Childproofing For The Childless

Ok, I wasn’t going to write about this. I was going to be done with the CF stuff for a minute and work on the other articles that I’ve been neglecting. But god damn it, is this overly kid-obsessed society annoying! I saw an article on Jezebel some time back, called Childproofing For The Childless, and boy, was it filled with parental entitlement and condescension for childfree people. Whatever, I let it go. Then I read another article recently on Retail Me Not Insider that was at least it’s bad and went by the title of Childproofing Tips for the Childless. The message of which was, to me, ‘not only are guests with kids entitled to how you arrange your home, but also to how you spend your money.’

The first article is completely ridiculous. Apparently, non-parents have very messy homes in which we habitually leave poisons and drugs out in the open. Oh, and we like to decorate with porn (seriously, wtf?). Holy shit, does this author have any childless/free friends? If she does, I doubt that their homes are anything like what she describes or else she sorely needs to reexamine who she chooses to hang out with. I don’t even have kids and I certainly wouldn’t visit some who seriously lives in a dump carpeted with broken glass, dirty needles, and dildos. Yeah, I actually found Jezebel’s article about childproofing insulting to childfree people for the advice the author finds necessary to give. We’re all a bunch of drug-addled, sex-addicted, slobs, apparently.

All I know is that my home hasn’t tried to kill me yet. Nobody in their right mind just leaves the floor littered with sharp objects and poisons. There’s no gaping hole in my floor over a tiger pit. My home is not dangerous. If things like the contents of my cupboards, the things on my shelves, or my electrical outlets are any threat at all to a child (or vice versa) that means that the parent has failed, not me.

Oh, and as for the advice about locking my animal in another room, FUCK OFF! My dog lives here. This is her home. The kid’s the guest. If anything, I’d be more inclined to shut the kid down in a separated room. That would save me the hassle of having to childproof the rest of the house, anyway. But as long as the kid in question is raised at least as well as my dog, that won’t be necessary.

While the first article was all about childproofing on short notice, the second one is about childproofing way in advance, just in case. And by “childproofing,” it means buying tons of expensive kindercrap, despite the fact that I have no kids, only some of which actually has anything to do with childproofing at all. The following is the list of demands:

  • The North State Superyard XT Portable Playard – $49.50, or Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard -$91.54
  • Chicco Caddy’s Hook On High Chair – $37.99, or Fisher-Price Space Saver High Chair- $59.99
  • Safety First Infant-to-Toddler Tub – $11.99
  • Just Kidz Yellow Duckie -$6.40 (a child-proofing must? Really?)
  • ProGrade Dual Action Outlet Protector – $3.99
  • KidCo Auto Close Center Gateway – $84.95
  • Corner cushions – $10.49

If one follows the shopping list, they can expect to pay between $205.31 and $269.35. Um, that’s a lot for someone who actually has kids to spend on these things. I’m guessing most parents except for the very wasteful went for more economical alternatives on a number of these things, if they felt any were necessary to buy at all.. But to expect someone who doesn’t even have kids to shell out this much just in case a parent decides to grace them with their kids’ presence? Fuck. That.

I’m noticing that most of these items are easily portable. If any parent really felt they absolutely needed to have these things for their visit, they could easily purchase the items themselves and bring them with when they visit. Expecting a host to spend this much money on junk for a guest is just insane and goes far beyond reasonable expectations of hospitality. Hell, part of the reason a lot of us don’t have kids is because we don’t want to deal with kid-related expenses such as these, and certainly don’t want this crap in our homes.

The article, when making these demands, explains that most women don’t have the luxury of a nanny and lacking these things at your home, these poor mothers would have to scurry back to their own homes to tend to the baby. Um, I’m pretty sure a babysitter would cost a lot less than $200!

Both of these articles assume that the child will be allowed to explore the host’s home, and do so without the attention of the parent. Um, fuck no. If the kid is young enough that that it’s a real danger to my home or vice versa, it’s staying in it’s carrier or the parent’s lap for the visit, or will be otherwise secured. It will not be granted free access to roam my house, and certainly won’t be left unattended by the parent for a minute. Older children, ones who aren’t likely to break anything or find some way to harm themselves will be told which portions of the house are acceptable to visit (my bedroom, for instance, is ALWAYS off-limits. Even my boyfriend can’t come in without permission, and he lives here!) For such children, only the occasional check-in would likely be necessary.

But the fail goes on. I’ll ignore that they assume that children are even welcome in the home at all (some people don’t allow kids in general, kids under a certain age, or specific kids for various reasons,) as that’s the scenario being addressed. I’ll even ignore that it expects the host to care about childproofing at all. What these articles fail to do is address the responsibilities of the parents. All of this childproofing is completely unnecessary if the parent guest just acts like a responsible parent. If I went to the home of a non-dog-owner, I wouldn’t expect the place to be dog-proofed, stock dogfood and dishes, and I sure as hell wouldn’t expect the host to allow me to just let my dog wander free in their house without me still taking responsibility for watching it. No. Fucking. Way.

