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Unleashing the Beast

For months and months, we had “big ass” baby gate dividing our 12 foot wide by 21 foot long main floor into two distinct “zones.”

There was the kid-friendly area.  AND  the portion at the front of the house, which was off-limits because there is a small sunken entry, the main staircase, a ginormous floor-to-ceiling mirror, and frankly, because our pets needed a “safe zone” away from our other much beloved beast:  Mac, the toddler.

This arrangement served us really well for a long time.  Everyone was safe and happy.  But once I learned I was pregnant, the idea of having a sofa where Mac and I could sit comfortably and play quietly, started to become more attractive.  Mac was also getting better at treating the cats and dog gently.  And most annoyingly, every time we’d enter the house, he’d chuck a fit to explore the “off-limits” area at the front of the house – complete with gigantic dog dish, nice art on the wall, and uncovered outlets.

Mommy, tear down this baby gate!  

About two weeks ago, I got awake at 3:30AM and couldn’t get back to sleep.   And while I attempted to lie quietly in bed, ignoring my bladder and the pregnancy congestion that makes me bonkers, I started forming a plan for our main floor. . .

I was going to do it!

I was going to Unleash the Beast and give him free reign of the entire first floor!

The furniture placement wasn’t too difficult.  I mean, there’s only one or two options in a house this size.  Plus, as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve paired down our furniture because I just didn’t have the time or patience to clean around it, to keep the kid off of it, or the heart to see it completely destroyed with markers and yogurt-snot schmears.

I hopped out of bed at 4:30AM and got to it.  I really only had to slide a couple of large pieces around on the hard-wood floors so it wasn’t strenuous and I could do it myself.

And when Chris came downstairs a few minutes later, he figured out a way to employ big ass baby gate so that the stairs and dog bowl are still off-limits most of the time.  As an added bonus, we can swing it the other way into the middle of the house to keep the dog towards the front of the house during mealtime.  He’s become quite the little beggar since Mac discovered he’ll eat nearly ANYTHING.

I won’t lie, that mirror had me worried.  I had visions of Mac hurling something at it with disastrous results.  But so far, he seems happy just to touch it gently and scream “HI!” at his own reflection.

Of course, I removed all knick knacky stuff from every surface.  I removed everything from the chest by the front door.  I eliminated every lamp but one.  And naturally, I made sure all the outlets were covered since this kid LOVES running around with forks.

However, there was one thing I didn’t adequately anticipate:  I failed to consider all the art, photos, and items on the shelves in this part of the house.

I guess I just stupidly assumed Mac wouldn’t really pay them much mind with all the other things he had to hold his attention.

GAWD, when will I stop stupidly assuming shit?

After about two days of exploring his expanded digs, he started going after the stuff on the walls with great enthusiasm and vigor.  I tried to redirect his focus.  I tried to ignore him.  I tried. . .

But then crap came crashing down.

Still optimistic, I made a couple of hopeful adjustments.

And then Chris and Mac came down the stairs one morning and accidentally decimated a few items I had just moved to a “safer spot.”


Yesterday afternoon, during Mac’s nap, I got out my white flag and my spackle and started removing EVERYTHING from the walls.

Husband:  “What happened to the shelf that was here this morning?”

Me:  “I took it down.  Along with everything else on the walls.  Look!”

Husband:  Wisely silent.

Husband 20 minutes later:  “Did everything really have to come off that wall?  Even the stuff high up?”

Me:  “I’m starting over.”

Husband:  “Oh. . . .” (insert sense of dread here).

I definitely want stuff on that wall. . .I mean, if I don’t put a bunch of crap back up there, I’m going to have to paint it.  I’m way too lazy for that!  But what?

I was thinking about unframed canvases.  They are reasonably priced.  I can definitely have some fun painting them myself.  If they come crashing off the wall, they won’t do much damage.  I was also thinking about “empty” frames.  They won’t have glass to break.  And I could use painter’s tape rotate Mac’s own art or photos in them.

Yes, it’s not going to look as sophisticated. . .but I have Legos in my ice tray, a stuffed giraffe on my desk, and chocolate chip cookie smeared all over my slip covers. . .so clearly sophisticated is no longer a viable decor option for us.

I’m becoming more and more attracted to a very colorful, kid (and adult and pet) friendly environment sort of ala Novogratz and Anna Spiro. . .but I don’t want this place looking like a damned preschool class room.

Can I do it?

I’ll keep you POSTED.  😉

What have I done now?

What have I done now?







4 Responses to “Unleashing the Beast”

  1. Meghan says:

    Bold move – and drastic adjustments. Is it working for you all? We only have the stairs and office baracaded and it’ll stay that way until I find time to clean the darn office. piles of important papers and small sharp objects like pens and pencils are gonna stay out of reach for now. It would be nice to take the damn baby gate down at some point tho…
    Meghan recently posted…Somber 5K for BostonMy Profile

    • admin says:

      So far, Mac loves the sofa and is using it “responsibly.” I’ve shoved his table and chairs in front of it so it can be kinda’ like a “coffee table” since our “real” coffee table was my Great-Aunt Helen’s and is lovely but delicate and glass topped and has gone into hiding for at least the next decade. Ha! This made room for the high chair – which I never thought I wanted to see again – beside the fridge in the kitchen. That sucker is getting sanded and sprayed. I can’t stand looking at it’s sad self much longer!

      I’m working on putting stuff back on the wall. As predicted, Mac yanks it off just as fast as it goes up, but he’s not damaging anything so I guess that’s a win.

      Chris’ desk has been partially child-proofed and I’ve stashed all pens, etc in high places and out of sight. I already gave up every bottom drawer in my secretary to Mac months ago.

      I have to say, it’s really nice not to be working around that baby gate all day long. Give Avery a few more months, maybe you can give it a test run. . .Although it sounds as if you have a little more space than us so Avery probably doesn’t even mind that the office is off-limits. Can’t wait to hear!

  2. the twins turned 3 last month and we JUST took down the last baby gate on the first floor.

    still have one upstairs so they can’t get into The Kid’s room or the spare room / office / my art studio
    The Next Step recently posted…Wordless Wednesday: O is for Oh Say Can You SeeMy Profile

    • admin says:

      It’s a damned shame baby gates won’t work when they are 16 and trying to sneak out of the house at night. I guess I should be happy we’re not to that point yet! 🙂