A colleague of mine lays down the law to his baby-happy friends. If you have one, he says, you can’t see me for two years.
He pulls no punches in his efforts to protect himself, and his home, from the dirty, sticky, bundles of joy that -“ he thinks -“ exist just to set fire to his blinds and throw up on his French polish.
Despite the potential mess that kids can make in your home, it’s not really possible to enforce such restrictive measures.
With something of a baby boom happening in our own community as well as old friends, relatives, neighbours and single people having lots of babies, it’s hard to tell everyone to stay away. Luckily, there are a few simple things everyone can do around the home to make it a bit less stressful when the kids come to visit.
First, try not to stress. Yes, babies spew and poo, but remember that most liquids and solids that come out of the human body are water-soluble and unlikely to stain even the most delicate of white couches.
If there is a piece of furniture that really can’t handle a potential splash of bodily fluid, try and corral mothers, fathers and babies to another part of the house.
Second, understand that children have height limits. When they reach the walking age, anything below the level of their outstretched hands is fair game. Yes, little kids do stuff sandwiches into VCRs and fill expensive handbags up with juice, given the chance.
They also find anything on the ground and put it in their mouth. It’s probably a good idea to make sure there are no lingering choke-hazards stuck under your bed.
Throw your clean surfaces to the wind for a couple of hours, and put things up a little higher if you think children won’t mix well with them.
Third, be careful about your surrounds. You might be unlikely to fall in the fishpond even if you have been to Inquisition and not gone home for two days.
It’s incredible the things little children can do. Back in the old days, apparently before people were aware of things like drowning, my sister rescued me from a wading pool.
I was one, and managed to get my head accidentally submerged in about 10 centimetres of water. Of course, today’s parents are unlikely to let their little prince or princess out of sight for even a second, but it pays to be aware nonetheless.
A quick whip-round of the house before the family visit can make all the difference to your sanity, your furnishings and the health and safety of your visitors.
And remember, if it gets too much, you can always suggest a trip to the park.