Summer is full of blissful and often uninhibited fun. It's a time of the year when we let all of our cares go (or try to), and pour every ounce of our strength into keeping our kids happy and active during the long, sun-drenched days of the year.
It's worth every moment of our own that we have to put aside, and every drop of gas it takes to cart them around - to the park, the ice cream shop, or even soccer games. But in all the hustle and flow of the summer, we can tend to lose track of our sense of safety.
Our kids want to run around shoe-less and with as little clothing on as they can get away with. They want to ride bikes, climb everything, and put up a concerted fight when they are told that they have to wear helmets, life jackets or shirts -- basically anything that will restrain or inhibit them.
Don't give in, though. Kids are often much smarter than we are, because they are always thinking two or three steps ahead of us. They know that if they act before we can figure out what they are doing, nine times out of ten we'll let them out of exhaustion.
But even the most simple things can bring a strong, energetic kid to his or her knees in a puddle of tears (or often worse). No kid is going to emerge from the summer without a few head knocks, knee scrapes or even a stinging sunburn or two. We as parents aren't fast enough - nor are our eyes strong enough - to keep our kids within safe sight at all times.
My oldest daughter will turn 3 in about a month. She is already a force of nature (that is to say, hardly controllable). Everything she does is at full speed, with reckless abandon. She frequently stumbles and tumbles around. She has gotten tougher for it; she cries less now when she takes a fall. But I am not a gambling man; I do not plan to continually play those odds.
If not now, when will I be able to slow her down enough to help her realize that she needs to make more of an effort to consider her surroundings when she is at play? As we know, once our kids figure out that they can control their own destiny (and often us), there isn't much we can do to turn them back.
So, take a day or even just an evening, and make a check list of everything you need, have or should do to summer-proof your kids. It can be as easy as buying a new bottle of sunscreen (I just bought several: one for the house, the shed in the back yard and a couple for my wife's baby bag and mine). But it can also take some thinking in order to set your kids up for a safe summer.
My wife and I just got one of those baby pull-behind rickshaw things for our bikes, and had a heck of a time finding a helmet for our infant daughter (Sweet Bikes on Ford Road is where we eventually found a helmet for our eight-month-old.) It's worth the effort, though, in the long run. Peace of mind is priceless.
So, the moral of this rambling story is that you can never be too prepared when it comes to protecting kids from themselves. An ounce of effort can save them a ton of pain. Even if it's just making sure the shovels, yard trimmers and extension cords are safely tucked away, you'll thank yourself when your kids are bounding through a hazard-free back yard.
Heck, you may even find that you've mined some time for yourself with all the hard work.