Stairs. I fell in love with a beautiful winding staircase at a gift shop when I was just a kid. It was so beautiful and grand and there just seemed something very magical about it. It seemed like something out of a movie or a fairy tale. It looked a bit like this.
I grew up in a very cool, solar powered one story home. My parents were very creative and were way “greener” than they realized. My bedroom was always really fun and original. At one point it had a trap door in the closet, which snuck down to our green house level where I had a play area. My house was super cool and I loved my trap door, but I still always dreamed of having a very cool winding staircase. Naturally, when I grew up, the thought of owning a two story seemed perfect.
We moved into a lovely two story when Turbo was almost two years old. It was a traditional two story with a small foyer and a staircase. It was not at all as grand as the one I fell in love with as a child, but it had about three feet of banister and it went straight up. It was enough for me to wrap garland around at Christmas and it full-filled my dream of having a staircase. We lived there five years and while I loved that house and neighborhood, I learned that stairs aren’t all they were cracked up to be…. at least how I had placed them on a high pedastool in my mind.
When we moved into our 1 story home, I quickly found that while I missed the beauty of the staircase (mainly the lovely open rails), I loved the ease of living in a ranch. Not carrying laundry up stairs- awesome. Being able to see pretty much any room from my kitchen- very clutch and Tough Guy being able to reach his own room independently- absolutely golden.
But…. we still have stairs that lead to our basement which houses lots of the kids toys and to one room upstairs which was recently turned into the girls’ room. (I’ll post more on this transformation later.) In a perfect world, we would put in an elevator or stair lift to those levels, but those options both have some pretty large challenges (more on that later too.) So, we needed to find a short- or at least semi-short term solution to help Tough Guy get up and down our steps. Let me preface this by saying, Tough Guy can go up and down stairs on his own. Going down is pretty easy breezy; he climbs down head first. He’s been able to do this for years and feels comfortable doing this. Going up is doable, but very challenging. He pulls himself up, step by step using just his arms and positioning of his body. He worked on this with his physical therapists and we were so proud and shocked when he did it on his own. Tough Guy was proud and exhausted! It is A LOT of work, and I’ve tried myself and I failed at it. Try doing it and not even using toes as leverage. It’s really tough. So, in order for Tough Guy to get up, he usually depends on us to carry him. We don’t mind carrying him, but he is getting older and wants to be independent. He wants to keep up with his friends as they play and he doesn’t want to rely on us. Not to mention, he is getting bigger.
We brainstormed ideas, and one idea came from an accessible builder to add a lower handrail to help him pull himself up. It wouldn’t necessarily make climbing easier, but perhaps could be there as a support to help make the pulling or leverage easier. We added it to both our up-stairs leading to the girls’ bedroom and to the basement stairs. We also added carpet to our basement stairs because climbing on wooden stairs just isn’t safe or comfortable.
Tough Guy was really excited when he saw the carpet and rails and immediately headed downstairs to play on his own. The carpet made a huge difference! The rails…. not as much. At this point, they are still a little too high to help much. We couldn’t really make them any lower though because of the baseboard on the stairs. And honestly, I think he still uses the whole step, verses climbing up along the side to climb. It’s still a hard task and we usually carry him. I don’t want to dismiss these as an important tool though. I feel as he gets older and bigger they may help out much more.
For someone that might have more function in their legs, they may be just the right amount of support to help. For anyone with a height discrepancy, this may help as well. I know that we found it wasn’t the right tool for Tough Guy, but perhaps it will help someone else. One thing I do know, little Tinker Bell uses them every day and it’s allowed us to finally take down our stair gate!
What tools do you use to help get from one level to the next?