It wasn’t until I had a small curious child of my own that I realized all of the mistakes I made as a young, single adult visiting a friend with small children. Behaviors that are commonplace when visiting another friend can quickly turn into a safety hazard around small children. In fact, if you don’t have a lot of experience with a toddler, you have no idea how quickly they can go from sitting quietly, innocently looking at a book, to standing precariously on a chair elbow deep in a cookie jar up on the counter. An eye-shut-sneeze is all it takes for the little toddler wizard to poof themselves into a room 20 steps away.
To help my non-parent friends out, I’ve listed a few do’s and don’ts below that I hope to acquaint them with to make their visit as stress-free and as safe as possible for my family.
Text when you arrive.
This one may be an unspoken rule that most of my non-parent friends are well aware of, and breaking it is the quickest way to make an otherwise pleasant evening fraught with tension. When you arrive, try to text first. Don’t ring the doorbell. And, give mom and dad a few minutes to get to their phone. If texting doesn’t work, try knocking next. The young monster may have just closed their eyes for a nap and ringing the doorbell could start this entire process over again — and cause lots of screaming and turmoil for all who enter.
Don’t leave sharp objects out or at the edge of counters.
This was a huge mistake I made as a single lady. I left a pair of scissors on a countertop of a friend’s house who had a toddler. That feisty little boy found them as SOON as I left the room, and to my horror I saw him RUNNING down the hall with them. When I tried to coax him into returning them, he instead proudly wielded his sword and gleefully swished it through the air at me.
Please, don’t be like me. Don’t leave knives, nail files, scissors, glassware, or ANY harmful object on a countertop or remotely within reach.
Put the toilet lid down and shut the door.
Toddlers LOVE playing in water, and what better place than the toilet? Unfortunately children have drowned attempting to reach down into the seemingly harmless pool of inviting water. Being head heavy, toddlers can, upon reaching into the toilet, fall in head first and lack the strength to push themselves back out. For this reason, ALWAYS close the lid and, for added safety, shut the door too.
In fact, be aware of other seemingly small, harmless bodies of standing water too – including coolers with melted ice. Get your drink, and shut the lid tight.
Ask the parent first before offering food.
Many children today have food allergies, some severe. Others may still be choking on certain foods even with a mouth full of teeth. Before allowing a big-puppy-eyed-begging toddler a few bites of the snack in your purse, ALWAYS ask the parent. Plus, mom or dad may not want to introduce certain foods or drinks to their child until a certain age.
Lock and close outside doors after coming or going.
Kiddos LOVE to be outside and some will surprise you with how well they can reach up and pull a door open. If you go outside to grab something out of your car or for other reasons, pull the door shut behind you, and when you come back in, re-lock the door. It only takes a few seconds for a child to discover an open or unlocked door and run out, sometimes without being noticed.
Don’t leave your purse on the ground.
Purses contain so many dangerous items for a toddler: sharp nail files, pocket knives, small choke hazards, medicine, and more. When you come in the house, resist the urge to place your purse within reach of a small curious child. (Purses are a favorite for toddlers to rummage through!) Instead, kindly ask your host where you can store your purse while you visit.
With these in mind, my hope is that we can bring awareness to potential dangers when visiting a home with small children. What other tips do you have for visiting a home with small children?
Photo Credit: Haley Kinzie Photography