The twins are in a phase of intense exploration. Every nook, cranny and crack in the wall is a potential mystery. Every door must be opened, and shut. Everything on a shelf must be taken off. Occasionally, put back on, but mostly taken off. Every staircase looks enticing. Every drawer is a potential experiment. Every ledge is worth climbing. Gravity is fascinating to them.

The learning is fun to watch. So long as the various things being strewn about are plastic, or at least unbreakable, it feels like a game. When it’s not fun is when they grab and chew electrical cords. Worse still when they become obsessed with climbing on furniture. Their curiosity is dangerous, and not good for the nerves.

I love a modern home where the kitchen is essentially in the middle of the house. It’s lovely to cook a meal with friends and family in a social atmosphere. After all, every good party ends up in the kitchen anyhow. But this type of home layout is not particularly useful with twin toddlers. Giant, expensive, seven or eight-foot-long screw-in baby gates aside, there are few solutions to this, save putting everything unsafe or important above waist height in cupboards. Since I, like most humans, have more stuff than I truly need, there are simply not enough cupboards above waist height to contain it all. Baby- proofing is the name of the game.

Having two babies means sometimes leaving the room with one unattended. I often will pop out of view of the play area (formerly known as our living room) to go change a diaper, all the while feeling secure that the other child is safely whipping pieces of a shape puzzle in all directions for amusement. Those days have ended. The first time I returned to the living room to find a rambunctious toddler standing on the sofa, precariously balanced, holding a pillow over the edge to see what would happen if she dropped it, I realized this system was simply not going to work for us. It is no longer secure enough. Enter: Baby Jail.

We purchased a large, obnoxiously decorated, plastic “play yard”. I should note that the twins previously had our entire, quite large living room to explore, complete with play mat and boxes of toys. They hated being contained there. Imagine how they feel in a six-foot square pen. The play yard came with a panel that has a cute little toy telephone (as if children born in 2018 know what on earth a dial phone is supposed to do) and some spinning doo-hickeys, a mirror and so on. The amusement of all those things lasted about six minutes until the complaining started.

I’ve taken to letting them out into the larger living room fairly regularly. I’ve also taken to saying, “No, do not climb on that, no, noooo,” quite often. So often, in fact that this week while the windows were open I felt self-conscious about how many times I said, “NO” in a half hour and wondered if the neighbours thought I was a responsible parent or one too lazy to get up and pick up her darn kid. On the upside, it seems the little monsters have learned that “No” is a thing Mom and Dad will say, at the sheer suggestion of climbing the sofa. This is a new fun game, where one leg flips up onto the pillows, and their little heads swivel around, as if to say, “Go ahead, SAY NO.”

Baby jail is a miracle solution and an absolute twin parenting essential. Now, all we need to do is get a second one to avoid the inevitable cage matches.