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Getting to school safely is important and for us, this means walking (sometimes involuntarily running!)
Yay, we made it through the first half of the term, we’ve settled into our new school and honestly the little guy is loving it. I’m still not driving (yes, yes I know!) so we’ve moved on from finding ways to have fun on the nursery run to having fun walking to school. But now that the little guy is a bit older, we’ve had to learn and pay a lot more attention to road and walking safety because we have to cross quite a few, which in the rush hour can get a little tricky.Before I get to my tips I wanted to share a little “incident” that happened the other day, it was honestly a terrible parenting moment for me but maybe it will make you feel a bit better, and then you might understand why I feel the need to figure out some safety tips.
Up until now I have always let my little guy walk ahead a bit and stop and explore when we are walking (I have always insisted on holding hands when getting to the road) but otherwise he has had some leniency because he has always been sensible. As we were walking out of the school gates and he trotted off excitedly as he does and was singing along laughing at some of his friends trying to catch up, but this time he didn’t stop, he didn’t even look, he paid no attention and walked straight into the road. Now, there was no car, traffic or danger as I shouted for him to step back but that isn’t the point. It is the first time he did it and my heart sank because I lost a little trust and faith and definitely felt like a shitty parent.
It was definitely a parenting low for me because I had relaxed and not considered walking safety as an issue, I didn’t look at the situation and I certainly couldn’t have done anything about it if something would have happened, but honestly, I think it was more excitement than anything else which meant that he was blind to the road and just walked out. At least I hope so, because I am not sure I can deal with another scare like that and this is obviously the reason that they don’t recommend children walk on their own to school before the ages of 9 or 10 (the way I feel at the moment he won’t be walking alone…ever!).
The thing is, if there was a car, I wouldn’t have been close enough to stop it and the unthinkable could have happened and so it has definitely prompted me to think more about our walking safety and what I should be doing better as a parent too! So here are my tips for back-to-school walking safety because we have definitely learned our lesson and you should take something away from this like I did without having a scare of your own!
To avoid any incidents like this happening again we have some new road rules for walking safety, I don’t want to be the kind of parent that wraps them up in cotton wool but at the same time he needs to earn the trust back, so for now these are the rules we are enforcing.
- Stop before the curb starts – This is to avoid them going right up to the road edge, plus that way if a car mounts the curb or if a truck with large wing mirrors is very close he is still safe.
- Stop on a corner – When the road turns a corner and you lose sight of each other then that is the point that you stop. If he is allowed to run further ahead he is not allowed to be out of sight because then I have no control or ability to deal with whatever may happen. Yup overprotective again! sorry, not sorry.
- Hold hands crossing the roads – he’s 4, he has to hold my hand whether he is crossing a driveway or a road because aside from the fact that it is safer, it makes him think twice before crossing without me in the future because he will be used to waiting to hold my hand. Also, the amount of times a car will come barreling down the road while we are in the middle and we’ve had to stop is unreal and holding hands can help to stop suddenly.
- Avoid crossing on tight corners – it can be very difficult for drivers (and yourself) to see around the corners and it gives you very little time to stop or get out of the way because a turning car doesn’t have as much control. Instead, walk into the road a little as it straightens if possible and then you can cross more safely.
- Don’t let them walk too far in front – Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing! Something I have definitely learned because you can’t reach them although I do feel like there is a certain amount of freedom that should be allowed still.
- ID – I know this one is a bit sinister but for older kids walking on your own (and yourselves as parents) carrying around your ID or an emergency contact card can really help if anything happens. This isn’t just limited to the kids either, if something happens to you on the way to pick them up who will contact the school, your loved ones or make arrangements? The same goes for kids, if anything were to happen you would want to know ASAP so make sure they have some sort of identification and emergency details.
- Discuss it – Make your kids understand the dangers without trying to turn it into a fear, they should respect the roads without it making them anxious. So talk to them about the different stages of crossing, why you look or listen for the cars to see/hear if any are coming. We like to recite this sometimes to help it stick in our brains to look both ways: “Look both ways before you cross, and that’s the way you won’t get squashed” and it makes light of the situation while reinforcing the importance of looking.
- Make a track – I don’t know about you but my little guy loves trains and cars so we draw an imaginary line in the pathway and try to keep in the half futhest away from the road side. We pretend that we are trains and have to stay on the tracks which drastically reduces the likelihood he will trip and fall into the road. Also it is great for keeping over to one side on the busy school run to let people past
Lastly, my biggest tip here is “don’t rush” – I’m talking to you parents! Our lives are busy, hectic and we are always thinking of the next thing we need to do. Don’t rush to cross a road or get home without thinking about your (or your child’s safety) one second is all it takes for something devastating to happen and nothing in the world is worth that. So if you take nothing else away from my overbearing, overprotective mothering post (still not sorry) then just calm down, don’t rush and be safe. For other great safety tips check out this post on getting to school safely by SimpliSafe who helped inspire me to write this post!