Before becoming parents, my husband and I knew we should probably change a few things in our apartment: the wobbly vintage ashtrays we used as side tables, the pile of splinters covered in chipped paint we called a bookshelf. Our barren hardwood floors had never been something we thought much about. Rugs, we’d always believed, were an unnecessary financial and visual expense. People who already had children warned us this belief would be short-lived, and we believed them just enough to take a trip to Ikea, where we bought a light-colored, very thin rug. Then we sat on the couch until our son was old enough for tummy time, thinking that brief gesture toward our floor was enough.
What we should have done, however, is started spending time on the floor while I was pregnant, maybe even during the throes of baby-curiosity. This would have given us that extra bit of preparedness that’s actually useful — unlike drafting birth plans or confronting the impossibility a new routine based on someone who does not yet exist. If we’d gotten to know our floor earlier, when we had more time, we’d know a bit more about what it would be like to spend long stretches down there. When was the last time you sat on the floor and felt what it was like, your squishy adult thighs and hard old bones against a flat surface? How many bobby pins are underneath your couch, and should you wipe down the base of your floor lamp? (Trick question, get rid of the floor lamp now.) Know all this, and then confidently enter the environment where you’ll crouch to supervise the baby gym, crawl after a scooting 5-month-old, and scurry alongside a 1-year-old experimenting with walking.
Plus, I think a lot of parents find spending time on the floor habit-forming, whether the baby’s around or not. This is just what I do now, I remember a friend with a toddler telling me about watching TV stretched out on the rug after her daughter had gone to bed.
So ease into a cross-legged position or loose-limbed sprawl and ask yourself some questions: Where’s the best place for your rug to go — partially under the couch, tugged a few feet away from it? Do you want a rug pad, one of those rock-colored rectangles, to go underneath? (Yes. They keep your rug in place, and provide some extra cushion.) Have you been sweeping or vacuuming enough? Do you need to … buy a vacuum? Is the situation comfortable enough to lie on your side and stack blocks into a tower? Here’s a final question, one I can help you with: Should you get a cream-colored rug that’s not comfortable to hang out on? No.
Try it all now. Your body will thank you. Your floor area, should it need adjustments, will be all set for when the time comes. You’re also making a solid and smug financial decision: Whatever the size of your living room, you’re now occupying it to a fuller degree. Have you heard the phrase “cost per use”? Imagine how much money you’ve spent on your apartment already. Imagine how many times you’ve wished for extra space, especially now that your family is gaining a new person. That extra space has been there all along, right underneath your feet.