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Space, The Final Frontier

Fitting kids into one’s life and apartment

Clutter.

We all deal with it, I imagine. Even if you don’t have kids, you still have stuff. But what do you do about all the stuff you had beforehand?

When we moved into our condominium late in 2008, Nomi was already pregnant with the kids. When friends came over to help us pack boxes, Nomi mostly sat and supervised. We labeled the boxes to go into specific rooms, so the movers would know where to bring everything in the new apartment. Every box had a logical label, like “Bedroom” or “Living Room.” But we also had a lot of, well, stuff. So Nomi suggested we just have the movers drop it all in the kids’ room when we moved, as the kids weren’t going to be using that room until they arrived anyway.

So once we moved, we managed to unpack most of the boxes in the dining room, the living room, the library nook, and our bedroom, and put everything in a logical place. But the kids’ room loomed as a rather large task. Even after we had some friends come over to help us unpack some of it, there was still about 144 cubic feet of boxes left in their room.

And it stayed that way for almost two years.

Let me explain. Among religious Jews, there is a tradition of not preparing for a baby before the baby is born. In general, I understand and appreciate the reasons why. I’ve known a few people who have lost a pregnancy to miscarriage. The emotional impact would be worsened, I imagine, if the person who lost the child had to take apart a nursery.

However, it does mean that when the baby finally arrives you’re in a mad scramble to get things done.

In our own case, it was even more chaotic. Nomi’s doctor has scheduled a C-section for a Thursday in July, but the week before, Nomi’s blood pressure kept creeping up. The Friday before the original surgery date, he pulled the C-section back to Sunday...which was the day we had planned to finish cleaning out the kids’ room and also set up the co-sleeper and the diaper table.

Fortunately, friends of ours were able and willing to help us out. While Nomi and I were getting to know Muffin and Squeaker at , two friends set up the co-sleeper. When we finally made it home later that week, Nomi’s parents set up the diaper table.

In the dining room.

There really wasn’t any space for it in the kids’ room. And before you ask, yes, we’ve had many friends over for meals, and no one has minded.

We did manage to make space for two cribs in the kids’ room shortly before the kids got too big for the co-sleeper. But they were sharing their room with our boxes. And it bothered me. I’ve wanted to get those final boxes put somewhere else, as I don’t want the kids to remember that their room doubled as storage for their parents. But I just haven’t had the time or energy.

So last week, we hired  to repack the boxes that have been in the kids’ room all this time, and to move them into basement storage. They were quick and efficient, and they left behind a beautiful empty space. Nomi and our babysitter proceeded to re-organize the kids’ room into something more logical – and finally, the diaper table is out of the dining room.

Muffin and Squeaker’s reaction to the new space was mostly positive. That night when I came home, they wanted to sit in each other's crib and jump around a lot, so they seemed to be happy. I think their one disappointment now is that they can’t delay bedtime by asking to go to the table for a diaper change. Before, it required marching down the hall to the dining room and back. And usually we would discover that they weren’t being truthful about the need for a new diaper. Now, if they claim to need a diaper change, the table is right there. I think it kind of took the fun out of it for them.

But at least their room really is their own space now.

Well, except for the Star Trek action figures I’ve tucked away in their closet. But we’ll worry about that another day.

This week’s column is written by Michael A. Burstein.

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