Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Safety: Trick-or-Treating Tips!

image courtesy of Stuart Miles/

We at Travel-Tot know that Halloween is traditionally a time for costumes, parties, parades, and treats; however, safety is never far from our minds! Sadly, CDC data shows that almost four times as many children (age 5-14) are killed while walking on Halloween evening compared to other evenings of the year.  In addition, numerous children are injured every Halloween; particularly by slips and falls. The good news is that most Halloween-related injuries are preventable if parents closely supervise school-aged children during trick-or-treating and remember a few basic tips. 

Children should be instructed to:

  • Go only to well-lit houses.
  • Never enter houses.
  • Travel in small groups, with an adult.
  • Carry a cell phone and know how to reach a parent and call 911.
  • Have their name & phone number printed on their costume (or use a SafetyTat).
  • Bring treats home prior to eating so they can be inspected for tainting/spoilage.
  • Wear reflective, flame-retardant clothing.
  • Use face paint instead of masks.
  • Avoid wearing hats that will slide over their eyes.
  • Avoid long, baggy, or loose costumes or oversized shoes.
  • Avoid carrying sharp or rigid costume knives or swords.
  • Use flashlights, stay on sidewalks, and avoid crossing yards.
  • Cross streets at the corner, use crosswalks (when available), and avoid crossing between parked cars.
  • Stop at all corners and stay together in a group before crossing.
  • Always look left, right, and left again before crossing the street.
 Parents should:
  • Supervise outings for kids under 12.
  • Prepare for trick-or-treaters: clear lawns and sidewalks, place jack-o-lanterns away from doorways.
  • Avoid giving choking hazards (i.e. nuts, gum, or small toys) as treats to young children.
  • Inspect all candy for safety before it is eaten.
  • Ensure the safety of pedestrian trick-or-treaters.
  • Make sure children under 10 are supervised as they cross the street.
  • Drive slowly.
  • Watch for children in the street and on medians and sidewalks.
  • Exit driveways and alleyways carefully.
  • Have children exit cars on the curb side, not on the traffic side. 
Have a safe and happy Halloween!
-Destination Mom

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fall Family Fun!

Fall is one of the best seasons to have fun as a family: not only because of the beautiful scenery in areas where the leaves are changing, but because of the myriad of fun, inexpensive, old-fashioned, family activities that abound!  Add to that how beneficial it can be to take a little escape from the stresses of a new school year and you have the perfect recipe for fall family fun!

image courtesy of Aduldej/

1. The Fall "Staycation"

This kind of get-away doesn't need to be complicated or expensive. With fall colors at their peak, a scenic drive, hike, camping trip or visit to a farm can be a real treat! Consider checking your local area for seasonal carnivals or festivals which generally have something fun for everyone!

2. Festive Decorations

No time for a get-away? A day of crafty activities to decorate your home for the season can be tons of fun (some great craft ideas can be found at the All Kids Network)!  Visit local farms (or other retailers) and grab some hay bails, pumpkins, apples, gourds, and flowers. Collect leaves for various crafts, make a scarecrow as a family, paint or carve some pumpkins, create stamps, bake something delicious! Serve seasonal snacks; drink cider, snack on pumpkin seeds, and enjoy the crisp fall air. Let the kids get messy and run around; it's a great chance to let them flex their creative muscles and burn off some energy!

3. Dining Al Fresco

Another great day activity can be a local fall food tour!  Check out local farm stands, wineries, and festivals to savor some great fall favorites: festive cupcakes, apple pie, pumpkin pie, cider donuts, pumpkin ravioli, apple cider, pumpkin seeds, jams, etc..  Consider bringing home some fresh produce to try a new recipe!

A little planning can help ensure everyone enjoys themselves no matter how you choose to spend time together! Have older children make a list of places they'd like to visit and activities they'd like to try. Stay flexible, but try to have a plan in place to keep the fun going!  Most of all relax and enjoy your time together making memories.

Safe and happy fall fun!
-Destination Mom

Friday, October 14, 2011

Boo! Travel Horror Stories...

We all have at least one: a travel memory we wish we had never made... 

For most of my friends, the memory is punctuated with a torrent of vomit or explosive diarrhea.  While I was lucky to dodge those bullets, there is one trip that stands out in my mind as particularly horrible.  One cold October when my daughter was two years old, we took a quick overnight trip from northern New Jersey down to Virgina (just outside Washington, D.C.) so that I could attend a good friend's baby shower and my husband and daughter could visit his sister in the next town.  It was the first long car trip we had done as a family and we were thrilled when our daughter didn't seem to suffer from motion sickness and slept for much of the journey - we figured with a full day of active play under her belt, we'd have no trouble with a small modification to her sleep schedule.

