I decided many months ago that it was high time Ethan had a real big boy bed, and it needed to be two things:
We converted his crib right before my back surgery more out of necessity than anything…I wasn’t going to be able to lift him in and out (and wasn’t supposed to even before surgery, oops) so BOOM, he was in a side-less crib. And it all went well! No issues at all, I guess he was ready.
Anyway, his crib was kind of falling apart from being taken apart and moved across the country twice—it was clear we needed an upgrade. So what did I do? Spent many spare moments rushing into consignment and antique stores scanning for beds—I’m fast. I scoured Craiglist for weeks. Waiting to find something perfect was excruciating. I’m just not very patient.
But on my monthly visit to one of my favorite shops, Quintessential, I found this:
Rusty and scratched but nearly dent-less and very sturdy, I knew this was our bed. Except it was missing side rails. I asked the shop owners how I could handle this…was making new rails possible? They’d need to be this nifty little button system, something I’d never seen before but apparently is pretty common in old iron beds. They passed along the name of a local welding company and gave me the weekend to figure things out.
Long story short, the welding company said “No problem, give us a week” and I bought the bed. The price? Free. Ok, it was really $55 but I had an old crystal light fixture to trade, one that had been in our foyer and just didn’t work in the space, so no money was exchanged. The new rails set me back about $60.
Next up, it was time to sand.
Getting the pieces into my garage, I realized exactly how rough they were. Paint chipped everywhere, rust on every inch. I headed in with my electric sander for hours. I of course did a lead paint test first, and even though it came up negative, I wore a respirator. There was so much sanding dust flying up in the air and this bed was pretty old…I thought I’d err on the safe side.
Lemme tell you, wearing these masks with glasses is just a treat. That is, unless you actually need to see what you are doing. Foggy glass was an issue.
I sanded until all the paint-chip pock-marks and the rust were gone. After a good coat of primer, I used Rust-Oleum Ultra Cover in Glossy “Sun Yellow”. After everything had a couple coats, I used a regular old Poly to seal everything.
Many nap times were spent in the garage sanding and painting—good thing our video monitor reaches! I wanted plenty of paint on every surface so I went through about four cans of spray paint. The bed started looking very good, very quick.
Amazing what paint can do.
There was one spot on the bed I couldn’t ignore, a giant gouged area right smack in the top-middle of the headboard. I used some metal repair compound I found in the putty area of the paint supplies asile at Home Depot. I don’t know if it’s the right thing to use, but I used it and it worked. After applying, I let it dry a day or two and then sanded the crap out of it. It’s not a perfect fix, but looks much better than before.
After what seemed like forever (we were also spending weekends renovating the bathroom at this time, see the plywood planks in the background?) , I announced the bed was complete. A trip to Mattress Firm for, I think, the most comfortable inexpensive mattress ever, and a trip to the hardware store for some 1×4 bed slats (we cut them down), we were ready to set it up.
Out came the old crib and in went the new bed…Ethan was PUMPED!! We made the switch right before nap on a Saturday so he had a chance to try it out before doing the full overnight.
Pretty good for free, right? The construction sheets I grabbed at Target almost a year ago work perfectly, the orange and navy going so well with the yellow. No comforter (actually no sheet either) right now because the Peanut prefers no covers at this time.
Don’t get me started, we’ve tried and tried to get him to give them a try.
There’s the “button” I was talking about. The bed rails needed them welded on to slide into the head and footboard slots. The welding company had all the pieces to make sure it was a really tight fit…no wobbling here.
A look underneath shows our DIY slats. I may have hit up Ikea for a set of these if possible, but buying them cheap and cutting them down was a cinch. I’ll be working up a velcro system to keep them in place during sheet changes (with potty training, there have been quite a few).
Ethan LOVES his new bed.
He’s fallen out a couple times but recovered beautifully, just mumbling, “I fell out of my bed” when we ran in to check. The kids sleeps with like 7 miniature vehicles plus Sharky (a GIANT stuffed shark) every night so it’s no wonder things get a little crowded sometimes.
We realized there was no need for his giant orange chair anymore, as we read all his books laying in bed. Suddenly the baby items that have been a part of his room for three years are disappearing. The changing pad, crib, rocking chair, cloth diaper supplies…all gone.
I’m a little shocked by how cute this bed turned out, and even more shocked at how flippin’ comfortable it is!! Reading a story to him at nap almost does me in every day.
If you haven’t been, check out Quintessential when they are open, the first through the seventh of every month. Always different and the prices are quite nice.
You may also like:
So far, not my favorite.
Are there good things? Absolutely. Ethan is MUCH more independent, so much so that Stu and I refer to him as “easy” on a regular basis. But that word, “Easy”, is all relative. Does it mean he can wield a fork or spoon on his own? Sure. Clean up his toys after playing? Totally. Get dressed my himself? Yep. Sit in a chair at a table? Yes! Follow directions and know the rules? Completely.
But actually getting him to DO all of these things without a fight is typically a ginormous pain-in-the-butt-make-you-want-to-pull-out-your-hair experience. Quickly culminating in something like this:
In this instance, I think I asked him to pick up the cards he threw all over the floor. Huge drama.
Why does he give us trouble? Because he KNOWS he can make us completely crazy but refusing to do basic day-to-day tasks and loves the power he holds over us while we try to calmly talk him into doing them. I think it’s called “asserting his independence?”
Oh, and also apparently just because he’s three.
