A recent hotel stay with Raffles and Sugarpuff shocked us into the realisation that just because our kids are no longer toddlers, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t still be child proofing holiday accommodation.
You see, Sugarpuff decided to hide under the bed (because hotel room hide-and-seek is one of her all-time favourite pastimes) and what should she find but “a packet of Tic Tacs, Mama.” Indeed it was a Tic Tac container but we can only assume what the small white pill inside it actually was because it was quickly disposed of.
While we’re lucky that our kids know NEVER to put anything in their mouths unless they have our express permission, imagine if that wasn’t the case. The thought of my three-year old scoffing someone’s left behind recreational pharmaceuticals shakes me to the core. So now it’s back to being hotel room vigilantes.
While a lot of hotels are taking precautions for their younger guests, think about the time, money and effort it took to baby-proof your home. There is no hotel, motel or holiday apartment that will go to the same effort, and some make no effort at all.
Little kids are curious and keen to explore, and new environments only create temptation, so if your little one is mobile, the first thing a parent should do on arrival at their holiday digs, tired or not, is check and child proof. And just because your kids are getting a bit older, and allegedly wiser, it doesn’t mean that they’re immune to danger. In fact after our little experience I would advise child-proofing holiday accommodation until they’re at least 35, just to be on the safe side.
Whether you are holidaying with tots or tweens, here are our top ten paranoid parenting tips for child proofing holiday accommodation.
1. On the level – Try to book a room on the ground floor. If there is a balcony make sure you keep doors locked and move the furniture away from railings to keep tots from clambering over.
2. Get down, get down – Get on your hands and knees and scan the floor (including under the bed) to make sure there isn’t anything unsavoury that the cleaners may have missed that could end up in your child’s mouth.
3. A little perspective – Take a look at the accommodation from a child’s perspective as dangers can be overlooked when examined from adult heights.
4. Locked-up – Keep hotel windows shut and use the lock (if there is one) on external doors to avoid your toddler heading off on an adventure without you. Just before his third birthday we stayed in one “family-friendly” resort where the low handle on our apartment door (that had no lock on the inside) saw Raffles wandering straight out onto a busy road while I was cooking his dinner. We ended up having to wedge the door shut with cutlery to keep our errant tot in. We’ve carried a roll of industrial strength duct tape ever since (a few artfully placed strips are just strong enough to keep a door from being opened by a small boy).
5. Socket to ’em – Keep in mind that local socket covers wont fit in international power points, so if you’d rather your kids didn’t end up rocking a ‘do like Albert Einstein, use the aforementioned duct tape to cover sockets.
5. Room renos – If you’re travelling with a very young child be careful of sharp edges on low furniture. Duct tape a cloth or cushion to the corners or just ask the hotel if it can be temporarily relocated. You should also check that larger and heavier items are well secured to prevent them toppling onto young children, and move anything breakable from low surfaces.
6. I’m with the band – Hair elastics and Elastic bands are another on-the-go child-proofers BFF. Use them to tie up blind cords which are a strangulation hazard. Elastic bands are also awesome for shooting at your partner once the kids go to bed. My tip is to aim for bare skin.
7. Running with scissors – Check kitchen drawers in holiday apartments as they are more often than not full of sharp knives, scissors and even matches – all within reach of curious little fingers.
9. Slippery when wet – I’m amazed at how slippery so many hotel bathroom floors can be. Be sure to keep floors dry and use bath mats so your kids don’t slip and fall. In one hotel I had to use a towel on the floor in the actual shower as the floor was too slippery for the kids to shower safely.
10. Shock it to me – While talking bathrooms, be sure to unplug any electrical appliances like hairdryers and store them out of reach.