Then we checked in to our hotel. 

To start with, the place was laden with loose cords and open outlets, sharp edges, and accordion closet doors; all immediate draws to my curious toddler.  But worst of all the hotel room's door had about an inch of open space between the bottom of the door and the threshold, so not only could we hear EVERY sound that was made outside (and since we were right near a highway, there was plenty to hear!), but there was a steady stream of cold air pouring in from beneath the door; and conveniently, as it poured in, it created a high pitched screaming whistle. 

With all the noise, cold air, and "no-nos" in the main room, my daughter literally passed the entire night dancing in the bathtub singing and going between tantrums from being sleepy and hysterics from being overstimulated by the distractions in our hotel room.  It was like being trapped in a tea kettle at the north pole with the Tasmanian devil. 

Somewhere around 4:00 am my husband and I decided that no one was going to get any sleep that night; so we packed up our stuff and left to drive home.  I would estimate that I drank enough tea to keep a small nation awake for about 6 months, and between my husband and I taking turns at the wheel, 5 hours later we managed to arrive home... where my daughter promptly fell asleep.  That was the first and last "quick overnighter" our family ever attempted; but on the bright side, four years later, it is a funny story and a valuable lesson about the importance of thoroughly researching the hotel before you book!

Safe, happy, and horror-free travels!

-Destination Mom

Friday, October 7, 2011

Grandparents and Childproofing: "The Talk"

image courtesy of imagerymajestic/
Sadly,  many  new parents say they don't want to bring their children to stay at grandparents' homes because there are so many hazards and the space generally lacks basic childproofing.  So how do you tell your parents (or in-laws) that you don't want to visit because you fear for your child(ren)'s safety?  Delicately, but firmly.

As kids, we all cringed when our parents delivered the "there comes a time..." talk to us.  No matter the topic (money, driving, sex, friends, etc.) it all came down to one simple lesson: accept personal responsibility for keeping yourself and those around you safe.  As parents, they had the benefit of the most up-to-date information on how to prevent the tragedies that could happen, so it truly was in our best interest to heed their advice (even if only grudgingly).

The same principle will apply when you have "The Talk" with your own parents (and in-laws) as a parent yourself.  In years past, young parents relied upon their own parents' experience almost exclusively to determine their parenting practices; however, the dawn of the information age has expanded the available knowledge base for new parents and has helped raise awareness of methods for keeping infants and young children safe (not to mention the medical and technological advances that have been made over the last 30 years!).

Heartbreaking statistics show that accidents remain the leading cause of serious and fatal injury to young children; changing everything from the way we select car seats to how we childproof our homes.  Sharing this information, along with your concerns for maximizing the enjoyment of visits by minimizing the stressors, can help ease the discussion's tension.  Below are two common scenarios you may encounter and suggestions for diplomatic responses.

  • The "we raised you without all that stuff and you lived" mentality.  It's true, anyone reading this survived childhood, perhaps with just a few bumps and bruises, or perhaps with more serious injury; but why gamble with any child's safety? 
  • Assure your parents that you are not attacking their parenting style or ability; share with them that by taking a few simple steps to childproof their home they would have more fun with their grandchildren because they would spend less time saying "no" and more time enjoying the visit.  Also (but only if its true!) let them know that childproofing would increase your comfort level during visits and may result in more frequent visits!
  • For resistant parents, offer to bring your own childproofing supplies and take them with you when you go; it may be cumbersome, but it's worth it if it helps smooth familial tension. 
  • If they are truly resistant, suggest visiting at a park or in your own home instead; not ideal, but you have to stand up for your child(ren)'s safety - you would never be able to forgive yourself if your child(ren) suffered injury or death because you acquiesced to save someone hurt feelings.
  • Your parents or in-laws don't understand, don't have space for, or cannot afford "all those fancy gizmos."
  • As mentioned above, you can transport and install your own safety items each time; or, consider offering to buy a childproofing kit, like the compact one developed by Travel-Tot, featuring an assortment of outlet covers, corner guards, pinch guards, and cabinet/door securing devices to be stored at grandma and grandpa's house for visits (minimizing what you need to carry along)! One of the nicest features of Travel-Tot's Travel Childproofing Kit is that the adhesive is temporary, so it goes on strong, but comes off clean without damage to finishes or furniture!
When you confront your parents or in-laws, firmly, but politely make it clear that while you do want to be able to share the joy of their grandchildren with them, your child(ren)'s safety is your priority.  Precious few bonds are as important as those between children and grandparents; and those bonds will only be strengthened by having open and honest lines of communication about important issues like safety.

Safe and happy travels.
-Destination Mom