Pest control is actually more difficult than child proofing. Now that they are already in your house there is not a lot that you can do. They are their to stay for the rest of your life. The best you can do is to control area access. At least until they figure out how to bypass your security system.
Exploration and Trouble
As soon as children become mobile, at about six months, your world will never be the same. My daughter learned to roll at about six months. Not just roll over, but to roll across the floor to get where she wanted to go. She was everywhere! It was just downhill from there. As soon as mobility is mastered, children quickly learn to travel at the speed of sound. As soon as you hear it you know it is too late.
Small children do not set out to make a mess. At least not when they are first starting to explore. They are just curious and want to know what everything is and what it does. There are two basic problem to watch for:
- They do not know what will hurt them and what won’t.
- They are fearless.
We all have cupboards. Some are used to store various cleaning supplies that are dangerous to our children. Some are used to store things that are breakable. There are cupboards with food. Cupboards with pots and pans. You get the idea.
With dogs, cats and small children in the house I kept my kitchen trash in the cupboard under the sink. My toddler at the time like to throw things away: paper, flatware, toys, etc. Tired of loosing spoons and picking things out of the trash I spent an hour putting latches on the cupboard doors. I stabbed my finger with the screw driver and I pinched several different fingers. I was very glad to have it done. About 15 minutes after completing this task my son came into the kitchen. He went straight to the cleaning cupboard and discovered that it was now latched. He rattled the door and looked at the latch from the side. He rattled the door again and, standing on his tip toes, looked at the latch from the top. He worked his way around the door with his hands rattling it from every direction. I was feeling very comfortable with this. Then it happened. He, took a step back, braced his feet, put his little hands in carefully chosen locations on the side of the cupboard and rattled it to check his placement. Then with one determined pull he popped the latch breaking it in the process.
Children 1, Mom 0.
You know how it works, we put things up high that we do not want our children to get into. In our pantry the candy and other yummy treats are on the very top shelf. My prescription and over-the-counter medications and such were in the cupboards over my 25 cubic foot refrigerator. I can’t reach either of these places without a tall stool so I figured that they would be safe. Right? Wrong!
Some children are closely related to small monkeys. They start climbing as soon as they are able to pull themselves up to a standing position. I had a couple of climbers, but one in particular stopped my heart on a regular basis. I firmly believe that he had Spiderman powers. I walked into the kitchen one day and stopped dead in my tracks. There, sitting on top of the refrigerator, was my son. He wasn’t even two yet. I looked around to see how he could have gotten up there and saw no chairs, no open cupboards, the refrigerator and freezer were both closed and the counter was clear. To this day I do not know how he got up there. But I will never forget the mischievous look in his eyes or the smile on his face as he sat there kicking his feet.
Children 2, Mom 0.
These children seem to have the ability to get out of anywhere. Locks mysteriously open themselves. Cribs and playpens are conspicuously empty. Nothing seems to keep them where we want them to stay. I remember thinking that I didn’t have this problem with my first child. Then it dawned on me. There was nobody for her to conspire with.
Do not underestimate the power of these small minds nor the creativity of their brainstorming. These little people will even train your pets as accomplices.
Children 3, Mom 0.
Each generation of children is smarter than the last. Some parents think that as long as the children do not out number the adults it will be okay. As a mother who has gone from equal numbers to out numbered I can tell you that this is not true. The reason? One child is smarter than us. With each additional child, it doesn’t just increase the number of children by one, it multiplies the amount of knowledge and creativity by the total number of children squared. A parents only survival tool is going to be tactical advantage.
I have found some things that work very well for me. They won’t work for everyone, but if parents band together we might survive child rearing with most of our mental faculties intact.
- Do not argue logic with a child. They will win. Use your trump card, “Because I’m your mother and I say so!” It drove us crazy as children simple because we could not logic our way out of it.
- You OWN the refrigerator. If they want access cooperation is required.
- You know where they sleep. This will start a child’s imagination running simply because of the implication. What will you do?
- Never say anything you are not willing to do. Remember, children will test all the boundaries and you will be required to do what you say.
- Use the older children to tame the younger. If they KNOW you will follow through they will whisper horrors into the ears of their younger siblings.
- Surprise them with special rewards for good behavior. Something that they will enjoy and remember. If you use the advantage of the surprise they will try to duplicate the behavior that was rewarded just in case they will be rewarded again. Make sure that you have another surprise before the effects of the first one are forgotten. It is acceptable to talk about how much fun it was every now and again to remind them that it could happen again.
- Time is more important to children than money. It makes them feel important, valued and heard.
Being a parent is a frustrating, exasperating and exhausting job. It is also the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. The first time your baby says, “I love you Mommy,” it melts your heart and will stay with you forever. When you hear your teenage say, “Thanks Mom,” you feel as if you have done something extraordinary. Take the time to enjoy your children. Enjoy each stage in their life. Before you know it they will be grown and busy with lives of their own.
If you have children, or have children come to visit in your home, share your best strategies and security measures. What are the best locks you have found for cupboards? Have you found a way to keep your little Houdini from getting out? Do you know where they learned to apperate? Do your children have levitational abilities?