This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and tips about protecting our families. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
My husband and I met through our love of the outdoors, we were both working at the same place, an outdoor activity centre introducing young people and sometimes adults to climbing, canoeing and the like. We have both ceased to work in outdoor centres but continue to do these activities ourselves, particularly canoeing and we owned two kayaks when our eldest was born. We both felt that we really wanted to continue to walk, camp, climb and canoe with our children at a level that was suited to them, to introduce them to the activities and enable them, if they wanted to, to become proficient at them themselves.
We took each of our children canoeing for their first time at a really young age, around a year. We chose a local lake as it is still water, in a canoe both chosen to remove the chance of tipping over. A canoe is a very stable boat (unless you are in very turbulent waters) and it also provides plenty of room for any kit you might need and all of us! The children wore lifejackets which are designed to float the wearer on their back should they fall in. Since their introduction we have taken them on many trips, to local lakes and rivers. We have also completed several expeditions, carrying all our equipment and food in the boat, including the Caledonian Canal.
You might be reading this and thinking we are mad taking children out so young on water. Water is inherently dangerous but only if you don't assess the risks and manage them as far as you can. If a child falls out of a canoe, in still waters, in a lifejacket then the worse thing that could happen to them is they get wet. My children have both learnt to swim this summer but both of them have always been very confident in the water. They are not frightened of it. I believe this is because we have shown them that it is possible to be around water even when you cannot swim, enjoy it and stay safe.
I remember running a canoeing activity at a weekend summer camp for young people, my eldest was about three at the time and spent the whole day on a jetty, playing wearing his lifejacket. I stayed on the bank (it was a very small lake) supervising him and the activity. Several adults who I encountered watched him and wondered who he belonged to, they were worried that he was close to the water, when I asked them what they were worried about I was informed that he might fall in. Yes indeed he might and he will get wet, but he will not come to any harm as he is wearing a lifejacket. Sadly they felt I was irresponsible to allow him to play in that way, he didn't fall in all weekend he felt safe, I trusted him and I had assessed the risks hence the lifejacket.
As our children grow older we will continue to canoe together as a family. Now that they are both swimming we have bought them Bouyancy Aids and taken them swimming in a lake so they could test them out. We hope to take them on what we call moving water, a river with a current that you can see, and the sea. We may introduce them to kayaks too if they want to. All this we will continue to do at a pace they are comfortable with to keep them safe and enjoying what they are doing.
We are lucky that as we have skills in canoeing ourselves we can take our children out but if you haven't then find someone who has. Canoeing is not a risky activity unless you do not take sensible precautions and consider your risks before setting out. It is fun, honest!
Visit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon September 10 with all the carnival links.)
- Stranger Danger — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares her approach to the topic of "strangers" and why she prefers to avoid that word, instead opting to help her 4-year-old understand what sorts of contact with adults is appropriate and whom to seek help from should she ever need it.
- We are the FDA — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger makes the case that when it comes to food and drugs, parents are necessarily both their kids' best proponent of healthy eating and defense against unsafe products.
- You Can't Baby Proof Mother Nature — Nicole Lauren at Mama Mermaid shares how she tackles the challenges of safety when teaching her toddler about the outdoors.
- Bike Safety With Kids — Christy at Eco Journey In the Burbs shares her tips for safe cycling with children in a guest post at Natural Parents Network.
- Spidey Sense — Maud at Awfully Chipper used a playground visit gone awry to teach her children about trusting their instincts.
- Water — sustainablemum explains how she has used her love of canoeing to enable her children to be confident around water
- Safety without baby proofing — Hannabert at Hannahandhorn talks about teaching safety rather than babyproofing.
- Coming of Age: The Safety Net of Secure Attatchment — Gentle Mama Moon reflects on her own experiences of entering young adulthood and in particular the risks that many young women/girls take as turbulent hormones coincide with insecurities and for some, loneliness — a deep longing for connection.
- Mistakes You Might Be Makings With Car Seats — Car seats are complex, and Brittany at The Pistachio Project shares ways we might be using them improperly.
- Could your child strangle on your window blinds? — One U.S. child a month strangles to death on a window blind cord — and it's not always the obvious cords that are the danger. Lauren at Hobo Mama sends a strong message to get rid of corded blinds, and take steps to keep your children safe.
- Tips to Help Parents Quit Smoking (and Stay Quit) — Creating a safe, smoke-free home not only gives children a healthier childhood, it also helps them make healthier choices later in life, too. Dionna at Code Name: Mama (an ex-smoker herself) offers tips to parents struggling to quit smoking, and she'll be happy to be a source of support for anyone who needs it.
- Gradually Expanding Range — Becca at The Earthling's Handbook explains how she is increasing the area in which her child can walk alone, a little bit at a time.
- Safety Sense and Self Confidence — Do you hover? Are you overprotective? Erica at ChildOrganics discusses trusting your child's safety sense and how this helps your child develop self-confidence.
- Staying Safe With Food Allergies and Intolerances — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is sharing how she taught her son about staying safe when it came to his food allergies.
- Don't Touch That Baby! — Crunchy Con Mom offers her 3 best tips for preventing unwanted touching of your baby.
- Playground Wrangling: Handling Two Toddlers Heading in Opposite Directions — Megan at the Boho Mama shares her experience with keeping two busy toddlers safe on the playground (AKA, the Zone of Death) while also keeping her sanity.
- Letting Go of "No" and Taking Chances — Mommy at Playing for Peace tries to accept the bumps, bruises and tears that come from letting her active and curious one-year-old explore the world and take chances.
- Preventing Choking in Babies and Toddlers with Older Siblings — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now gives tips on preventing choking in babies and toddlers along with Montessori-inspired tips for preventing choking in babies and toddlers who have older siblings working with small objects.
- Keeping Our Children Safe: A Community and National Priority — September has many days and weeks dedicated to issues of safety; however, none stir the emotions as does Patriot Day which honors those slain the terrorist attacks. Along with honoring the victims, safety officals want parents to be ready in the event of another disaster whether caused by terrorists or nature. Here are their top tips from Mary at Mary-andering Creatively.
- A Complete Family: Merging Pets and Offspring — Ana at Panda & Ananaso shares the ground rules that she laid out for herself, her big brown dog, and later her baby to ensure a happy, safe, and complete family.
- Be Brave — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about helping her kids learn to be brave so that they can stay safe, even when she's not around.
- Catchy Phrasing — Momma Jorje just shares one quick tip for helping kids learn about safety. She assures there are examples provided.
- Know Your Kid — Alisha at Cinnamon&Sassfras refutes the idea that children are unpredictable.
- Surprising car seat myths — Choosing a car seat is a big, important decision with lots of variables. But there are some ways to simplify it and make sure you have made the safest choice for your family. Megan at Mama Seeds shares how, plus some surprising myths that changed her approach to car seats completely!
- I Never Tell My Kids To Be Careful — Kim is Raising Babes, Naturally, by staying present and avoiding the phrase "be careful!"