This week’s guest blogger, Megan Blandford, is a former career girl, now work-at-home mum and writer. Megan is mum to a preschooler and has a tiny one still inside her. Megan says she likes writing so much, she made it her job. She also loves to travel, daydream, bake sweets and make lists for everything. She blogs at writingloud.blogspot.com
BABY STEPS: Being there with young kids as they navigate their way through road safety is important, as is providing them with the building blocks for future safety when you’re not always there.
When my daughter was what she considered to be a grown-up and independent two-and-a-half year-old, we had a very real and very loud argument on the side of a busy road.
My parenting philosophy is quite focused on choosing battles, so I’ll let a lot of things go. However, this particular day the argument was over her refusing to hold my hand across said busy road.
Road safety is most definitely a battle I believe to be worth fighting.
That day we stood at the side of the road as she threw the most enormous tantrum (I think it still holds her record for the worst one), and I waited it out until she decided to calm down and listen to me. Okay, so that never happened – instead I eventually picked up my still-tantrumming toddler and carried her across the road – but it was so memorable that she’s never again made a fuss about the rules for crossing roads.
When it comes to kids and cars there needs to be not just vague boundaries, but very definite rules around what is and isn’t safe. Here are some we use in our family:
Holding hands across roads
As mentioned above, this is one we have always stuck to, and will do until our daughter is a bit older. As well as holding hands I always ask her to check roads before we cross, to get her into the habit of checking for herself rather than always relying on mum or dad to decide if it’s safe. Being there with young kids as they navigate their way through road safety is important, as is providing them with the building blocks for future safety when you’re not always there.
Don’t trust your life on a light bulb
This is a pearl of wisdom from my Dad, and applies to drivers as well as pedestrians. When a light turns green, it is not a signal to be blindly trusted. Always, ALWAYS take a couple of moments to look around you before entering any intersection, and make sure your kids are aware of this little – but vitally important – piece of knowledge. When that little man turns green when you’re about to cross a road, you and they still need to look in every direction to check the cars have stopped.
Seeing someone arrive at our house is always exciting to my daughter, but the rule in place is that she isn’t allowed past a specifically set point (there’s no room for error if you remove the vagueness) until the car’s engine is switched off. We also have our front door bolted high enough that she can’t reach, so that even going outside to that set point requires an adult’s supervision. When it comes to keeping kids safely away from cars in driveways, no precaution is ever too much.
Car park safety is similar to driveway safety; that is, children and moving vehicles shouldn’t be together without constant adult supervision or restraint. The aim is to get the kids strapped into their car seats before you unpack things like shopping bags and prams. The NRMA recommends never leaving children alone in the car, so only do this if you’re still around the vehicle.
Keep the kids with you
One of the NRMA’s messages is to keep your children with you at all times when you’re out and about. Leaving kids alone in the car can be a dangerous decision, so even if you’re walking away for just a few minutes you should take the kids with you. Better options, though, include using petrol stations where you can pay at the pump or, if you’re more organised than me, ducking out when the kids are with another carer or at school to fill up the car.
Who’s in and who’s out?
If you have more than one child you should give some thought to the order in which you place them in and out of the car. As a general rule, younger children should be the first out if they’re easily restrained or held and all kids should be in and out of the car via the door closest to the kerb.
Inside the car
Being around cars outside is a real danger; however one that is often underestimated is having children inside the car without an adult. Child safety locks on doors are vital, as is protection against kids locking themselves in. Keep your car keys on you at all times, and if you have a child who loves playing with them consider having a set of keys that are unrelated to the car (old keys, for example) for toys instead.
What rules do you set for your kids to keep them safe around cars?