Cage Life

Not my house . . . sadly!
So, at my old house, when I had the two boys together, I had no less than four self-closing safety gates in operation at one time.  Yes.  Four solid barriers to be negotiated every time I wanted to go from the kitchen up to the bedroom with a massive load of laundry. This might seem incredibly over the top, but NB had a habit of eating things that weren't food and I wanted to be able to go to the toilet occasionally without having to dial 999 every time I came back down the stairs.

I had one on each door of the playroom (one to the kitchen, one to the hall), one at the bottom of the stairs and one at the top.  The top of the stairs one was the first to go as I pretty soon realised that it was more hazardous having it there than not. It is no easy task carrying two heavy toddlers downstairs when you have to open the gate with two fingers of one hand and step carefully over the bottom rim while every muscle in your upper body is practically popping out of your skin.  In the end I decided that the boys were never, ever upstairs without me anyway so what was the point?

The next one to go was the one between the playroom and the hall.  Basically, the boys needed more space for charging about, and up and down the hall was perfect.  Of course that meant that the handy under-stairs storage space had to be emptied out of all its junk.  That was a fun afternoon.  And it only took one experience of the children locking me out of the house, and one of OB escaping and running off down the street, to get me into new safety habits around securing the front door!

I knew I'd never be able to remove the last two though.  NB, in particular, was a rooter and a messer. It was apparently physically impossible for him to look at a closed cupboard, drawer, box or laundry basket without being overwhelmed by the urge to open and empty (and usually throw about as well).  I dread to think what would have happened if he ever got into the kitchen! The advent of his big-boy bed was the start of several nights of room-trashing, culminating in the spectacular feat of pulling over an entire chest of drawers onto himself.

Also, there is a sort of slightly mean parents-only amusement at watching the uninitiated trying to negotiate their way past your unfamiliar safety gates. Even when you have your own safety gates, it seems that this experience is completely non-transferable to other peoples! So, yeah, it's a small thing, but I won't deny that I had a little inner smile every time I got my sad little revenge for all the stair gates that had frustrated me during all those years of being a non-parent!

(By the way, when I was looking round for pictures of safety gates on the internet for use in this post, I noticed that all of them showed Mums effortlessly negotiating the gates with smiles on their faces and an adorable little one nestled on their hip like the one below.  I feel I need to say that this was most emphatically NOT my experience!)

Still, when we moved into the new house, and NB had moved on, I decided to see if we could do without safety gates.  And so far, it has been fine!  I can't tell you what bliss it is to move completely unfettered between kitchen and playroom carrying something spillable in each hand.  Simple pleasures!

OB is only interested in two doors in the kitchen: the door to the cupboard with the breakfast items (he has taken to getting his own breakfast - I am not fighting it!) and the door to the fridge.  I'm not wishing to give the impression that he's obsessed by food but, well, I think his actions speak for themselves!

However, recently, I've been having to re-think our safety gate situation because of the removal of another of our cages: OB's cot.  We started out the great big-boy bed adventure surprisingly well, but within a few nights, he was exploring the potential freedoms of a bed with no sides. This evening, he's been downstairs three times after I put him to bed, which is not so terrible I suppose, as long as he's walking down the stairs and not falling down them!

At first I put a safety gate at the top of the stairs, but this was problematic.  I have two landings - his bedroom is on one landing and mine on the other.  I want him to be able to get from his room to mine if he needs to, but allowing this meant that the safety gate had to be fitted in such an awkward place that we gave up on it after just one day, fearing injury to life and limb.

So I tried putting one on his bedroom door, intending to prop it open after I had gone to bed so that he could get out in the morning if he needed to.  Shortly after I put him to bed with the newly-positioned gate, I had to go upstairs to investigate an immense banging noise.  OB was kicking the gate down.  He was doing quite a good job of it.  We gave up on that.

So, the safety gates are back in the spare room, and I am left with only my (apparently not very impressive) powers of persuasion to keep OB in his bed at night.

Mind you, his old cot is still there in his room as a reminder of the threat of last resort!


  1. Ughh! Four gates? I would drive myself mad!!
    Glad things are a bit better in the new house...less barriers, physically, emotionally whatever way the better!!!

    1. I know! I really do find balancing safety with freedom quite difficult especially as I'm looking after other people's children. The one time we ended up in hospital with NB after he drank some fragranced room freshener it was a pretty unpleasant experience for us, with lots of recriminations and forms to fill in. Wouldn't like to repeat the experience!


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