IF I COULD go back to give my childless self some advice, my former, firmer self likely would have slapped me, the haggard sanctimommy, silly because of how much I have to say.
There are some things you wont learn about being a parent until you actually are one. And once you’re running the gauntlet of this trial-by-fire life experience, you’ll likely find yourself wishing you’d had known some of it in advance. Some of the lessons shake you to the core. For example, when your baby gets a cold you’d better be prepared to suck it up and, literally, suck snot out of your baby’s nose with a straw-like contraption if you want to get more than a few minutes of peace (see NoseFrida aka The Snot Sucker).
Other lessons aren’t quite as chilling, but important nonetheless. One such lesson is the necessity of darkness in the nursery. When I was pregnant with my now two-year old, I spent months decorating his nursery, blissfully unaware of the many hours I’d spend in the space not being able to see any of it because those precious hours would be IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT! My son has been a terrible sleeper for most of his life. I’m happy to report that, at 27 months old, he is now a champion sleeper and napper. I attribute part of this to good old fashioned darkness.
So here’s a picture of how the nursery looked when my son came home from the hospital:
LOOK AT ALL THAT GORGEOUS SUNSHINE! ROOKIE MISTAKE!
As I struggled with his awful sleep habits, I was miserable and wanted to strangle every person who told me their child slept for 10 hours a night starting at only eight weeks old. I considered these people to be liars or downright evil, and knew there must be a special place in hell reserved for them. Or, less dramatically, that they’d always get stuck in the longest line no matter where they went, for the rest of their lives. Ha! Have fun at Disneyworld with your good sleepers, suckers!
These thoughts were mostly a new mom survival mechanism; I really don’t wish ill upon people. Especially now that I get a solid 8 hours most nights 🙂
Through reading a dozen books on sleep and seeking advice from experienced moms, I discovered that having a really dark nursery might help my poor sleeper. And here I was with my cutesy DIY custom curtain panels and NO BLINDS! You can see from the photo above that the sun streams right through the curtains, rendering these panels purely aesthetic.
I wised up and added Harper roman blackout shades from Pottery Barn Kids to the windows. I love these shades for their look, but I’ve discovered a big issue after having them for almost two years. The problem is they only come in certain sizes, so if your window ain’t the exact size of the shades your room will not be totally dark. I have my two shades hung as close as possible to the center frame of the windows, and light still peers in between the two shades. It doesn’t make for nice photos, which is why you wont see one here, but typically I rest a huge, flattened cardboard U-Haul box on the windowsill between the two shades so no light can come in the crack.
Again, it doesn’t look nice, but it keeps the room darker, longer. This means more sleep for everyone.
For the new baby’s nursery, darkness was at the top of my priority list. For me, cuteness is always of the utmost importance as well so I needed to figure out what to do in order to achieve both.
In the new nursery, I only have one window to work with and the configuration of the room ruled out having a combination of long panels and shades like I have in my son’s room. I was left with the option of a single blind or shade. After being shocked straight by a quote for a custom blackout cordless roman shade for this average size window (over $400), I decided to go the DIY route.
By using a combination of a cordless cellular blind paired with a DIY fabric roman shade, I got the look and functionality I was after for just under $150 ($60 for fabric/pompoms, $70 for blackout blind, $12 for café rod). I think the results are simply adorable!
For this room I had pineapples in mind as a neutral accent. Since, more often than not, pineapple decor seems to have a girly flair, I went with a graphic black and white fabric to keep the look less feminine. I found this fabric on Spoonflower, and it was designed by Maaike Boot of Little Smilemakers.
I’m a huge fan of Spoonflower fabrics. It’s not the least expensive of online fabric retailers (for this project I purchased the Linen-Cotton Canvas fabric at $27/yard), but the selection and quality cannot be beat. Plus Spoonflower uses scraps of fabric to make blankets for charities that send them to orphanages, so it’s a sustainable and charitable organization. I love Spoonflower! I swear they didn’t pay me to say any of this.
Back to the shade. Using the same method as described here, my mom sewed a simple roman shade (essentially a large rectangle of fabric with a pocket in the top for the rod). She sewed the narrow edge of two long pieces of ribbon about half way up on both the front and back of the shade so that it can be trussed up from the bottom. The green pompom fringe sewn along the edge adds an additional element of nursery whimsy.
I knew the fabric wouldn’t be nearly enough to make the room totally dark, so I decided to shop around for a blackout cordless blind. This Levolor blind from Lowe’s was perfect. I bought it in gunmetal gray, and had Lowe’s cut it to size for me. The sales associate plugged the dimensions of my window into a special computer that perfectly cut the shade to the exact size of my window. It couldn’t have been easier.
From the images below, you can see the difference in light with the addition of the blackout blind.
The best part is I wont have to fuss with the fabric shade at all. I can just pull the blackout blind down behind the fabric shade for total room darkening goodness. The Levolor blind is cordless, which means it’s safe for a baby’s room, and can be pulled up or down by pressing the small plastic button on the center of the blind at the bottom with your thumb. It slides up and down easily using one hand.
Here’s the first, and likely only, photo on Embrace My Space that was shot with a flash. I wanted to give you all an idea of just HOW dark this shade makes the room. It was so dark that my camera wouldn’t even take the photo, even in the manual setting. I’m sure a more experienced photographer would be able to capture the absolute blackness of the room, but I’ll have to settle for telling you that IT’S DARK IN HERE! I swear. Really dark.
I shot this photo in the middle of the afternoon with the flash on. You can see there is barely a sliver of light escaping into the room on either side of the blind. The amount of light that comes in is negligible, and won’t have any effect (fingers crossed) on the baby’s ability to sleep many long, consecutive hours in this space.
Now, if you’d all send me some sleepy dust for when this baby shows up in a few weeks, it’d be appreciated greatly!
Do you or your kids need total darkness to sleep? Tell me, what tricks have you used to keep your rooms dark? Anyone else out there with a bad sleeper?