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The Nursery, The Deathtrap or How I Made My Son’s Room Adorably Dangerous

When I was pregnant, I discovered three things: the peanut butter and pickle sandwich, the inside of my belly button, and HGTV. The last in this nonsensical trinity became an absolute obsession. When it was time to think about the nursery, I told myself to be practical—conservative even—but before long, I had mutated into a hormonal beast wielding fabric swatches and a level. Understandably, it was a bit of a fuzzy time for me (in more ways than one), but I actually remember referring to the nursery as  “my little Sistine Chapel” which is just kind of scary. And sad. It turned out beautifully, and in the last month of my pregnancy, there was nothing that pleased me more than showing it off to any and all houseguests. (Thanks for indulging me, HVAC guy!) However, if you look a little closer (and it kills me to say this), I made some pretty colossal (even dangerous( mistakes in designing baby Wilder’s abode.

This is Wilder’s nursery. It’s an Americana masterpiece, am I right?!

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I still get a little bit boast-y and weird when I look at it. I know, it’s hard to believe, how could there be even the slightest flaw in my glorious magnum opus? Come along, friends, and I’ll show you.

The first stop on our tour is the crib. It is a sturdy fortress of baby slumber, is it not?! Fine craftsmanship indeed!

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If you look just above the crib, you’ll notice a giant mural of a bronco going positively “buck wild” in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. I commissioned my super-talented artist mother to paint it, and it is downright gorgeous, but it never occurred to me that dropping my colicky baby onto the set of “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” and expecting him to nap a mere 4 days postpartum might be asking a little bit much. I would lay him down, and he would stare upwards, gums agape at the many mustang-ed splendor directly above him. After napless weeks and months passed, it became clear to me that my child might have OD’d on the ol’ “Giddy Up!” and that maybe—just maybe—I ought to have tried to create an atmosphere with fewer bells and pistols.

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Think before you paint, Mom and Pop. While bright colors, elaborate patterns, and blinky gadgets might be fine and dandy in YOUR boudoir, there’s a good chance they might over-stimulate your infant. Aim to create a tranquil environment for your kiddo that encourages sleep and is free of unnecessary distractions. That means you might want to nix the mobile too.

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Speaking of overstimulation, you might consider moving baby’s crib away from the light switch as well. Take it from me as this is our current naptime battle.

 Lesson Learned:
Downer Alert: Your baby’s room should be kind of blah. I’m not talking a couple bunks and a chamber pot, but it should be relatively peaceful. You don’t need to incorporate All! The! Patterns! into your nursery décor. Over stimulation is the enemy.


And next…

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Oh chair, where did I go wrong? When I first saw you standing in the Babies R Us showroom with that silly little wiggle of yours, gliding back and forth, I knew right then I wanted to take you home and keep you forever. “Yes” I told myself, eyes glassy with consumer satisfaction as I patted your cushions, the color of fake snow, “This one will do quite nicely!”

But, chair, I was so wrong. I should have known better, but the mere iota of logic I had left was floundering in a sea of estrogen. And so, now, almost two years later, you sit in the corner, humiliated and covered in mystery stains that cause the steam cleaner to audibly laughs any time I even attempt to clean you.

Parents-to-be, if anybody can understand the desire to buy your child a flotaki rug the exact  color of a newborn lamb, it’s me. I love white and all of its eggshell and ivory cousins but they do not belong anywhere near you and the rainbow of bodily fluids your sweet little baby will project during the first year.

Lesson Learned:
White is for the marriage, not the baby carriage.

And now, to the window coverings…

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Most of the time, I do the right thing. Other times, I do that thing where I spend $200 importing faux vintage cowboy wallpaper from the UK instead of buying blackout curtains to keep my baby’s nursery sleepably dark.

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You might wonder exactly what it is that you’re looking at here. We’ve got some flimsy eight-dollar curtains covering two (that’s right, TWO) layers of hastily strung paper blinds. They are held together in no fewer than three spots with scotch tape and cast a diabolical red glow over the entire room when the sun hits them. At first, I told my husband the hellish aura was “womblike.” I lied.

What I like to pretend was a simple case of misappropriated funds was really me sacrificing the health of my baby’s sleep environment for a bunch of paper cowboys bounding about in perfect, symmetrical unison. Because they were cute. If only I’d known then how much cuter a baby napping peacefully in a dark room was.

When it comes to buying for your nursery, don’t ever forgo a practical need for whimsical want. It might mean a few less smocked outfits and a few more outlet covers, but you’d be surprised how easily you can live without the photos of your tot crying in a seersucker potato sack.

Lesson Learned:
Unless you’re positively rolling in the dough, be sure to prioritize the things that you baby actually needs when making your budget—not that cute (useless) trinket you saw the model holding in the Anthropologie catalogue.

