So there are two questions I often get asked since we moved into our new home. They're rather loaded questions so I've decided to break them up into two separate blog posts. For now, we'll focus on the first question:
1. Is it really possible to raise children in a home with my decorating style?
2. How do I manage to keep it so nice and organized?
Yes, let me explain.
Our last house was less than half the size of our new home. The children outnumbered us and the toys, diapers, clothes, and baby equipment were slowly taking over every square inch of that house. I'd lost my sense of style to large, battery-operated, plastic pieces of annoyance and food encrusted, pain-in-the-butt-to-clean baby must-haves (you know what I'm talking about: highchairs, bouncy seats, jumperoos, bumbos, exersaucers, and the list goes on and on and on). By the time our third child was born, I'd not only lost my sense of style but I was beginning to lose my sense of self. Our house, at the time, was so tiny that there was no more storage space available and absolutely nowhere for me to even hide from my own children. I was drowning in early childhood hell! It became imminent to find a new place that suited all of our needs: a home in which my husband and I were free to express ourselves, a place where the children had designated areas to nurture their growth, energy, and creativity, and finally, a place with much more space, but still remaining warm, cozy, and welcoming.
We lucked out! Our new home has all of those qualities. The kids have their own rooms and we use our sunroom as a shared space; a family room so to speak. It's not that we don't allow our children the run of the entire house; they are most certainly free to explore and play wherever they'd like, however, we do have set rules in our home and we expect our children to follow those rules. In our family, having respect for each other and our belongings is extremely important to us. We work very hard for the things we have and we want our children to learn that when we take good care of our things, we can enjoy them for a long time. We hope that in raising our children to be mindful of others' feelings and possessions, that they will continue to carry on such a significant quality, not only when they're guests at other people's homes but later, in their own adult lives as well.
It's very important that Ken and I be the best role models for our children that we can possibly be. We know that in demonstrating the exact behaviors we expect from them, they're more likely to follow suit. For instance, when preparing for our move, we were trying to get rid of things we no longer needed, used, played with, or wore and my children had 100% say over the items they chose to throw away or donate, because who am I to say what is or is not important to them...or, just the other day, I asked my daughter for her permission before using her chapstick. We treat people the way we want to be treated and in raising our children this way (mistakes aside because we understand accidents do happen) we will be able to own nice things, we'll keep a tidy, organized house, and we'll be invited back, again and again, to our friends' and families' homes.
We've been in our new house for almost 6 months now and our children have truly shown such kindness and consideration for our home and everything that adorns it. I will overhear them reminding their friends to "take their shoes off at the door and use their walking feet" and now that the baby is crawling and getting into everything, we're patiently teaching him to use "gentle touches" and that we "sit down on our tushes" while sitting on the couch. I couldn't be more proud of the sweet and caring people they are growing up to be.
So the next time you're eyeing that new piece of furniture or an expensive, new vase and don't think it'll last very long in your home, due to a curious toddler or that energetic 7 year old...remind yourself that, first of all, you deserve it! If you're anything like me, you probably don't treat yourself to nice things very often, so go ahead...splurge a little. Second of all, make sure to go over the rules of the new purchase so everyone is on the same page and your expectations are clear; and, finally, keep those receipts...you know...just in case...