Child Proofing for Safety and Respect
Child proofing your home before the arrival of the grandkids might seem like an unnecessary and arduous task. I believe that it is an opportunity to keep people safe-- both physically and emotionally-- and to model respectful behaviours. Child proofing also allows you to break from the 'familiar'-- an opportunity to 'step outside of the box'-- and focus with fewer distractions upon these precious little people in your lives.
If you are a new grandparent to an infant, you will be delighted to know that sticking away all your creature-comforts and fine ornaments won't have to happen for a few more months.
For crawlers, toddlers, and explorers, I personally would attend to the items on the following checklist:
Clear as much space as possible, with a critical eye towrards sharp edges on coffee tables, splinters on surfaces, openings into 'forbidden' rooms, staircases, cellars, or the great outdoors. There are door-knob restrainers that work well (as long as you yourself know how to use them).
Put up safety gates on staircases and other places where there are dangers, or babes and small children can be monitored in a restricted 'corral area' or a "play pen". Supervision is always a "must".
Pay attention to fireplaces and electrical cords and outlets.
Remove plants that are within reach or that might be pulled over
Put any chemicals and other toxic substances out of reach, preferably out of the living space. This was a time that sealed my own commitment to becoming more "green".
Lock cabinets that contain medicines and other such substances (such as essential oils, toiletries and cosmetics).
If you can't do it yourself, hire someone to put doorstops on all cupboard doors. In my kitchen I left one cupboard as the children's special cupboard where they take out and put back various toys and recycled kitchen items so as not to feel deprived or rejected by the adult kitchen inhabitants.
Do a good thorough cleaning, including floor cleansing and carpet cleaning, if required. Use non-toxic cleaners.
Consider the toxicity of personal habits: do you want to visit your grandchild in your home, or do you prefer to smoke in the home and bar her/him so as to not expose them to that poison? Same goes for alcohol.
What about pets? We will talk about pets and grandkids in another section, but for safety-sake, take a good look at what the pet's behaviours are likely to be around a small, unpredictable baby or child. What other arrangements can you make so as to have a safe visit with your grandchild? Remove feeding supplies from the floor and be scrupulous about hygiene.
Do not leave children unsupervised for one minute!
Put all breakables and 'precious' items (special books, trinkets, treasures, heirlooms, etc.) safely out-of-reach
Electronics and appliances are off-limits unless you are there to hold them on your knee. I know that it is cute that my 2-year old granddaughter can load her own DVDs, but there is also risk of harm.
Whenever possible, review THE RULES OF GRAN'S HOME and post on the fridge. Explain that these rules are for safety and respect for everyone. Ask if there are other 'rules' that should be included... children will appreciate being respected enough to be asked to contribute. This is the place where it is okay for them to say, "Gran, there is NO SMOKING in the house while we are here." or "Gran, Jimmy can not eat peanut butter or he gets really sick." Naturally, you will want your adult children to be part of the "rule-making" as well.
Take a good look around your place and pretend you are a visitor only three feet tall... what attracts you to explore? The garbage bin? The porcelain doll collection? How do you respond to the idea? If you are at all uneasy, then put them elsewhere during the period of the visit. What might be used to "climb up on to____" and what might be easily pulled over? Barricade them or remove.
And after you have stripped your place clear as possible of any hazards and thoroughly child proofed each child accessible space, then ADD IN ITEMS that will provide comfort, joy, interest, color, security, serenity, pleasure, health, well-being and safety for your wonderful little grandchildren.
Don't forget that YOU are the most important "object" in your home... share generously. Neither of you will ever regret the time you have together that is safe and serene.
Find a collection of Child Safety resources here.