The Dirty Side of Decorating a Nursery (Real Life Tips from a Real Life Mom)
Decorating a nursery is such a lovely experience. So full of hope, so full of excitement around creating the perfectly soothing and pleasant environment for the little one you’re growing. Although it can be a bit overwhelming – it always is when you are trying to make something perfectly perfect – I do always love this part of baby prep.
A few weeks after your baby is born the serene perfectly perfect room usually gets used for things you may never have imagined! Or at least not imagined to this extent and reality sets in! Those lovely little wall decals are covered in various bodily fluids, the carefully folded little onesies are hastily piled into the drawers (bravo if you manage to keep the socks as pairs) and there is a permanent groove in the shape of my bottom on the glider from the hours spent rocking and feeding my babe and occasionally catching a nap or two (or five!) myself.
As I was busy cleaning up a bit of a diaper explosion from Bridget on the gorgeous crochet rug I have in Vivienne’s nursery, and the vomit from her chair that erupted after I tried to get her to take the antibiotics we had been prescribed (those pink bubble gum flavors don’t fool her!), I thought to myself, sitting there in that strangely familiar position (yes, I’ve been on my hands and knees scrubbing poop and vomit off furniture many, many, many times before!), that someone should make a list of decorating tips that address the realities of caring for a baby. Here are my favorite tips; I would love to hear yours in the comments:
(1) Crochet is easier to clean than you think.
Believe me, I was as surprised at this as I’m sure you are! But I learned from the previously mentioned diaper “incident” that it is surprisingly easy to get little bits of poo and baby spit-up out of a well-made crochet rug. The grooves keep the mess from spreading and hide any stains, even if you choose a light color. Just make sure it’s of the oatmeal variety rather than Snow White.
Yes, leather is more expensive than other upholstery when it comes to gliders or recliners for nursing and feeding. But you will be happy that you made the investment when you can simply wipe off spilled breast milk and spit-up, rather than scrubbing that lovely upholstery you chose for your rocker during the 8th month of pregnancy and, then, sitting on a wet seat as your cleaning efforts dry (or, worse, just sitting on the stains you are too tired to try and clean!).
(3) Patterned sheets and changing pad covers hide a multitude of sins.
No matter how careful you are when changing your baby, chances are that your changing pad cover will occasionally (or, let’s be honest, frequently) have smudges and spots of various bodily fluids and diaper creams. And those spots don’t always come out in the wash. If you use patterned sheets and changing pad covers, those little stains will blend right in, and the sheets or covers will live to see another day! (And if you use the camouflage to delay changing a sheet or a cover that has a few unpleasant spots? We won’t judge!). I have also discovered chamois fabrics allow fluids to be wiped right off, in comparison to cottons and twills. They do tend to be polyester, though, so decide what is more important to you: 100 percent cotton or easy cleaning.
(4) Lavender is a gorgeous decoration tool that keeps things fresh.
I learned this tip when I was putting Vivi’s nursery together. Even if you buy a heavy duty diaper pail, there is no escaping the fact that a pile of messy diapers will quickly leave your nursery smelling less than fresh. But who has the time to keep up live flower bouquets that are costly and may even cause allergies? As an alternative, keep a vase filled with dried lavender near the changing area. It will serve as a gorgeous, natural air freshener and it doesn’t require changing. Whatever you do, though, don’t use the plug-in oils, as they pose a dangerous fire hazard.
(5) Glossy paint is a must.
I am always surprised at how much ends up on the walls in a child’s nursery. Go for glossy paint and the clean-up will be infinitely easier!
6) Hanging canopies and tents are your secret clean-up weapon.
Canopies and tents are gorgeous and, these days, come in so many beautiful colors and prints. They are also so much fun for games of peek-a-boo and, then as your child grows older, for night time stories and pirate or princess tea parties! They also work perfectly for keeping a nursery neat because, when you don’t have the energy to clean up, they can be used to hide all the stuffed animals, books laying around and any other things you just don’t know where to put!
7) Mobile distractions means less changing table dissatisfaction!
Babies squirm, it’s a fact. And when they squirm it is much more likely that the contents of their diaper will end up on you, on the floor and all over the table. In addition to strapping them in and keeping your hands on them to prevent a fall, hang a mobile from the ceiling above the changing table to keep them entertained. Remember, the younger they are the closer the range needs to be.
And indeed when you do feel up to cleaning that nursery, try and clean from the eyes of child. That’s right: get on your knees and survey the room and then you’ll see what really needs to be cleaned . It always shocks me how clean the room seemed from my vantage but then when we play on the floor I suddenly notice the milk between the crib slats (how, I don’t know, because I’ve certainly never climbed in there to feed a baby), to grubby little fingerprints along the walls!
But most of all, let go – even if just a little. Kids are messy but it’s part of their development as they learn and explore.