Everyone is talking about the last day of school and what their kids are doing this summer — some are going away to camp but most children spend lots more time at home during school vacations. The challenge for parents is keeping your kids busy and safe, as independently as possible based on their age and maturity.
When you've lived in your house for years, you might forget that you're making adjustments to your daily activities and these can affect your child's safety in many ways. That's why it's good to have family rules and the start of summer vacation is a good time to review the rules with your kids.If there are too many rules, noone will remember them all. It's better to keep the list short and share with your children why it's important to learn and follow the rules, i.e. you don't want them, their friends or pets, to get hurt. While you don't want to scare them, a personal story about a friend who got hurt because they didn't follow the rules will deliver the message better as kids often believe they're invinsible.
Summer vacation is a great time to sit down and check-in with your children. You want to encourage them to explore new activities and with the right preparation, they'll have more fun and success. Maybe they'll want to take an art class and need supplies for painting at home? Have you got a budding gardener who needs their own raised bed? Guide them in planning their projects, from researching what they need to setting a budget, shopping and organizing available space. The sense of accomplishment will be greater when they own it from beginning to end and you'll get the independent, self-starter you want so you can accomplish your own projects too.
Outdoor Safety for Kids at Home
As adults, we are likely to recognize danger but what if you're not home, or simply aren't outdoors with your children? Having a set of family rules that you periodically review with your kids is the best way to teach them to be independent and safe.
- Don't climb up trees, ladders or anything else in the yard unless you have permission, i.e. your tree house.
- Don't go near power tools or electrical cords in the yard — lawn mower, chain saw or even a weed wacker. They're too loud (can cause hearing problems), debris can get tossed into the air and you can get an electric shock or worse if standing in water.
- No kids inside the fenced swimming pool area unless someone is there to supervise. Always follow the rules of the babysitter or whoever is supervising, i.e. get out of the water if they need to leave the pool area.
- Keep a safe distance (3 feet recommended) from fires and other hot items like barbeque grills.
- Stay in designated play areas (age appropriate) — backyard for ball games, driveway for basketball practice and only ride your bike where your parents allow, i.e. down to the circle at the end of your street and back.
- Follow the rules set by (or for) neighbor's yards, i.e. no bike riding on steep driveways. We learned the hard way watching our 2 year speed down a driveway, on his 3-wheeler … barefoot.
- Keep your toys, bikes, etc in their designated space to avoid someone tripping over them. It will also prevent damage from a car driving over them, and you'll have to earn the money to replace what's lost!
Parents also need to heed child safety rules. When not using a power tool, unplug it even for a few minutes. Don't leave ladders, hoses, cords, dangerous chemicals or anything else out that poses a safety threat . Keep all water hazards fenced properly and when supervising kids in the pool, watch the water which means no reading, talking on the phone or texting.