Also, never underestimate the importance of darkness (tagline for the next Batman movie? Maybe? Call me, Affleck, let’s talk!) Jill Spivak, author of the popular children’s sleep bible The Sleepeasy Solution recommends that baby sleep in a near pitch black room, on a scale of 1-10, the room should be an 8-9.

Moving on…

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This is Wilder’s fireman’s pole. Don’t worry, I thought it was a floor lamp too, but as soon as my son became mobile, its myriad of other terrifying functions (including, but not limited to, lasso and jousting lance) became apparent to me. This lamp has absolutely no business in a baby’s room. I mean, I might as well have left a samurai sword and some easy strike matches in the corner. The base is rickety, the cord is about 15 miles long, and it houses a glass bulb under that crooked shade which shatters quite beautifully when tipped over, I’m speaking from experience. Sure, the extra lighting might’ve helped keep airborne poop out of my bangs during those late night diaper changes, but for all the heart stopping near accidents it has caused, it was hardly worth it.

As if it wasn’t wobbly enough, you can see that we stuck our baby monitor up there for extra discombobulation.

Lesson Learned:
Be sure to secure any and all lamps, furniture, and precarious cordage within baby’s reach to the wall. Better yet, keep any extra furniture or light that you don’t need out of the room entirely.

Last but not least, the wall hangings

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About four times a year, when everyone is sleeping and the house is still, we hear something that sounds like a gong making love to a car wreck. I shoot out of bed, immediately assuming there is a Wes Craven character trying to steal my firstborn child, fling open the nursery door, and find one of the delightful stars pictured above lying clumsily on the floor, more often than not with the lamp/stuffed animal/humidifier it squired along on its deafening collapse. And yes, as if there were any hint of doubt in your mind, I hung these puppies myself with those nifty little stick on hooks. I just thought it was so wonderful that I could proudly display my Wild West décor and not muck up the walls.

You’d think after 9 months of HGTV, I’d have the lady cajones to drill a stinking hole in the wall, but NOPE! Trust me, pals, if you’re going to hang 15lbs of pointy metal in your infant’s room, you’re going to want more than a sticker to keep it from plummeting to the ground.

Lesson Learned:
Make sure all wall hangings are firmly hung (and I mean actually hung, with some kind of nail-ish doodad and not a sticker). Gals, if you’re reading this, you’ve probably subjected your body to the hormone manipulating, hip popping, boob razing miracle that is pregnancy. Let’s not worry so much about treating our walls preciously. Drill the hole, hang the thing, and sleep soundly.

And now, I’m exhausted.

Shocking isn’t it? How can there be so much wrong with something so adorable!? Though it has been deeply painful for me, I hope this tour of nursery fails has been at least somewhat useful for you and your bump. I’m not suggesting you have absolutely no fun decorating your nursery, but maybe you ought to reevaluate your Mardi Gras theme or find a different spot for your Grandmother’s collection of antique urns.


5 Responses to The Nursery, The Deathtrap or How I Made My Son’s Room Adorably Dangerous

  1. Avatar
    Mandy September 18, 2014 at 8:22 am #

    Shannon, again – so great to read. I took the light bulbs out of the overhead light and just rely on an out of reach lamp and windows for the boys’ room… The light switch got really boring after they realized it doesn’t do anything. I’m either training them to keep on their toes or that things that ought work might not… hopefully that won’t be a therapy issue in the future 🙂
    Thanks for the laughs this morning – amazing what child proof means – and how it changes as they grow!

    • Shannon Lee Miller
      Shannon Lee Miller September 18, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

      Thanks so much for reading, Mandy!!!

      I’m so relieved to hear that the end of Wilder’s light switch obsession may very well be in sight! As soon as I walk out the door, he goes into Disco Inferno mode, blinking the light and bopping around his crib. He’s a nut, that kid.

      Great tips about the lighting! i’m happy to report that our scary dangerous floor lamp is being forced into retirement this week, we might even get it a sheet cake and nice watch:)


  2. Avatar
    Janet Wilson September 19, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

    Shannon, I love this blog! It is great for Grandmothers too!
    And as always, you have such a great way with words.
    Love, Janet

  3. Shannon Lee Miller
    Shannon Lee Miller September 19, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

    Thank you so much for reading, Janet!!!! You are so sweet:)
    I can’t imagine what you must have thought when you saw the horrible curtains I’ve gone and strung up in my poor kiddo’s room…lol:) xoxoxox

  4. Avatar
    Jesika Roy October 2, 2014 at 9:31 am #

    Great read! I’m pregnant with my second, and his/her “nursery” will be free bassinet that I got from a stranger. 🙂

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