipe off.
However, the finish of the paint on your walls makes a huge difference. If you’re thinking about repainting your walls to give your home a fresh, new look, always opt for paint with a gloss or semi-gloss finish. Avoid matte paint like the plague, since it will soak up stains that would more easily wipe off of a glossy surface.
6. Minimize your children’s access to sliding doors and windows
Bi-fold doors and sliding patio windows can add a beautiful touch to a home and reinforce your sense of personal style. However, they simply aren’t as sturdy or able to withstand force as standard doors with swinging hinges are.
Whenever possible, limit the access that your kids have to sliding and bi-fold doors--especially if those doors are located in storage areas such as closets. Children love to amass hoards of toys, and heavy piles of belongings or extra clothes can put a lot of added strain on closet doors.
If it isn’t practical for you to minimize your children’s access to sliding or bi-fold doors in your home, then you can still protect them by utilizing specialized child locks. Many of these locks are designed to latch at the top where little hands can’t reach, allowing you to control how often and how gently the doors are used.
7. Always use cabinet locks
Cabinet locks are not only crucial to the safety of your children, but they can help protect your home and hardware as well. Cabinet doors and shelves are simply too tempting for many children to resist leaning or standing on them in order to gain added height.
It’s hard to blame them for wanting to get a better view, but unfortunately cabinet shelves aren’t made to withstand the added weight and can bow or even collapse. Lazy Susans are particularly tempting for kids to stand on and, unfortunately, are especially prone to damage as well--once they’re bent off balance, they’ll never spin in quite the same way again.
Always install cabinet locks--one ill-fated urge to get a better look at the countertops could result in injury and cost you a perfectly good set of brackets or hinges.
8. Take a critical look at your toilet
It’s understandable for you to leave your toilet as-is if you don’t have a good reason to replace it. However, if an upgraded commode is on the horizon for your family, consider getting one with a commercial-sized drain. These will provide a wider passage for anything that gets flushed, decreasing the risk of toys or other objects creating expensive, aggravating plumbing problems.
If you have no intention of replacing your toilet anytime soon, then you can keep beloved toys from being lost to the pipes with a handy, affordable toilet lid lock. These will help keep the lid safely locked in place when you aren’t there to supervise, and can do wonders to prevent unwanted blockages.
9. Keep riding toys away from interior walls
While rideable plastic cars and small tricycles can provide your children with countless hours of entertainment, be careful with where you allow these toys to be played with. If your child doesn’t stop in time, it’s easier than you might think to bust a hole in the wall--especially if they miss the stud.
Unfortunately, the fear of getting in trouble will often result in kids attempting to conceal what they’ve done. This can increase the risk of holes hidden in bedroom walls getting worse over time, since the exposed edges are significantly more brittle and prone to added breakage. The rough edges of the sheetrock are tempting to pick at as well, making it best to prevent all likelihood of this mishap entirely!
To minimize the risk of trikes, push cars, and other large toys putting unsightly, expensive holes in your walls, confine their use to areas such as the garage or yard. It’s far better for a miniature fender-bender to result in a tumble on the grass than a missing chunk of drywall.
10. Don’t forget about your sprinklers and hoses
When you encourage your kids to play with potentially-destructive riding toys in the yard, make sure you don’t forget about your yard fixtures! Sprinklers can open the door to a whole world of summertime fun, but are distressingly easy to damage as well.
Not only can sprinkler heads easily go unnoticed and get run over by kids on riding toys, but they can sustain damage from being pulled or stepped on as well. When shopping for your family’s ideal sprinkler system to keep your lawn looking fresh, opt for a sturdy non-mechanical one if possible.
Additionally, keep any garden hoses in strategic locations in order to prevent unnecessary wear and tear. Yanking on the hose can damage its structure or the spigot it’s attached to--not to mention the tripping hazards that sprawling hoses present for little ones.
While childproofing your home with the kids’ safety in mind is extremely important, it’s a good idea to look after the well-being of your home as well! Simple measures such as a well-informed choice in paint finish or the skillful use of waterproof pads can make a huge difference in the amount of damage that your home sustains in the face of family messes.
Children are bound to get curious--they’ll poke around where they shouldn’t, climb where they shouldn’t, and draw adorable pictures where they shouldn’t. They might find themselves unable to resist the temptation to see if that little toy boat floats in the toilet, or the allure of plowing a trike into the wall at full speed.
Fortunately, if you remember these 10 tips for protecting your home from your kids, you just might find that damage control is more manageable than you thought!