It’s been 2 months now since pregnancy up and left my life. I miss it, being able to stuff myself silly with Rolo yoghurts for breakfast and not bat an eyelid. But one aspect I am kind of glad is behind me, is decorating.
I adore this long process that Joe and I have chosen to embark on – to design every single room in the house from scratch. In 2014, the third year of this journey, it brought the challenge of hurrying up and making sure the house was safe for a child. It resulted in a lot of fussing with brickwork, getting rid of tools on the stairs, ensuring all walls were not going to drop on our baby’s head… It also meant a reasonable amount of basic decorating, getting all walls painted (even if it was just a base coat) and by the end of 2014, we were able to say for the first time “our house has flooring in every single room”. A pretty awesome achievement if you ask me.
Anywho, let me tell you now, decorating can be a really tough job at the best of times.
For the most part, I really enjoy it. I’m a big fan of painting. I’m slow, but hey, I tend to just stick on Spotify with my playlist of under-appreciated 80s anthems which everyone in my life is sick of hearing by now, and I just enjoy it. But doing so when you’re on a deadline such as pregnancy, as well as being less able, you can’t afford to be slow.
I know, I know, it’s probably the case that when you’re pregnant you should leave the decorating to someone else.
Put your feet up. Take a nap (seriously, you’ll miss naps when the baby arrives). However, I understand that not everyone is decorating the entire house in one go so it’s probably not as much of a biggie. It’s a really nice opportunity to bond with your baby in a way, even when they’re not born yet. If this is you, I thought I’d share a few of the tips I picked up when I was decorating whilst pregnant.
Paint is one reason why many women are discouraged from decorating at this time. The fumes can be toxic and even getting paint on your skin can be a hazard for your baby. Try to select a water based paint if you can. Water based paints tend to have a lower VOC level (but check the tin, it will say on there how strong it will be) and these are also less harmful when they get on your skin, which, if you’re a messy bugger like me, is inevitable. For reference, in our nursery we used Dulux Trade in the colour Blue Seduction 3 and it was absolutely fine but we did need to air out the room afterwards. I think it’s worth nothing also that we later decorated the hallway using Valspar paint which had no odour at all and was much more pregnancy friendly in my eyes.
Water borne paints have far fewer fumes but have reported to be a bit patchy on the walls, partly because the pigment has been given a boost to accommodate the reduction of the smelly solvents, which can affect the mixture and its smoothness. Gloss paints tend to have a higher VOC level still – just in case you’re thinking of re-painting the skirting boards! – but the market is getting better at offering less smelly options.
If all else fails, grab yourself a face mask (mine is from B&Q value range, does the job fine, and was totally affordable at around £2) and keep the windows open before and after painting. Try and wear long sleeves if possible, and if you have some latex gloves floating around, it can’t hurt to use them, if for no other reason than to protect your manicure.
Pregnancy can be uncomfortable, and so can decorating. Keep your hair tied up and if you have a spare bobble going, use it on your pants. Seriously, you don’t want to be buying spare overalls in a bigger size if you are decorating at later stages with a large bump. Instead, take your ordinary scruffy clothes and use a stretchy band (bobbles or elastic bands work best) looped through the top button of your pants and hooked on your button opening to give you an extra few inches around the waist. Maternity clothes are already a rip off in my opinion. You don’t want to increase your shopping list any more than it needs to be.
To avoid becoming dehydrated have a glass of water or juice before you begin. Stick another one in the fridge for when you have a break or when you finish or at the very least, in the next room. This is particularly important if you’re painting. Keeping your drink away from the mess means you’ll be less likely to drink the splashed paint that will inevitably end up in there. Sure it will be in small quantities, but the list of what you’re not allowed to consume in pregnancy is long, and it’s better to be safe than sorry isn’t it?
I’m a shortarse and need ladders to reach…most places to be honest. Ladders aren’t advisable when you’re pregnant. Your balance isn’t as good as you think it is when you get a baby bump so it’s best to just play it safe. Whether you’re securing a nursery mobile, hanging wallpaper, or creating a feature wall, try and do most of your decorating at ground level. Either get someone else to do the higher stuff, or at least someone nearby to hold the ladder. In fact, don’t do any of this alone if possible. I am a believer that pregnancy isn’t an illness and you don’t always need special treatment for most things, but your balance will be affected at the later stages and if you’re anything like me, clumsiness lingered like a fart in an elevator – it just stuck around! Avoid becoming a wobbly oaf, again like me, and get some company.
Be the assistant where you can. You don’t have to be hands on if you could be more useful elsewhere – designing, researching, shopping! I can’t give enough credit to my husband Joe for the amount of work he did whilst I was rocking the bowling ball look and quite frankly, didn’t feel like decorating. Just because you can’t do the heavy lifting doesn’t mean you can’t be useful. Pass the tools. Hold a ladder. Pick up supplies from the store. Make the brews! I must say, I learned a few things this way. On many occasion, our conversations went a little something like this…
Joe: Can you find me my screws please?
Karen: Can you be more specific?
Joe: The flatheads
Karen: Which ones are there?
Joe: The ones with the flat heads…
You learn something new every day, am I right? Anyway, hopefully this was helpful to some of you. I’d love to hear any more tips you have so share them below. Happy decorating x