Hosting wee holiday guests? 7 safety steps for grandparents

Hosting wee holiday guests? 7 safety steps for grandparents

Family gatherings at Grandma’s house are the stuff seasonal songs are made of. Grandparents delight in hosting extended family for festive events, no doubt. But for grandmothers and others who typically see far less toddler traffic the rest of the year, the increase in visitors can be a bit unsettling… and potentially unsafe.

If you’re one of the fortunate ones hosting a houseful of young’uns for festive fun, consider making the following alterations while putting out seasonal decorations to ensure holiday gatherings at Grandma’s are as merry and bright—and safe—as can be.

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A cautionary tale: Look before they leap

Poor Bud — and Brianna — learned a painful lesson the hard way not too long ago. A lesson in something I never really considered, as a parent or as a grandparent.

See, on a recent sunny day, Bud and Brianna headed to the local skatepark. Bud, a budding skateboarder, was excited to spend a couple hours trying out a park he'd not yet frequented. (Truth be told, I think he had frequented very few skate parks — if any — since his passion for boarding began.)

I had babysat Bud that morning, and he mentioned several times the fun he looked forward to that afternoon.

To say the kid was pumped is an understatement.

After lunch that day, Brianna and Bud headed to the skate park. As soon as they arrived, Bud could contain himself no longer. He quickly donned his helmet, grabbed his board, and raced to his first obstacle: an awesome, amazing, yet seemingly (relatively) safe jump.

It looked like this:

skatepark obstacle 

Bud figured he'd go up the angled ramp on the front side and down...

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Beyond the pits: Grand kids and good canines

Once again, the tragedy of a child having been bitten in the face and disfigured by a dog has made the news. And, naturally, it's a pit bull that did the disfiguring.

The "naturally" isn't commentary on the nature of pit bulls; it's commentary on the nature of the media. Dogs of all breeds attack and maim children and adults at an alarming rate—4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year per the CDC—yet it's those stories featuring pit bulls as the bad guys that make the news. Every time.

The recent horrible story locally involved a nine-month-old baby and the pit bull owned by the baby's grandpa. I have an eight-month-old grandson. And I have a pit bull. Well, he's only part pit bull, the other part seemingly pointer, but it's the pit part that freaks everyone out. Naturally. And it's the pit part in the dog that recently bit that poor baby that likely, sadly, influenced the decision to euthanize the dog.

LylaI'm not going to tell you pit bulls are the sweetest and most misunderstood of dogs. That can be the case, but as is the case with all dogs, much is attributable to an animal's upbringing and environment, not just their supposedly inherent traits. I will tell you, though, that my pit bull, Mickey, is the least likely of our dogs to hurt one of my grandsons. Our other dog, Lyla, because of torture the poor rescue dog suffered, torture which we'll never know the details of but that clearly messed up the mutt's mind in oh so many ways, is far more cause for concern around my grandsons just because she's so skittish and unpredictable.

Regardless of predictability or pedigree—and I've said this here before—kids and dogs, especially dogs that are not used to kids, are not a good mix. Should not mix. At all.

That's a hard thing for grandparents, I think, because we dearly love our canine babies who reside in our home day in, day out. When the grandkids visit, we want the grandbabies to get to know our canine babies, play with them, become friends with them, love them like we do.

It's not that simple, unfortunately.

I recently wrote an article for another publication on this exact topic. Here are some of the points from that article in hopes it might help prevent a tragedy similar to the heartbreaking one—for the baby and the dog—now getting top billing in the local media:

  • Baby gates are key. As a long-distance grandma, my grandsons visit my house only a few times a year. When they do, we make use of baby gates. Lots and lots of baby gates throughout the house, separating our human babies from our canine babies. It’s not ideal, but the alternative is to have no dogs at all, which doesn’t sit well with this pet-loving grandma.
  • Pets should be provided a quiet, out-of-the-way room during gatherings with extended family. Though some pets may enjoy socializing opportunities, others will be overwhelmed by the excitement. Be sure yours has access from his quiet place to his bed, toys, and water.
  • Don’t allow grandchildren to give animals treats without you helping out. Kids often don’t understand or follow the standard treat-giving protocol, and dogs may be skittish or overly aggressive in nabbing the goodies.
  • Be sure older grandchildren—who may be tempted to sneak sweets and treats to the family dog—know the rules of what foods are or are not acceptable for sharing.
  • Try to limit the disruptions to your pet’s eating, sleeping, and exercise schedule as much as possible. Animals thrive on routine; throwing things off only adds to their excitement and confusion.
  • Never leave kids and canines together unattended. Your granddaughter and Fido may both be sweet as can be, but all that can change in an instant if your granddaughter decides to dress Fido in play clothes, ride him like a horse, or worse.

