I HAD the pleasure of looking after a 3-year-old on Thursday morning. She wasn't well enough to go to kindy in the morning so she came and visited me while her mother was sitting an exam. I haven't had a little one in my house for years and I suddenly panicked that my house was not very child-proof.
As a young couple about to start a family you are gently eased into the child-proofing process. As your child grows you make changes in your home to cater to a growing inquisitive little person. And years down the track with the kids having left home you don't have to think of those things anymore.
I must admit when our kids were growing we did have some mishaps as we weren't always as prepared as we should have been, especially when it came to securely fencing the section.
There weren't always enough hours in the day to do what was required as we were full on with a DIY renovation as well. One of the most memorable prompts we had to secure our section was when Hamish, all of about 18 months, escaped. We had a well fenced area with the latch of the gate too high for him to release, so we thought.
I was very pregnant and we had spent the morning in the garden and he had been my little helper.
I thought perhaps he had wandered inside and put himself to bed and when I went into check he wasn't on his bed or on the couch.
I then started to go through the house looking under the beds in the wardrobes and behind any places he liked to hide. He wasn't anywhere in the house and by this time I was starting to panic as he had been climbing things for a while and I had this horrible dread that he had climbed over the gate and out on to the road.
After ringing David at work and breaking the news to him about having lost our first born I went back outside and tried to retrace what we had done that morning.
Then I heard a laugh and followed it. Here was Hamish quite happy playing with the neighbour's cat on their back porch. He was completely oblivious to the major panic that I had been in.
Dusty the cat had been in our section and he had followed him through a hole in the base boards of the deck, crawled under the deck, under the house, popped out the other side, over the driveway and through the hedge. He was covered in dirt from having crawled under the house.
Lesson learned, small children crawl through small gaps and will follow a pet anywhere. With the panic over the base boards on the house they were quickly finished off that weekend so that we would have no more escapees.
When it came to securing things in the house I tended to put child-proof locks on the laundry and bathroom cupboard doors only.
This was mainly due to the fact that we lived in a small house with hardly any storage up high so there was nowhere to put cleaning agents and the like so we just secured the cupboard doors. Our door handles were low as well, being a villa, so we couldn't just shut a door because door handles could be opened at an early age. It took a while to get used to the locks and often I nearly ripped door handles off trying to open them.
I never secured kitchen cupboards but taught the kids that they were out of bounds.
They never held anything that was going to harm them anyway so I saw no point in locking them.
I think too often we go overboard with securing areas and kids don't learn what they can and cannot touch.
I was fortunate that neither of my kids drew on walls or peeled wallpaper off, they were definitely inquisitive and pushed boundaries but we always encouraged lots of play and positive activities.
Definitely limited the TV, and I refused to buy a PlayStation and when we finally did get a computer that was limited as well.
One of the most important things we did was put a slide bolt on the top of the back door. Hamish was a sleep walker and we woke one night to find he had taken his toys to the end of the passage and was sitting inside the back door playing in the dark. He had been able to open the door for a while now and we had a dreadful feeling he might just open it in his sleep and wander outside.
So consequently we secured the door so this couldn't happen.
Fortunately for me I never had to put ornaments or treasured items up high. As they were part of the decor the kids never seemed to think they were toys, apart from a stereo unit I had on the fridge.
Hamish had seen me put cassettes in to play from time to time and one day he dragged a chair up to the fridge climbed up and parked one of his little matchbox cars in the cassette recorder bit.
Posting little treasures was always a favourite past time, fortunately the stereo was the only thing that got damaged.
Fortunately for me, having a 3-year-old in the house again who was feeling a little under the weather went well.
Hamish and Bailee's Duplo train set came in handy and we built a village and she was quite happy playing away if I was close by for an occasional cuddle. Such a pleasure to have her for the morning and she was quite happy to stay with me.
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Terry Lobb is an interior/kitchen designer and personal colour and style consultant who takes a holistic approach to living with colour, texture and style - email: email@example.com; website: http:// terrylobb.com