I have yet to see an article that addresses the issue of a parent with a small kid visiting a childfree person’s house that went like this:

Don’t bring your kid unless you know that they’re welcome. If you have to, arrange for a sitter. If you’re not willing to cut the umbilical chord for a few hours, politely decline the invitation. Consider having the meeting at your own home.

If the child is welcome, be aware that you, not your host, are the one who is responsible for it. It is your responsibility to bring all items that you believe the child will need during the visit, it is your responsibility to watch the child and keep it under control and out of trouble, and it is your responsibility to protect your host’s home from your child..

If you expect a long visit and will be needing supplies, bring them. There is no reason to expect someone without kids to keep a high-chair or a crib around. Be sure to bring adequate food, toys, and diapers, as well as anything else you might need. Be sure to take all of these things with you when you leave. As for dirty diapers, dispose of them in an outside bin or dumpster, not inside the house.

Manners will be expected. Do try to keep your child under control and quiet, or, if you can’t, consider taking them home. Closely watch any interactions between your kid and your host’s pet to ensure that the the kid handles them properly. Be sure to clean up any messes your child might make. Be courteous.

Remember that your going into someone else’s home, do not expect it to be completely baby-proof beyond being clean. If you don’t like minding your own child, don’t like the layout of your host’s home, or don’t like your host’s display items – simply leave. Don’t expect the home to be rearranged for the arrival of yourself and your kid for short visits.

Nor have I ever seen a babyproofing article that went like this:

1. Lock your doors.

2. Use birth control.

DONE!

Edit: As for childproofing, I only take care of basic safety concerns. Right now, I’m working on getting a cover for my basement’s fire escape as, outside, it’s a hole in the ground. It’s not a pressing concern as most people are intelligent enough to avoid falling in, but I do still see accidents as a possibility. What I’m not going to do though is pad every corner, cover every electrical outlet, or install cumbersome baby-gates when no children live here. As for buying things, I might choose to buy a few toys, just to be nice, but I don’t feel that I should be required or expected to. Nor am I buying any of that expensive baby stuff recommended in the second article. I might purchase a few snacks and juices for a kid prior to an expected visit, just as I would make an effort to have refreshments prepared for any other guest. That’s it. I’m inviting guests over, not starting a nursery.

Posted on 2011/10/25, in childfree, Humanism and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. My house is blind-cat-proofed, so we try to keep sharp corners to a minimum for her sake. But no way am I redecorating just to host a dinner for someone with kids. Fortunately, I don’t know any actual parents who would expect me to. I haven’t had too many people with young kids over, but they’ve been accompanied by thoughtful, respectful parents (people I like!), and we really haven’t had any issues. The kids were high energy but well-behaved, handled things carefully, were gentle with my cat, and it was fine. I don’t think I even made any attempt to put away sharp things.

    I dunno, I think the parents who do have such outrageous expectations of visiting the homes of people without kids are a distinct minority. Or they only socialize with other parents. I’m fine with either possibility. :-)

    • Julie Was Here

      Truthfully, I’ve never seen such demanding parents in real life either. I expect that any who made the demands of their hosts that the article-writers did would be swiftly uninvited.

      I’m responding to the articles.

      Good on you for taking care of a special needs feline. I hate seeing animals with disabilities put down. I’m glad yours has a loving home with you.

    • Hi Jennifer- My cat just went blind due to detached retinas and I am trying to protect him from walking into corners. What did you find worked the best? I am taping bubble wrap around the corners, didn’t know if you had used something better. So heart-breaking to watch them walk into things. Thanks

  2. Julie, great comments. Agree 100%. (I’m KMan on Bratfree.)

    Jennifer, my hat is off to you for taking care of a blind kitty too. My late mom, late stepdad, and I have taken care of a couple blind ones ourselves over the years. I’m glad we could and did.

  3. Methinks whoever wrote these articles was out of things to say about parenting. That HAS to be it. Right?

    • Julie Was Here

      How much could there possibly be to say about parenting that would be new, anyway?

  4. Oh, you would LIKE to think such asshole breeders don’t exist, but they do. I’ll give you one; my entitlement-minded Brother-in-Law. Since we weren’t interested in making the trek to worship his new loaf, he kindly informed us that he would come to see us…and he gave us a list of things to buy, including but not limited to:

    - baby gates for all the stairs in our house

    - a “suitable” place for the loaf to sleep in the guest room with them (i.e. a bassinet or portable crib)

    - a car seat for our vehicle since he wasn’t getting a rental car

    - a high chair

    - some toys to keep the loaf occupied

    He was pissed off when the Mister told him he would be better off staying at the hotel down the road because they provided cribs upon request and had elevators instead of stairs. LOL! It shouldn’t be a surprise that dumb-ass Brother-in-Law still hasn’t visited our home.