Sure, your dog is your best friend and may be saddened or jealous or confused about little visitors taking your time and attention. The most important thing to remember, though, is this: Grandchildren take priority. So regardless of your dog's hurt feelings, it’s always best to err on the side of caution—the side that protects your beloved grandbabies above all else.

Today's question:

What is your No. 1 tip for keeping grandbabies safe and canine babies happy when under the same roof?

Wonder dog

Related Posts with ThumbnailsI'm an overprotective mother with an overactive imagination to match. As time marches on, I've also become an overprotective grandma with little to no change in the activity level of my imagination.


I've always worried about the typical hazards of childhood: SIDS, falling down stairs, falling off bikes, choking on hot dogs or grapes that haven't been cut into appropriately sized pieces. In fact, one of my first posts here on Grandma's Briefs was about recent stats on televisions falling on kids.

But I worry even more about the uncommon, bizarre things that could befall little ones. Things like being trampled by elephants at the circus. Or scarves getting caught in bicycle, motorcycle or automobile wheels a la Isadora Duncan. Or meteors or airplanes falling out of the sky directly onto one's house. Or diseases that are the stuff of Stephen King novels and afflict only 1 in 3 trillion people. Yeah, chances are your child won't be afflicted. But what if your baby is that unlucky one?

A friend of mine used to think I was nuts. I'd ask if she'd heard about this scary statistic or that bizarre news story and she'd "tsk, tsk" and shake her head at her crazy older friend obsessed with danger. Then she had kids. And now she understands my obsession with all the possibilities lurking out there, possibilities just waiting to maim or do worse to loved ones.

I truly thought I knew of all those possibilities ... or at least knew to worry about the possibilities I didn't know of. But Megan recently shared a new one that never even crossed my mind. One that has me on edge and freaking out a little concerned about the safety of my Bubby. It's one of those that falls under the heading of Scary Stuff That Happens To Only One in Three Trillion People -- and it happened to Megan and Bubby.

The other night, Megan was innocently enough grilling chicken on the patio. Bubby and Roxy were playing in the yard, doing typical boy-and-his-best-friend stuff. Until Roxy heard something that piqued her interest and she dashed off to bark at whomever or whatever it was on the trail. She dashed off so fast and furious that she shot rocks across the rock-landscaped backyard. Shot them so hard that one whizzed into the sliding glass door and busted it. The outer pane of the double-paned door totally, completely and instantly became the most beautifully rendered crackle-glass door ever. A now crazy-paned door right in the area my grandson -- and my daughter -- had stood just moments before.

Scary and dangerous and bizarre and all those other things, wouldn't you say?

What's even scarier is that the glass repair guy is booked for several days and unable to repair the door anytime soon. Which leaves just off Bubby's kitchen a broken glass door with the potential to, at any moment, shatter and send life-endangering pieces of glass everywhere.

And leaving -- despite Megan's adamant proclamations that Bubby can't get to it -- Bubby in danger.

Which leaves me in a tizzy.

It also leaves me wondering if Bubby needs to say goodbye to his little friend. A dog able to spin out so quickly that its paws shoot out deadly bullet-like rocks creates a whole 'nother set of dangerous possibilities.

Possibilities I'd really rather not have to worry about.

Today's question:

What's one of your more irrational fears/worries/concerns?

My answer: I worry that I'll finally win Publishers Clearing House and the Prize Patrol will show up at my door at a time I've not yet taken a shower, forcing me to decide if I want the money badly enough to be seen on national television in my jammies, with wild hair and no makeup. What? It could happen!

This post linked to Grandparent's Say It Saturday.