Guest Contributor, Gina Smith from Keepin' it Real
Recently a young mom asked Gina this question:
Advice Needed! I have a 1 yr old, and two 8 month old babies here during the day, and our Christmas tree (fake) is going up today. How do I keep them from UN-decking my halls and tree climbing? The twins are mobile, starting to pull up, and not catching on to my saying, "don't touch" quite yet. I really don't want that to be the only thing I say alllll dayyy!
I love to hear what young moms, who are in the middle of training toddlers, are thinking. The following are some answers that were given. These moms are so creative as they work with their little people!
Anne wrote: We always had as kids, and do it now with our kids, "kid friendly safe" ornaments at the bottom of the tree. That way we could play and enjoy but not do any damage. Obviously avoid things like tinsel as its a major choking hazard!
Wendy wrote: We also put kid-friendly ornaments on the bottom couple of feet of the tree. Michaela's imagination has always run at high speed, and she would literally entertain herself for hours on end in a make-believe world where the ornaments were the characters. Being the perfectionist that I was, it bothered me at first. I soon learned to let her play all day, then rearrange them all after she went to bed, and she would start all over. Fun memories! (BTW, she still plays make believe with my snow village! LOL!) Another option is a round (octagon?) baby gate around the tree. I know lots of people who have done this. Have FUN!!!
Dawn wrote: We never baby-proofed really, except obvious safety issues. Never had a playpen. Our homes were never huge when ours were little so I was always close by and could teach them what was okay to touch and not okay.
Jennifer wrote: See if you can borrow a Super Yard from someone! We put one around our tree when Liv was at that age and we're putting it back up this year for Naomi! They also make those round pens for puppies that might work in a similar way if you know someone with something like that.
Carrie wrote: When Z was 15 months, we just put a mini tree up on top of a table, so it wouldn't be an issue.
Here are some things that came to mind when I read the question:
Toddlers are curious. They are learning constantly and testing everything! That is normal! Then you decide to put up a tree in your living room and cover it with beautiful colorful decorations and bright lights! Your little person is going to want to touch it! Can you imagine what it must look like through his eyes?
When my kids were toddlers I had a lot of people tell me not to childproof my home, but to teach them not to touch things. I felt that since learning is a process, it would take time for my toddlers to learn not to touch things. It wouldn't happen over night. So, yes, I worked at teaching them not to touch things they shouldn't touch, but I needed to be sensitive to the fact that they were learning and it would take time. I didn't want to constantly set them up for failure. They are little people!
So, yes, there was some child proofing done for their safety, but there was also training that went on. We can do both. Since the tree is a fascination to them, they are going to want to touch it! So maybe you could touch WITH them...walk with them up to the tree and teach them to touch gently, with one finger. Allow them to enjoy the tree. Since they are in a learning process, be willing to not put dangerous things in a place where they can reach them.
One thing that we have done with our children since they were very small is we allowed them to have their own tree and decorate their rooms for Christmas. I purchased a small artificial tree for each of them, and each year they have picked out an ornament they want. It has been a fun tradition to go to the store each year and let them pick what they want. Now they have a fun collection to take when them when they leave home.
Allowing them to have their own tree can help get their focus off of the main tree. Decorating their tree and room with age appropriate decorations each year is fun, and allows them some freedom to touch some things. When they are grown, as my two are, they have the fun memories of having their own tree and decorations. (Check out these baby friendly Christmas ornaments!)
If you have a real tree, you might want to take this opportunity to allow your little person to learn how to care for the tree by including him in the caring of it. He can help you water it every day. You could buy him his own little watering can (dollar store!) and make it a fun part of the day. Maybe you can make a time each day when you go together to turn on the tree lights, and let him help. Allowing him to be as much a part of things as possible will help to satisfy his curiosity. Part of training is bringing your little person along side of you and allowing him to help you in the chores etc. This can be a great opportunity to work together! You will be teaching and it is fun and allows him to be involved as well!
Keep your little people safe and have fun with them, as they discover all there is to enjoy about Christmas!
Why do I call toddlers "little people?" Well, because that's what they are! People. It can be easy to get caught up in the daily training of little ones, and forget that they are not our projects or inconveniences, but real people! I remember! So, enjoy your little people! Okay?
Keepin' it Real,
Gina has been married to Brian for 24 years. Brian is a faculty member, and they both serve as deans at a Christian college. She and her family live on the college campus and work with the resident students. She has two children, Brianna (age 22) and Caleb (age 19) who are now both in college. In her spare time Gina writes and seeks to encourage women of all ages, through articles and by living life with them as much as possible! You can find her at her personal blog: "Keepin' it Real,"at "MomLife Today" and has written for Faith Life Women, Internet Cafe, and Roomag.
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