Buying a house can be a nerve wracking process no matter what your life circumstances are. Like everything else though, when young children are involved the decision feels a little heavier. When you’re single and kid-less or married and child-free, if you’re home buying decisions turn out to be less than excellent the collateral damage is usually pretty minimal – meaning; the obstacles and challenges you may face as a result of your less-than-excellent decision will likely be relatively easy to navigate by an adult with the wherewithal to purchase a home, especially since you are presumably getting several hours of child-free sleep each and every night. Now, bring in some new-to-the-world, tiny people who look to you in order to have every single one of their needs met on a minute to minute basis and things get a little more complicated, a little more frightening. Will we have enough space for all the baby’s stuff? What if we need a new roof? What if the roof leaks in the baby’s room? (Correct, that IS what home inspections are for). Bottom line is; no new family with a young child wants to finally get into a new home, likely their first home, and end up struggling with more chaos, fighting even harder against the clock every day, and generally have a more difficult time with the day-to-days than they were prior to the momentous occasion of owning a home. In an effort to help lessen any unneeded pain, here’s a quick checklist of must haves for the young, kid-enriched family in a new house – in completely random order, of course.
Bathtub – Sure, bathing a newborn in the kitchen sink is cute and fun, but what happens when they outgrow it? Or, more likely, what happens when there are a bunch of dirty dishes in the kitchen sink and you can’t wash them before bath time because you’ve gotten a total of five hours of real sleep in the past ten days? Trying to give your kid a shower before they can stand securely on their own is not cute, or fun – at all. There’s got to be a bathtub. That way at least you can kneel down on the floor on those evenings when your legs feel like all the sudden you’ve joined a professional soccer team and you play the position that constantly runs up and down the field – carrying the big guy on your shoulders. Let’s face it; in the first couple (18 I hear) years, if there aren’t at least a couple days (more likely several) that conclude with you, literally not being able to stand for one more minute – go buy a lottery ticket because you’re super lucky.
At least two bathrooms – Imagine this: your two year-old daughter or son waddles their little kid waddle into the bathroom, pushes their little step stool up to the sink, carefully climbs up and begins brushing their teeth. (Remember, this is imaginary so there is no red-faced screaming, no alligator death rolls, no hyperventilating – the kid is just willingly brushing their teeth). This directly follows your 25 minute stint on the throne after your two heavily caffeinated morning beverages. Not cool, not cool at all. You need two bathrooms – well, one and a half at the absolute least.
Storage - It is a commonly known fact that people between the ages of zero and five collectively possess ninety percent of the worlds’ total stuff. Contrary to laws of physics and all logical thought, as human beings get larger they require and have less stuff. We are all baffled at just how many objects, toys, clothes, shoes, toiletries, towels, washcloths, plates, bottles, sippy cups, diapers, and immeasurable other pieces of stuff take up space in a residence that is occupied by a small child. And it all seems to have a significant purpose. Do yourself a favor and make sure you have a little extra room somewhere – an accessible attic, dry and un-haunted basement, and rodent-free shed or other outbuilding, even a spare closet. It is joyous when “put away” is no longer synonymous with “pile in the corner.”
Lockless interior doors (or multiple keys in multiple locations) – It is a very distinct and unpleasant sense of panic that attacks you the first time your toddler clumsily slams their bedroom door shut and you hear the faint click of the lock turning. You must, absolutely must, resist the instinct to immediately bust the door down to rescue your kid. Instead, simply change the doorknobs to ones without locks or make sure you keep a key close to each door (top of the door frame would be an effective location). There could be a situation when you actually need to make a timely entrance to ensure your child’s well-being – like if they lock themselves in one of your two bathrooms. This is all much less time consuming than developing the intricate skill of picking locks.
Washer/Dryer – There are, without question, parents who function perfectly fine without a washer and dryer at home. I would expect, quite seriously, that there are awards or some other acknowledgment of achievement reserved for them. Similar to the illogical relationship between size and amount of stuff, the smaller the person the more clothes they will go through in a day and the dirtier those clothes will get. The amount of disgusting-ness that finds its way onto the clothes of parents and their children is staggering – then, of course, you have the bedding, towels, pillow cases, bathmats, washcloths, stuffed animals, pets (just making sure you’re paying attention) and anything else that can fit into a washing machine. There will be times when something has to be immediately prewashed outside with the hose and put directly into the washer with a ridiculous amount of color safe bleach or it just has to be thrown in the trash. You’ll end up saving way more than money with a washing machine at home.
There is no way your first home as a family with a young child is going to be a sanctuary of constant tranquility and peaceful rest – you live with a kid after all! Making sure your home is equipped with these amenities will, however, keep you chasing them around and cleaning up after them with a smile on your face more often than not. It may even save you from tearing out what is left of your hair.