Total toddler destruction!
How to set up a real home for your toddler, writes Denise Philip.
Kids couldn’t be bothered with what house they live in or what car you drive. This will however change when they hit their teens and they begin to explore a demonic side of themselves you never thought existed in your rosy cheeked cherub. But, for the moment, don’t worry about finding the very best exorcist. This is the perfect time to enjoy your blissfully ignorant toddler and save some tom.

Toddlers learn by touching, tasting and generally testing everything for its robustness (or lack thereof). Fine motor skills such as tearing, pulling, chewing and throwing (tantrums not excluded) are learnt at this age. It is for this reason that your stuff should be hardy enough to withstand this learning process. So don’t bother competing with the Jones’s right now.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that you should allow your kids to wreck your things. All I’m saying is that it’s not always possible to bubble wrap and hide your stuff from your littlest inhabitant. It is their home too and they are keen to explore. It’s difficult to squash this instinct and quite honestly, it’s not always possible to watch every room (and all its contents) in the house-even if you do have eyes in the back of your head.

As cell phones and laptops always seem to be in the firing line, I thought toy look-alikes would be more appealing. I was sadly mistaken. I still find myself having to use the hairdryer on my cell after my daughter has thrown my cell in the loo (and other watery graves).  Laptops keys are another favourite. Don’t upgrade until your child has had his or her fill. I bought a R99 toy laptop for my daughter but my R9999 laptop received rave reviews instead. I am still missing a few keys which were pulled off and have you ever tried replacing the suckers? I have already lost the removed keys and am told that I will need to replace my keyboard for a pretty sum. So we will just have to do without a few keys and people can think I am illiterate for a while.

Now about that car

You will want leather seats that can be wiped off easily or seat covers at the very least. Hubby and I have always agreed that snacks have no place in the car but try explaining this to your toddler whose first words were “flings” and who has been strapped in to her seat for hours at a time en-route to a family getaway. It’s just not practical. So, we gave in and supplied her with snacks which we thought wouldn’t be too messy. But, give anything to a toddler- the blandest piece of bread- and they will ensure its stickiness within seconds. I have no idea how they do it but it’s a real talent. It’s been six months since our holiday and we are still trying to scrub the sticky dough off the seats and floor mats.


Again, we decided that all food must be eaten away from our nice lounge suite which we saved long and hard for. But, what do you do when your child has just learnt to crawl and the high chair is a source of major irritation? I’ll tell you what you do. You chase them around the house armed with a dribbling spoon because if she doesn’t eat, the house gets woken up at 3am by a hungry tummy. Sleep is more important and some fights are not worth fighting. Anyway, the food trail can be mopped up later (you may want to consider getting a dog to help you with this chore).


Ha ! Save up for the labels and stick to practical clothing for the moment. Buy a good washing machine. A really big one. Because somehow, bibs come off toddlers spotlessly clean but their clothes always come off second best. As for your clothes, wear your oldest ones and be prepared to be decorated (especially when they start learning how to use utensils as weapons of mass destruction).

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that your house should look like a challenge for Neat’s presenter Hellen Buttigieg . I agree that kids need boundaries and it’s up to you to teach them what they are but it’s also important to understand that you are not running an art gallery. You are providing a home for your kids to grow up in. They don’t make messes to irritate you (husbands have this waxed already), they are simply learning. So, take a deep breath and remember to let go a bit and have some fun with your toddler. 

Have a giggle with her when she is trying to eat soup by herself for the first time. Keep a straight face when she spits pureed broccoli across the room (you know YOU would !). It won’t be for long  so keep the wetwipes handy and go with it!

Think of all the money you are saving for that fancy lounge suite. Dream of its comfort as you will be spending a lot of time on it, waiting up for your teen one day.

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