Since pond-gate (which I’ve been talking about on my social media but have as of yet to write about with the hack that happened to the blog last week – Edie fell in the pond for those of you that don’t know) I’ve put a lot of thought into garden safety for toddlers. It was traumatic. She’s fine, I’m considering counselling. I have joined Adam in the ranks of the neurotically charged mama bear. In our little tribe, Adam has always been the worrier when we are out with the kids whereas I am laid back to the point I’m almost horizontal. I have three kids to chase around after, and I’m a firm believer in giving kids the chance to blossom, to learn, without an adult hovering. I’m not totally crazy, I have certain rules – don’t go out of sight, don’t talk to strangers, no going near water without at adult (looking at you Edie Rose, looking. at. you.) etc.
Now we have had a major fright with Edie falling in the pond – when I was in the kitchen and the kids were playing in the garden ( which is thankfully in view of the kitchen window so I was out there like superman on acid) – we have started to examine the safety features around the house and I thought I’d share the things that we feel we need to change – will you share your ideas too please? Maybe we can all keep our kids safe together!
Can you see the kids when they are outside? If not, maybe you need to think about whether or not they are old enough to go outside alone. I feel like I could trust Reuben to behave and not go near anything I thought was unsafe, but Toby not so much. I can see my kids from my kitchen sink, so if I’m in the kitchen cooking I watch them through the window. I can’t see them from my office so I take my laptop outside and “supervise” whatever random activity the kids have cooked up this time. If I go to the toilet, I’ve always told Reuben to “keep an eye and shout me if anyone needs anything I will be less than 2 minutes” but I’m panicked now and take Edith inside with me. It isn’t fair to lay that responsibility on a 5 year old.
Vines, wire for planting, swings, pull cords… god there is a plethora of things that your kids could get tangled up in that are just normal in a garden. Not to freak you out, but rather raise awareness for the potential dangers, I would suggest sweeping through your garden and making sure that the children can’t get near anything that they could get tangled in – we had some wiring for tall plants right by the climbing frame… I just never saw it as an issue! Parenting fail number 203.
Gates and escape routes.
Much like an over enthusiastic puppy, kids (especially those rambunctious toddlers) have a natural ability to escape their confines. We have gone through everything and made sure that our gates are locked or properly latched with the latch out of reach for Edith. Similarly, with nightmares that she might burrow like a rabid bunny through that old hole in our fence, we’ve patched it up and made it safe.
Ponds and bodies of water.
You can read my thoughts on garden ponds in my previous post, and I still stand strong with those thoughts. I don’t think that a garden pond should automatically be filled in because you’ve had a bambino. Rather I feel that I need to change my attitude of trust towards the kids, specifically Edith. The old “don’t go past the barrier” isn’t enough for her, so I have to either stay outside with her or unfortunately ban her from going out with her brothers. The boys I still trust as they genuinely adhere to our rules… One thing I would say is don’t get a “child friendly” cover – it only teaches young children that they can go over ponds and has often caused an issue where a child has slipped under.
Do you have them? I will never forget a friend of mine falling into a poison ivy plant as when we were kids, she was left with an absolutely horrendous rash and was in agony for days. With that little peach of a memory in my mind, I’ve never had poisonous plants in my garden, even though some of them look beautiful. We also do a “we don’t eat/touch plants we don’t know” talk every time we go to the woods… and while I’m on the subject of poisonous, let’s just be a touch cautious around snakes if living in the countryside shall we? I took the boys on a woodland walk and we were staring at a little snake we found, only for Adam to go ape-shit when I showed him the pictures of the boys stood a mere foot away from the snake and bending down to look at it, as it turns out it was an adder. They were a frequent visitor to his parent’s home and as a result from a VERY young age, he knew snakes were a “run like usain bolt is chasing you” kind of bag.
Climbing and falling.
Not a lot you can do about this one is there? The best thing I would suggest is doing a quick scout to see if anything can be removed or barricaded to prevent climbing, if not, just repetition of the boundaries is the only thing to do!
So, there are your 6 tips for making your garden safe for kids from your now friendly helicopter mum… add your tips below and we can all enter the realm of nervous wreck together!