As most things concerning motherhood are, I have come upon a bit of a catch-22. A couple of weeks ago my husband and I purchased a baby gate with 8 panels from woot! because it was one of their daily deals. The gate is quite large when using all of the panels and I actually form the gate in a large circle around the entrance to our hallway, which gives my daughter the chance to play in the gate, in the hall and in her bedroom. However, even with all of the space, most of the time she ends up trying to climb the panels (yes, she is already pulling herself up to standing, ah!) and cries until I help her out.
It has been good for baby proofing because I already have baby proofed everything within the space where she is free to play and I don't have to worry about what she is getting into. There are sometimes when she is also content to roam around and play by herself, which gives me time to clean or cook or do other things on my own as well. I think it is really important for children to learn how to play on their own and slowly take care of themselves while adventuring alone. I've tried my best to give Squeaker the chance to have time by herself, where I don't interfere and I let her figure things out. This gate has become a good way for me to comfortably facilitate this free learning time because, again, there is a space where I don't think she will hurt herself or get into anything damaging.
I'm wondering, however, if Squeaker is just in a phase of her life where she wants me to be with her everywhere she goes all of the time or if she will always hate this gate when she realizes that I'm not in it with her. I don't want her to feel abandoned or like I don't want to play with her, because I do and that's not the problem. I have a wicker chair inside of the gate where I will sit and read or do other things, but sometimes she gets upset because I'm not on the floor with her and she wants to literally be touching me all of the time. I'm hoping this gate will be worth it and help Squeaker more than hinder her, but so far I am torn about it.
I also have wood flooring in my living room where the gate surrounds the entrance to the hallway, so I have blankets on the floor for her to crawl on. As you can imagine, these quickly bunch up and end up making Squeaker slip. I'm thinking about investing in a rubber play mat as well, do any of you have recommendations for one in particular?
On a different note, I bought Squeaker her first Christmas gift! Husband and I went to the Salt Lake City Downtown Farmer's Market and I ended up buying the cutest rag doll that Squeaker loved! I held it up for her and she immediately smiled, reaching for it and playing with the button on its dress. I only hope that she will be as excited about it Christmas morning. I'm thinking that this doll and the play mat might be the only gifts we get her for Christmas because I know that she will already be spoiled by her grandparents. I would love to hear about your experiences with children at Christmas who are really young. Did you get them much? I'm sure Squeaker will love to pull paper off of the boxes, but I think she is one of those kids who would rather play with the box than the toy, you know?
Another update that I'm excited to share, and contributes to the lack of posts recently, is that I have been helping a neighbor with her twins twice a week. She is going back to work part time and wanted to find good childcare for her twin boys, so a friend (who also has a baby girl) and I are helping out for 8 hours on Wednesdays and Thursdays. It is a lot of hard work and I'm so grateful that it's not just me with three babies all day, but it is still crazy with four against two. The twins aren't very mobile yet, but I can see it coming soon and it is going to get even more interesting very quickly! Call me nuts, but it has actually been really fun (although I am grateful that it is only twice a week) and I love being around so many babies. Seeing them learn from each other and play together is truly rewarding. I can't wait to have more kids of my own and see Squeaker become a wonderful big sister!