    I don’t “childproof” my home. If you visit me, your kids better damn will be “houseproofed” because I don’t have kids. Deal with it, or stay home. No skin off my nose! I have open shelving with liquor on it. I have nice antiques and furniture. I’m not hiring a truck to move all those things from my home just so you can grace me with your kid’s presence.

    • Julie Was Here

      Wow, your BIL needs a dose of reality. Good on you for not caving to his insane demands.

  5. Well, perhaps, my childed friends shall follow these guidelines just in case I decide to swing by for a visit:

    1. have a variety of beverages available, including brewed iced tea, a good lager, and a nice cabernet;
    2. have a nice cd selection so that we can chat with soft music in the background;
    3. I love good soaps, lotions, and fluffy towels in the poweder room; and
    4. a nicely landscaped yard to enjoy from the patio or deck which has thick cushions on its oversized chaise lounge.

  6. first off, I don’t mind people choosing not to have kids. But the attitude of snarkiness towards people who have children is a bit hypocritical. Many people complain about how people with kids don’t understand people who choose not to have kids but really it goes both ways. Just because you chose not to have kids doesn’t make you better than those that do.
    and childfreechic, babies are not loafs even if you choose not to have one. They do have personalities… some more obvious than others
    That being said the articles are ridiculous. I don’t even have a house up to muster on my childproofing. It does remind me of a story though. My friend came over for a visit and the day before she visited she mentioned how she only took her son to places that had kids because he got into everything (just under 2). My daughter is two months younger than him and well, I never thought anything of her statement until she came over. Holy, man. That child touched everything and I realized just how unsafe my home was. There were nicknacks and cupboards that could be opened. And the toilet seat wasn’t clamped shut. I honestly was very glad to see her go and gave my daughter a big hug after. I thought my daughter was a handful but she seemed pretty darned well behaved after that.

    If I take my daughter anywhere that doesn’t have kids I

    1. keep an eye on her at all times
    2. bring the things I need
    3. make sure it is okay with the person to have a child around
    4. do not expect baby proofing!

    • Julie Was Here

      First off, I don’t care one iota what a stranger does and doesn’t mind about how I live my life when they are not affected.

      Just what “attitude of snarkiness towards people who have children” are you referring to? I don’t deny that I have an attitude of snarkiness about everything, as is my lovely sarcastic personality. But I don’t think that I’ve been unkind towards people who have children. Not in this article, anyway. My criticisms have been of the articles, and the entitlement-minded attitude in which they were written. The only reason anyone aught to be offended when being told that the world doesn’t revolve around their kids aught to be one who thinks that the world does revolve around their kids.

      You don’t seem to agree with the articles, or the attitude in which they were written, so what, exactly, is the problem?

  7. I have a child free home. I did spend the extra money though for when friends with kids come over and bought a very nice kennel. I even splurged and got cedar chips to line the bottom instead of old shredded newspapers!

    • Julie Was Here

      I don’t feel the need to childproof my home. It’s not like my house is particularly dangerous or anything. I figure that if my walls, tables, stairs, and electrical outlets are a danger to someone’s kid, which they really shouldn’t be, than the parent should mind their kid rather than expect me to hire a contractor to rebuild my house into a safe, plastic, playground just for their visit.

  8. Childfree Woman

    The maddest I ever got at my husband in all our years of marriage was his letting one of my little scumbag first cousins use MY bathroom while I was at work. I would NOT have let my aunt and them in our house at all — they hadn’t been invited by, just dropped by to borrow the bathroom when a child-friendly business was just up the street, firmly explained that to him for future reference. Reminded him they were the reason the wedding was childfree. Other people we knew had decent children.

    • Julie Was Here

      WTF? Don’t they have a bathroom in their house? Where the fuck are they going where they’re no where near their own bathroom, or any other public bathroom?

  9. You said it! I also tell my friends with disabilities to shut up. Can’t get up my front steps cuz you are in a wheelchair? You should have thought of that before you lost the ability to walk! Have allergies? I don’t see why I need to go out of my way to make sure my house doesn’t have anything that can kill you. People should be like me or go away forever.

    • Julie Was Here

      Because being a child or parent is a disability, right? Because parents shouldn’t be expected to teach their kids how to behave, right? Because parents shouldn’t be expected to watch their kids if they’re too young to be realistically expected to behave, right? Because behavior is totally the same as physical impairment, right? Because my home is public property and has to be accessible to everyone who might want to come in, regardless of whether or not I choose to invite them, right? Because I should have to spend my money buying enough equipment to make a damned nursery just in case anyone wants to bring a baby over, right?

      Thanks for demonstrating the exact type of insane, natalism-worshipping entitlement that I was pointing out in my article.

  10. Yeah. The only toys I keep in my house are the kind that children aren’t to play with/vibrate. Oh, and those My Little Pony happy meal toys but those are MINE damnit!

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