We were having a conversation with another couple who were expecting their first child. They mentioned that they just finished painting their nursery and so now it’s ready to go!
“That’s cute,” I said.
They assumed this meant I was interested in the inner workings of their nursery organizational system and proceeded to share their nursery layout with me.
“The diapers go in the rustic farmhouse dresser in the southwest corner, the crib goes opposite that, and the organic baby wipes get stacked under the crib. We have a changing table in northeast corner and the toys are arranged according to the Dewey Decimal System.”
I groaned inside. This couple had a lot to learn. Janice and I have tediously tested various baby raising techniques, studiously took notes, and have nailed down several scientific methods for setting up a nursery. Since I’m not particularly fond of mega preachers and pretentious best selling authors, I will avoid selling my wisdom for the vast sums of money it’s worth and instead give it away for free. You’re welcome!
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We have an open concept nursery, meaning components of the nursery are spread out over the entire house. I know this goes against the grain of the obnoxiously organized who need to put things in their proper place; The car goes in the garage, the dishes go in the cupboards, the toys go in the toy box, clothes go on a hanger. So of course I need a nursery for the baby. Where else would I put it? But before you fall prey to cultural pressure and try to delegate your baby paraphernalia to one room, slap yourself and listen up. Let me enlighten you to a better way.
I know that in the past some people have been tempted to think that our house is a bit unorganized but it’s actually genius at work.
The obvious flaw in having your nursery confined to a particular room is that babies poop all the time and wherever they want. This means that when you’re in the living room and you need a diaper, you have to walk the whole way to the nursery with a stinky baby who is possibly leaking hazardous waste all over your clothing. Maybe you like it when your shirt smells of baby excrement but I’ve found I dislike it. That’s just my preference though, I don’t want to assume your likes or dislikes. My solution is to keep small mountains of diapers in the kitchen, in the bathroom, on the coffee table, under the TV, etc. This way diapers are only an arm’s length away and diaper changes happen efficiently and with minimal effort.
Also don’t bother hiding your stacks of diapers for the sake of avoiding “clutter.” When a baby’s diaper has reached maximum occupancy, it tends to start leaking at the seams. This means you transport the baby using only two fingers of each hand and extending your arms fully away from your body. Now, if you hide the diapers on a low shelf behind a fancy rustic cabinet door in a distant corner of the house, you won’t be able to grab a diaper and hold a baby simultaneously. This will result in you pacing in circles in the nursery, grimacing and trying to find the least valuable thing you can lay your baby on so you have a free hand to grab a diaper. This is another lesson! Don’t have valuable things once you have children.
I should mention that no matter how handy the diapers may be, the wet wipes will always be out in the car or in your wife’s diaper bag which is also out in the car.
Another instinct for nesting mothers is to carefully position their bassinet in a corner of the nursery with whimsical little doodads hanging above it. Expecting parents can’t wait to wrap their innocent, slumbering infant in this cocoon of sweet dreams, fluffy sleepers, and humming lullabies. Of course, the flaw in this design is that the distance between the parent’s bed and the nursery will have to be traveled hundreds of times per night. Within two days the bassinet will be relocated within an arm’s length of the parent’s bed. Soothing your baby will involve flopping an arm into the bassinet and weakly moving your fingers in rhythm with whatever your humming into your pillow.
You may find that flopping your arm into the bassinet fails to produce the silence you crave at 3 AM. This means you may have to use a rocking chair to help soothe your emotional bundle of joy. The problem is that you have to walk the whole way to the nursery because you foolishly put your rocking chair beside that spot where your bassinet used to be. You should have put your rocking chair as close to your bedroom as possible!
So, to summarize, you don’t really need a nursery whatsoever.
But what about a changing table? Surely I need a place where I can change my baby! That may be true at first. First time parents carefully lay everything out, measure clearances, analyze rash percentages, and take notes of frequency and consistency. But after a week or so you’ve changed diapers several hundred times. You can smell a change in consistency from several rooms over. You can change a diaper blindfolded and hanging upside down from the rafters in the garage. Why are you hanging upside down from the rafters in the garage? You have kids now, anything is possible. You can change a diaper while texting a friend and jogging on the treadmill. You really don’t need a changing table although it is a nice horizontal surface to store things on, such as laundry that never made it into the rustic farmhouse dresser because you got distracted by a leaking baby.
Really, all you need with the advent of a baby is a bigger closet to store everything in. And probably a Grandma or two to babysit.
Life is pretty simple. We just make it complicated.