The other night a friend came over and joined us for our Tuesday night common meal in the common house. It was a wonderful Zushi meal (sushi without the fish) and we were both trying to enjoy the meal while tending to children that were both a bit cranky. His daughter is 16 months and my son is 14 months. As we were sitting there my son (who had finished eating ahead of me per usual) went into the kitchen for about the 3rd time and so I got up to ‘run’ after him as the common kitchen is REALLY not a place for small children.
My friend asked me if I look at design differently now that I have a child and if there are design elements I would change moving forward. To be honest, I hadn’t really thought about it specifically before. I guess I had just thought this is a stage they go through and as a parent you are on top of it, you ‘baby-proof’ your house to the degree it seems to work and when you’re not at home, you pay extra attention.
In the days that have followed though, I think there are a few things I would definitely do differently or at least take into consideration. There are also some things we have done that I’d definitely repeat. Here are a few I can think of. What else would you do?
Gates – It would be really nice to think through where you may want to keep children from going, at least during certain times, and then be sure that there is a way to attach most children’s gates there.
Window sills – I would also try to design homes so that at least some window sills are low enough to be seen out of by a small child. My son loves to look out the window and I think it’s important to be able to do so.
Outlet locations – One thing we did do was locate all the electrical outlets in the kids room at about 48”. This has worked out great! While I don’t think it’s practical to do that everywhere, I think having a few strategic higher outlets around the home would be really helpful. The outlet covers work well for outlets not in use, but if you want to have something plugged it, the cord and the outlet become an immediate attractive nuisance.
Outdoor spaces – I also love that we have walkways outside our place that have railings. The kids can run up and down the walkway and there are very few places where they can get into trouble. It’s fun for them, it’s outside, and they can wave at people down below or across the courtyard.
High cabinets in bathrooms – I would place at least some storage high in the bathrooms. He loves to open the drawers and see what’s inside. Pull things out and investigate when we’re getting ready. As a result, we now store some of our stuff we don’t want to disappear or that aren’t safe for him on our countertop and that leaves the place looking cluttered and messy. Placing some cabinets up above would put them out of his reach and easy for us to access.