Note from Hint Mama: One of the most stressful parts of traveling with young kids? It’s not how to entertain your little ones during hours of travel in the car or on the plane. Rather, it’s how to keep your children safe at vacation destinations that aren’t childproofed. The good news is that there are loads of easy things you can do during the first five minutes of your stay to childproof Grandma’s house, that vacation rental or your hotel room, no expensive babyproofing products required. I’ve covered a bunch of travel childproofing tips in past hints, and today’s hint is a few more frugal tips in a guest post from Brianna Bell, a writer and mom of two in Ontario, Canada.
Like most young children, my daughters are thrilled when we announce that we’ll be piling into our minivan to visit their grandparents. I would love to squeal with the same high-pitched delight, but I know that I’ll be spending the first few minutes after arrival scrambling around my parents’ house, trying to kid-proof the home as quickly as possible.
After a few years of practice, I’ve learned some easy ways to frugally childproof a travel destination, whether you’re staying at a vacation rental for a week or visiting Grandma and Grandpa’s house for an evening. My tips make up today’s hint.
1. Take all breakables and move them. As soon as I enter my parents’ home, I give Grandma a hug, and head toward the glass duck on the floor, and the enticing ceramic globe within head height of my 3 year old. I move all 1980s breakable décor and place it out of reach of my children’s curious and destructive fingers. Of course, once we return home after a safe visit, I’ll receive a few phone calls from the grandparents asking where I put their collection of Precious Moments, the dusty rose ceramic flamingo and that vase of faux flowers.
2. Create a contained play space using DIY baby gates. To avoid moving every breakable throughout the home, I try and keep certain rooms “off-limits” by closing doors and strategically placing furniture to create an enclosed play space for my children. It’s amazing what a couple of chairs, a coffee table or an ottoman will do, when placed with perfectly engineered precision, to protect a child from the perils of long winding staircases and the liquor cabinet.
3. Have a container of special toys. A basket or box of special toys at Grandma’s house can help keep your little ones away from any cat and dog toys (I know this from experience), plus your children will be entertained and busy while you enjoy adult conversation. Now, I just save myself time and skip packing toys for my kids, because I have the special toy basket at Grandma’s.
If you’re not traveling to Grandma’s house, put out some special travel-only toys (or kid-friendly non-toys like travel brochures) in the dedicated play space you created – the toys should help keep your children distracted away from less-safe spots.
4. Know the many DIY ways to childproof cabinets. My 3 year old recently pointed to windshield wiper fluid and asked if she could have some juice. I’m not sure why the most toxic chemicals come in the most enticing colors, but that’s one more reason to keep such chemicals out of reach of your children. Hint Mama, and Hint Mama contributor Leslie Neeland Harvey, have already covered how hair ties can work great for “locking” cabinets containing toxic chemicals and other items you don’t want your kids getting into. A shoelace or thick string tied tightly can be used too, or you can try what I think is the ultimate safety hack: Use a baby linking toy to tether cabinet doors together (see the images in this post, and a hat tip to Pinterest for this one).
5. Cover outlets. Unplug what electronics you can, and use tape or Band-Aids to cover outlets in high traffic areas. If a cord that can’t be unplugged is getting in the way and seems like it could easily be mistaken for a jump rope, try using things like pillows, blankets or cushions to cover it.
6. Load the dishwasher smartly. Most people loading a dishwasher aren’t picturing my perfect child playing with knives sticking straight out of the utensil caddy. This sort of dishwasher loading is a recipe for disaster, and I have played out related horrors in my mind over and over. This is why I always load sharp knives blade down in the back of the utensil caddy, as far from little children as possible, and I encourage others at my destination to do the same. Having a serious conversation with your family about closing the dishwasher when it’s not supervised is important too.
To be sure, as the childproofing experts will tell you, there’s no replacement for supervision. Still, the above tips can help you feel at least a little more secure during your next trip.
What tips for frugally childproofing on-the-go did I miss?
Brianna Bell is a wife, mother of two young girls and freelance writer. She spends her limited free-time reading, writing, and adventuring with her family. You can find her blogging at Brianna Rose Blog, and on Facebook and Twitter.