Yes, that’s right, I’m writing about how motherhood is making me a little nuts these days. Not something you see often out here on PFP, I like to keep things pretty light and positive. But after having at least three mommy-breakdowns after loooooooooong days with a child who refuses to behave in the most annoying ways, I’m waving a white flag of surrender.
One of those times, when I was exhausted and totally fed-up from one of our worst behavior days to date, the tears just started flowing during bed time…I couldn’t hold them back any longer. Ethan jumped on the bed next to me and laughed. LAUGHED!!!!!! Laughed at me unraveling and questioning every bit of my parenting ability.
It took me leaving the room at least three times—which led to him crying and begging for a book and song (which we couldn’t get to two of the times because he ran around the room or turned his light on and off rapidly while screaming like a little psycho)—after which I had to actually read a book and sing a song which is nearly impossible to do when you are so pissed off you want to scream.
And what book does he pick? The Giving Tree.
Oh the irony. Needless to say, I read through very fast and kept the emotional pauses and sappy tone out…I was in robot mode.
Stu arrived back from a work trip later that night (just in time to miss it all), and I told him the whole story…every detail of our horrendous day (which I now cannot for the life of me remember) because I was still in such shock that it even happened, and the next morning I was STILL mad. Mad that I spend every day thinking of fun stuff to do with this kid, getting him good things to eat, finding him beautiful books to read, pairing him with fun friends to play with, and he is rapidly losing any and all respect for me and our daily routine. It’s like when he doesn’t want to listen, I don’t exist.
Of course I got over it, he crawled into bed and snuggled up and said, “I love you mom”, and I melted. Putty in his hands. I hoped with all my heart that was a fluke day, one that wouldn’t be repeated. And for the most part he was better the rest of the week, still wearing me out with his need to negotiate everything, all the time.
Then our big Saturday began. This Saturday we were booked solid: soccer, the first day of the Tower Grove Farmer’s Market, and an Easter Egg Hunt at the Botanical Gardens. We went out prepared with snacks to get us happily through a very fun morning.
Soccer, surprisingly, went great.
We snacked and walked through the farmer’s market for a few minutes, played at the playground, talked to neighbors, then headed to the easter egg hunt. We were one of the many happy families walking up the ticket booths to claim our reserved tickets, smiling and excited for the Easter fun we were about to experience. And it was a blast.
We went from this:
To a total-disaster-melt-down situation in about five minutes. All over that little piece of candy Ethan’s holding so proudly in his hand.
A Swedish Fish brought our happy family day to an abrupt halt. He’d already had three piece of candy and our agreement, long before arriving at the gardens, was two. He started screaming “I WANT IT! I WANT IT!” right there, in the middle of the serene celebratory mood. In a matter of 30 seconds I tried:
- getting down to Ethan’s level to talk about the problem
- talking about the feelings he must be having, cave-man style, “You are so angry! You want that piece of candy!”, waiting for that Dr. Karp moment where Ethan gets that we understand his emotions and we have a heartfelt conversation about them, then hug.
- throwing out a consequence, “We will throw the candy in the trash if you don’t stop crying!”
- letting him cry it out…in the middle of the garden.
Diffusing the situation proved impossible. This all happened in front of dozens of families…most with understanding nods or looks of compassion. One lady called out, “That was us ten minutes ago!” It’s still so totally humiliating.
I don’t have a picture of it, we were so mad and astonished in the moment I couldn’t even begin to think about grabbing my camera (shocker, I know), but Stu picked Ethan up and carried him, kicking and screaming, out the garden gate, past the sweet ladies who checked us, the happy family, in an hour before, and made a bee-line for the car.
No words were said. Eyes straight ahead. Ethan screaming THE ENTIRE TIME.
I realize now we should have just let him cry it out in a less public area. Sure it would have been an insanely embarrassing ten or so minutes but I’m sure he would have stopped. And it sure would have made getting him in the car seat easier.
My sanity after these experiences? Nap time.
To anyone with a three year old who doesn’t nap: May the Force Be With You.
I have no idea what I would do if, after a morning of disobedience and dolling out more patience than my body can handle, I couldn’t count on those 2-3 hours of peace and quiet while our little animal recharges those trouble-making batteries.
Defying someone every 2.4 seconds will really take it out of you, I’m sure.
So I’m now immersed in some long-put-off reading that’s been waiting for me on my trusty Kindle. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, How Toddlers Thrive (thank you Julie for the recommendation), a re-read of The Happiest Toddler on the Block, and possibly 1-2-3 Magic.
I also headed out for some friend-therapy Saturday night and heard so many helpful stories and tips from the Super-moms with whom I’ve surrounded myself. My favorite, on the topic of giving consequences to kids who don’t care about consequences, was from my friend Jackie who said she would make her misbehaving son sit right next to her, holding her hand, for an pre-determined period of time. (I cannot wait to try this with Ethan). The whole night reminded me about the importance of getting out and conversing with adults after spending so much time with your toddler…I left totally revitalized (thank you Amanda).
Even if nothing “fixes” our unruly child, the effort and outside support helps tremendously. Maybe if I can FEEL like I’m on the road to fixing the problem, it will distract me until this “phase” is over. And when he’s good, he’s REALLY good. I almost forget the tough times when he behaves and listens.
I’m sure after reading this Ethan’s grandparents are SUPER excited to visit next weekend.
Common moms, lemme have it. Your favorite book or method, or story about your three year old.