Modern family life is messy. Especially when babies and pets are involved.
No matter how many dreamy Magnolia Homes photos we pin or sparkling kitchen scenes we like on Instagram, real life never seems to stack up against the pretty images.
That’s because real life doesn’t exist on a Pinterest board or within that square frame. It exists in an imperfect, lived-in home. And it usually involves pet hair, food-crusted plates, and at least one dirty diaper somewhere in the vicinity.
Here are 7 smart tips to comfortably share your home with pets and kids:
Embrace functional decor
Gone are the days where white sofas and cream dresses remain pristine. (Sorry ‘bout it.) But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice personal style. It just means you need to approach home decor creatively. For example...
Candles are lovely but not exactly the safest option with babies and pets around. Swap in some twinkle lights or flameless candles to add the same warm ambiance without the fire hazard.
Invest in simple-but-beautiful designs for your pet products. Stylish canisters to store your pet food, a modern leather leash that’s hung on the wall, or a pet bed that matches your color scheme provides easy access to the pet products you use every day without being an eyesore.
For cat owners with kids, consider a hidden litter box. Once the baby starts crawling, an open litter box on the floor is trouble waiting to happen. Plus, your cat will appreciate the privacy from prying kiddo fingers. You can purchase a hidden litter box or DIY one (here’s a great tutorial) if you’re handy.
Green up your cleaning
With babies, cats, and dogs crawling around on the floor, you may want to avoid cleaners with potentially harmful ingredients. A safe guideline to follow is: if it’s not safe to eat, it’s not safe to clean with.
White vinegar mixed with water is an amazing natural surface cleaner. A paste of baking soda mixed with water works wonders to clean the oven or polish stainless steel appliances.
Know which foods you can (and can’t) share
The nostalgic scene of kids feeding their broccoli to the family dog is cute and all. But the reality isn’t so adorbs: some healthy human foods are deadly to animals.
Bone up (no pun intended) on which human foods are unsafe for pets. Make sure older kids know not to share these foods and keep a watchful eye so little ones don’t accidentally poison Fido. Here’s a great post from the ASPCA on toxic foods to avoid.
Your crawling baby will also probably eat a dog or cat kibble along the way, so be knowledgeable about what’s in your pet’s food. It might be a good time to switch to an all-natural option so you won’t have an anxiety attack if your baby sneaks a bite.
Incorporate pet-free (and baby-free) zones
While you can be one big, happy family in your home, it’s important to have some areas that are pet- and baby-free.
Keep the crib pet-free. This is your baby’s home, spending well over half of their early days in the crib. The height of the crib makes it easy to keep dogs out, while netting that covers the crib is effective for cats who love to jump.
Alternatively, create a space where the baby’s not allowed so your pet can escape if he/she needs to. Pets like to find safe places to rest and they’re comforted by quiet nooks. Consider making the dog’s bed or cat’s litter box baby-free zones.
Keep it smelling fresh
A beautiful home doesn’t stop with the eyes. Just because you’re sharing your home with messy babies and pets doesn’t mean it needs to smell like you do.
When accidents happen (for cats, dogs, OR baby humans,) white vinegar is your deodorizing best friend. Mix 50% vinegar and 50% water in a spray bottle and douse the accident spot as soon as you discover it. (You can also add some vinegar to your laundry for extra odor-eliminating power!)
Baking soda is another natural odor eater. Dust baking soda into the litter box to minimize smells or sprinkle it onto upholstery or carpets and vacuum to remove stinky odors.
And, of course, you can use Dooli™ products to keep your home smelling fresh! Our 7-layer odor-barrier bags keep smells where they belong — far away from noses. Dooli™ bags are a perfect fit for the Diaper Genie® and Litter Genie® Compatible Bag Adapters, and are laboratory tested to keep stinky odors contained.
Get pets ready to share their home
If you’re bringing a baby into your home for the first time, it’s smart to get your pets ready for the new addition.
Bring in new furniture early so pets have time to get used to it in the home. Leave baby clothes, blankets, and toys out in common areas. Start bringing a baby stroller on walks with your dog.
Get pets used to the sounds and smells, too. Play a CD of baby noises regularly so pets become familiar with the sound. Expose them to new baby smells, like lotions or bubble baths that you’ll be using regularly.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Modern moms juggling kids, pets, AND a job are embracing the reality that they can’t do it all alone. We’re fans of bringing in the big guns (aka hired help) to support you in creating a livable home, when your budget allows.
Hiring a cleaning person to freshen up your house helps pick up the slack during especially busy periods. Bringing someone in even once a month can make a big difference to the look and feel of your home.
Exercise is critical for a balanced pet. A dog walker can help your pooch get out extra energy so he/she will be calm and relaxed for snuggle time with the family.
Use an app like TaskRabbit to find great support in your area that fits into your budget.
If the key to happiness is learning to dance in the rain, the key to mom-sanity is learning to live in the mess.
Your home may not be as stunning as your Pinterest boards. But with these tips, it can still be a warm, cozy place to make memories with your growing family.
And when all else fails, lint brushes. :)
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