We bought our first house before we had any kids and fell in love with the charm of the beautiful three-bedroom, one bath home with lovely mahogany trim on all the windows and doors. Built in 1923, it was not unique in Burbank, but was the first time either my (now former) husband or I had lived in an old house.
Once we had kids, however, a couple of things about the charm just weren’t so charming anymore. First of all, the raised foundation, which is really the best thing when you consider the entire foundation world, meant that there were two very steep steps leading from the backyard to the back porch and a similar pair from the side door to ground level. Unsteady little legs required that I always be there to help the kids up and down the stairs, or sit there to make sure they didn’t attempt them on their own. One of our most exciting family moments confirmed my natural maternal paranoia: seeing my one-year old laying face down on the walkway after having fallen off the back porch steps. After a trip to the emergency room and a verdict of slight concussion (“wake her up every hour or so”), I vowed that our next house would be firmly planted no more than one inch from ground level.
Two bathrooms is a necessity, of course. Need I say more than a two-and-a-half year old being potty-trained and a four-year old with the flu?
A modern layout with kitchen overlooking the family room and backyard is not really a luxury unless you constantly want to be choosing between exercise for the kids and a home-cooked dinner. “Go outside and play” is a lot easier if Mom has an easy view of the play area. Of course, this CAN be an effective way to engineer frequent restaurant meals, so you have to decide what’s important to you.
I was always happy not to have a pool when my kids were young. There were so many ways my kids could get into trouble that I welcomed a backyard of grass and dirt…provided they got there without an ambulance.