Getting Your Child-Free Home Kid-Proofed for the Holidays
If you don’t have children of your own, having younger family members over during the holidays can be more complicated than you think. A house decorated for adults can be a nightmare of safety hazards for kids, so it’s important that you get your house prepped before the holidays get started.
First of all, you have to understand that things can get broken if you don’t put them away. It has nothing to do with kids being good or bad; it’s just a fact of life that they are active, and not as self-aware as adults are. Sometimes they run around, arms out to the side, and before you know it, crash. Of course they don’t mean to, but if you’re not used to having kids around, it can be both frustrating and scary if things are falling off shelves above little heads. So if you have anything heavy that’s up on a shelf, or anything delicate within the reach of tiny hands, it’s best to package it up and put it away before your sisters and cousins arrive with their children. You definitely don’t want anyone hurting themselves on broken glass, or pulling a heavy vase down on top of themselves.
Something I learned from having a best friend with kids of various ages, is that you have to be aware about what the dangers are for each age group. The toddler, for instance, has an infuriating fascination with electrical sockets, so it’s important to get safety plugs to prevent her from sticking things into the holes. The teenager, on the other hand, has an equally exasperating curiosity about alcohol, and since I have quite a comprehensive liquor cabinet, I found a padlock quite useful to thwart her inquisitiveness. All the kids in between have their own quirks and habits, which change from time to time, so before they come over I always check with my friend to find out if there are any new things I need to be made aware of, and I make the necessary adjustments. One of her younger kids went through a phase where he liked to steal silverware from the kitchen and shove it down the toilet, which is something that never would have occurred to me to take into account. After my friend told me about it, I put the silverware where her son couldn’t reach it, and that averted an almost certain plumbing disaster.
Keep in mind, though, that for kids, an empty house can be a boring house, and boredom almost always leads to trouble. If you do not have any kind of toys or things for kids to do, mention that to the respective parents ahead of time so that they can make arrangements to bring toys with them. If you are going to be having a lot of visitors with children, or especially if you anticipate subsequent visits even after the holidays are over, it might make sense just to pop into a toy store and buy a few things for various age groups. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, but keep in mind that if the kids are provided with things that hold their interest, they’ll be less likely to dig around in places where they don’t belong, which will save a lot of stress in the long run, for everyone involved.
You may think that it’s sad to have to put away a lot of the beautiful things that you took the trouble to buy for your home, but your friends and family have not come to see your house — they’ve come to see you. The best way to make people comfortable is to ensure ahead of time that everyone of every age will be as safe as possible, and that nothing awful can happen as result of your negligence. It is of course impossible to guarantee that little feet won’t trip or that a head won’t accidentally get bonked on a table, but if you make your best effort to tidy up the things you can and hide the little breakable stuff, it makes it a lot easier for the moms and dads in your family to feel comfortable bringing the kids over to your house for the holidays.