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A Child-proofing Secret

achildproofingsecret2.jpgChild proofing is a continuous process, as my husband and I have learned as our son, now just over two explores more and can problem-solve to reach things that he used to just stare at and wonder about. There’s nothing quite like watching your toddler go to the bathroom to get the step-stool used for hand-washing and teeth-brushing so that he can reach the toy that he wants that he saw sitting on the kitchen island.

Baby proofing and toddler proofing can be a daunting task for many new parents and parents-to-be, especially if you have had started your family well after establishing your career and living the greater portion of your adult life child-free. While welcoming a new baby into the family brings tremendous joy, the idea of having to clear your home of (or put away for now) beloved objects and collectibles may be daunting to some. But don’t worry, while you do need to re-evaluate your space paying special attention to dangerous and poisonous items, you don’t need to get rid of your Hummel or Lladro collections.

My years as a museum-curatorial professional gave me an added bit of relief when it came to child proofing because I knew about the magic of Museum Wax. I’d never have expected to use my museum expertise with my parenting short of making museum trips with my son, but it has come in quite handy, and it meant that the things that my husband and I have collected over the years in our travels (both together and before we were married) didn’t necessarily need to be wrapped in bubble and stored away until that far-off date called “someday.”

So what’s the secret? Museum Wax.

Museum wax is an inert, sticky blend of microcrystalline wax that is safe to use on nearly any flat surface. Available in both gels and wax, it is used in museums (and other professions that rely on display cases) to secure art and artifacts in cases, so that if for example, a case of 18th-century Wedgwood is bumped accidentally, the objects in the case are not destroyed. Museum wax is even rated to withstand earthquakes; is removable, reusable and safe to handle with bare hands.

Of course, getting a container of museum wax, won’t solve all of your child-proofing issues. As you grapple with whether you want your house (or areas of it) to become Romper Room, your own mini museum, or achieve some balance between the two, where your tastes as adults and reflections of your childless adulthood commingle an coexist with parenthood consider that beyond basic safety (and common sense), child proofing can also allow you as a parent to teach your child respect for other people’s things and spaces. One of the important things to do as your child transitions through the stages of crawling, cruising, walking and independent exploration-on-a-mission, is to teach your child what objects are for everyone to use, what objects are for “looking at only” and what objects are okay to touch if Mommy or Daddy is holding them. As your child grows into a toddler, teach your child to ask “May I touch?” and “May I hold…?” before picking something up. Instilling this respect as part of your child proofing actions and vocabulary will also help your child to understand what they can and cannot touch not only in your house but in public and in other people’s houses as well. And here’s the bonus: when you take them for their first museum trip to a museum that’s not a hands-on/child-centered museum…your child will understand why they can’t touch the art.

In the meantime, you now know “the child-proofing secret” and while you’re plugging up the outlets and latching the cabinets, you can stick down the Hummel and Lladro with peace of mind.

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