When Ashlee and I moved out of our first apartment into our first house three years ago, we were overjoyed that we finally had a kitchen we could cook in, let alone turn around in. Our first night in the house, our moving crew of friends deemed the kitchen the perpetual hangout spot in our house, christening it with a rousing beer-pong game. From date nights to holiday dinners to raucous parties, our kitchen has seen it all.
Now, the kitchen island that hosted many tequila shots and Cards-Against-Humanity tournaments is filled with formula containers, water jugs, bottles and a random assortment of fruits to make purees. The spot where we once had a late-night sing-along with old college friends is where the other night Ashlee and I foolishly danced and sang in front of Jackson’s high chair in an attempt to get him to eat. The area where our then-new puppy tore open countless trash bags is where Jackson and I recently sat on the floor making a cake for Ashlee’s birthday.
Baby belongings are certainly commandeering space in each of the rooms of our house. And while Jackson made an immediate mark on our house as soon as he arrived in August, it wasn’t until more recently that we started to actively make changes to keep up with the reality of a home with a 6-month-old in it.
Ashlee’s nephew, who is 3 months older than Jackson, recently visited and gave us a crash course in what’s coming our way. After countless bumped heads, we decided our living room coffee table needed to go (it really only functioned as a footrest anyway). Plus, having more open space in the living room quickly became a must when we saw how mobile Jackson was becoming. The days of him sitting on one of our laps or laying next to us on the couch while we enjoyed dinner were quickly fading. We found ourselves shoving our coffee table off to the side every night so he could have the run of the floor, rolling and rollicking to his heart’s content.
We mounted our television on the wall, knowing that, the second his little body is able to pull itself up, that TV was coming right over. We canned the furniture it was on in favor of a less attractive but much more functional storage-cube set and gleefully set about filling the eight fabric bins with his stuffed animals, teething toys and impressive other assortments of Christmas gifts. A toy box was next because the number of light-up, noisy, vibrating objects a 6-month-old possesses is truly amazing. The more we rearranged to keep up with our new reality, the more we got bit by the Marie Kondo bug and started taking a harder look at the rest of the house. Out went a couch from the basement and piles of clothes from our closet. Clutter in the attic was put on the curb, to be replaced by boxes and boxes of clothes Jackson had outgrown already.
This de-cluttering even extended to our lifestyle: Rather idealistically, we used to think that, after the baby was born, we’d still keep up with our workout routines, perhaps alternating nights going to the gym. That may have happened once in the last six months. So we cancelled our gym memberships and used that money instead to get a cheap elliptical for the house. Actually motivating ourselves to get on it when he’s napping is another story, but we’re getting there!
When Jackson first arrived, every aspect of our life seemed overwhelmed. We couldn’t find bibs. There were constantly bottles crowding our counters waiting to be washed. We couldn’t predict when or where he would fall asleep. The dog kept eating all of his toys (still does). Our house was in chaos for quite some time, but the more we learned the ropes of this new reality, the more we learned to be predictive and proactive. We leave a bib out next to the couch for the next morning’s breakfast and make up several bottles the night before. We can spot the telltale signs that Jackson’s getting tired, which has helped establish structured naps. And, at night, we’ve gotten into a bath/bottle/book bedtime routine to keep things moving on schedule.
We’ve finally learned how to start slowing down, just as he’s speeding up, and the room we’ve made in our house is helping us make room for more memories. After we pick Jackson up from daycare, our beloved kitchen is now the spot where he’s learning how to eat solid foods, a hilarious endeavor that often ends with food on the walls and lots of laughs. Before starting his bedtime routine each night, we often lay out a blanket where our coffee table used to be and enjoy some playtime on the floor with Jackson. Watching him figure out how to grab for toys and roll over is both more entertaining and enriching than I ever would have imagined.
Getting our house and our routines in order has given us a front-row seat to the growth Jackson’s experiencing every day. Our house looks quite different than it did six months ago, but the real changes aren’t in what these rooms look like, but rather the transformation of the memories we’re making in them — a process that is gradually helping us turn our house into a home for Jackson.