When your baby first became mobile, you diligently took a survey of your house to ascertain which household objects posed a potential hazard to your little mover. You plugged outlets, fastened cabinets, gated stairways, and put foam covers on the corners of coffee tables. You didn’t leave your baby out of your sight for more than a second. You were a model of parental safety activism, and your child passed smoothly through his toddling years safe and sound (with the occasional bumps or bruises that are incidental to learning how to become a coordinated human being).
And then your child became a preschooler, and you let down your guard. The gates came off the stairs, the plugs came out of the outlets, and you finally stopped worrying that he would pick up the dish soap and drink it like a bottle. He mastered the stairs and climbing in and out of bed. And you could actually go to the bathroom by yourself while leaving him in a room unattended playing with his toys.
Unfortunately for you, what you did not realize is that the preschool age requires a completely different set of child-proofing measures. I have compiled a short list of your home’s hidden dangers, so that you can keep your ever-curious preschooler (and your stuff!) safe.
My son is a fan of watching YouTube videos, and I occasionally let him watch the odd children’s music video or swim race while cooking dinner. A friend of mine recently left his kid watching a Thomas the Tank Engine video clip, only to return to find him watching an obscure Russian video with very scantily clad models.
YouTube’s official policy is that children under 13 are not permitted to use the site, so the safest bet is not to leave your little ones unattended while on the site. Anyone who has ever played around on YouTube at all knows it’s a virtual Choose Your Own Adventure, requiring only a deft handling of a mouse to click on to some totally inappropriate stuff.
Even babies love to grab and play with Mommy and Daddy’s phones. The problem is that when our children become preschoolers, they often become better than us at operating our devices. There are a myriad number of consequences, all of which I have experienced – having my son call a client; having my son email my husband’s boss; having my son purchase new music and apps. Best to password protect everything on the phone, and try to pay attention when your child is playing with the apps that you have inevitably purchased in order to buy yourself some peace!
I once read an interview with Ryan Gosling in which he said, “Sometimes I think that the one thing I love most about being an adult is the right to buy candy whenever and wherever I want.” I fully ascribe to this line of thinking. The only problem is that now that I have a preschool-aged child, my unbridled right to candy has been stifled! I now have to hide my candy (much in the way I used to have to hide my Halloween loot from my older brothers), lest my three-year-old get into my stash and get hopped up on the good stuff like the little sugar junky he is. These days, all of my gummy bear eating is now clandestine.
One of my friend’s daughters loves to dress up like mommy and has repeatedly broken into her makeup drawers and ruined several very expensive compacts. She has also written on the walls with lipstick. Protect your makeup and protect your walls, and move your makeup bag far out of reach of your artistic preschoolers.
My friend recently recounted a tale in which her four-year-old and two-year-old were playing in her bedroom while she was using the bathroom, when she heard her son making some “bang bang” sounds. She came into the room to find her son had gotten into her nightstand and was waving her adult toy around like it was a gun. If you’d rather not answer the question, “Mommy, what is this?”, about something that you own, then save yourself embarrassment and future therapy bills for your children (they may remember!), and lock it up. (And now might also be a good time to start locking your bedroom door…)
The older, and nosier, that your children get, the more you need to behave like a teenager hiding her diary, her candy, her cell phone, and make out sessions with her boyfriend, in order to keep your life and your belongings safe and private. But I think that if you follow some of my tips, you may be able to make your home a little safer.
What has your pre-schooler gotten into in your home? How have you explained away the embarrassing stuff?