Decorating a nursery

Before my first daughter was born, I decorated her nursery entirely in Snoopy-print stuff I got online at great expense from the USA. Oh, it was all so cute. Pale blue with tiny baby Snoopy wearing a nightcap and curled up with baby Woodstock, fast asleep. I had the works. Cot sheets, blankets, face cloths, towels, decorative pillows (not for the cot, but for the rocking chair), a mobile, and even curtains. I’ll tell you, you can get anything on the internet.

But when my husband and I brought our new baby girl home from hospital, I suddenly decided that Snoopy was all wrong. I stripped the nursery, sold the lot on Trade Me, and started over. With pink. So much pink. Flowers, fairies, princesses, tea parties, castles, all the pink. It was an explosion of frills and bows and I loved it even though nothing matched and everything was way OTT. Pink is my favourite colour and now, looking back, I realise that I wasn’t creating my dream nursery for my baby girl. Oh, no, I was creating my dream nursery for ME.

When my second baby – my son – was on the way, I put my husband in charge. He excitedly painted the nursery walls, then began to paint a mural of My Neighbour Totoro characters, which he worked on for several weeks up to the birth. And then he ran out of steam. My son’s bedroom still has a half-finished mural on the walls, now partly obscured by glow-in-the-dark solar system stickers and drawings of Lego creations. The ceiling, however, was painted with clouds – by me, when I was nine months pregnant and had no concept of personal safety. I smile every time I go in there, thinking of how earnest and enthusiastic we were until we got caught up in being busy parents of two children.

Our third baby, another girl, has a nursery that’s full of hand-me-downs. All the stuff from her big sister and big brother’s babyhood days has ended up in her room, and she doesn’t seem to mind. She’s got enough toys to fill a toy store. Shelves and shelves of books. Enough cot blankets to last for several years after she outgrows the cot. And clothing that belonged not only to her older siblings, but also to her cousins, and colleagues’ children, and our old neighbour, and even a few things that I wore when I was little. Almost everything in there has a memory attached to it, and because of this, it’s definitely my favourite nursery of the three.

The other day I was in the nursery sorting through a pile of cot sheets when I came across one I thought I’d got rid of a long time ago. It’s white with pale blue and yellow stars, and pictures of baby Snoopy and Woodstock sleeping peacefully. I’m not sure how it survived the Great Nursery Redo of more than a decade ago, but when I found it, I had to sit down for a moment – transported back in time to my first pregnancy, when I didn’t know anything about the little person I was going to meet, and I thought a matchy-matchy themed nursery was the way to go.

Little did I realise that my babies wouldn’t care what their bedrooms looked like. They only wanted to sleep near me anyway. And when each of them did finally graduate from their bassinet in the master bedroom to a cot in their own room, it quickly became more important that everything was washable as well as fun to look at and play with.

However your nursery is decorated, remember, it’s really for you – and it’s important you love it and don’t mind tidying it up after your baby’s had a day of playing with all the toys, emptying all the drawers, and messing up all the carefully curated little displays of cute things you painstakingly organised on their shelves. A nursery is a creative expression of love, and it doesn’t matter if everything in it is brand-new or has been loved by siblings and cousins beforehand. Have fun decorating yours – and please send me pics so I can see what’s special to you!