My son recently turned 3. At that very moment (literally!) everything changed.
At 3, most toys are somehow instantly safe. Go down any toy aisle, and the recommended age for toys is 3 and up. Sure helps not to have to worry about him choking on small parts anymore. Or having to order the “3 and younger” toy at the drive through.
At 3, toddlers have their first dental appointment. My son will go Monday. The best part? Parents are told to wait in the waiting room. I don’t have to be the one to restrain him while he’s throwing a fit during his cleaning.
At 3, they see the pediatrician for the annual checkup. Best part? No shots. That changes on the 4-year-old visit, but that’s a whole year away.
At 3, they get to start all kinds of sports. My son and I are very excited about him finally being old enough to be on T-ball and soccer teams at the YMCA this year. Let’s burn off all that extra energy.
At 3, they are officially out of the mommy-and-me swim classes. In fact, parents are not allowed anywhere near their 3-year-olds during swim class. Hooray! No more bathing suits until summer. Which gives me another 2 months to get in shape.
-Erica Smith, Copy Editor
So Christmas has come and gone. Santa has probably brought your kids a toy (or ten) and now you wonder what you can do with all those toys your kids don’t play with anymore or have outgrown. I look at all my son’s baby toys and wonder what I can possibly do with them, as I am quickly running out of room.
I took some suggestions from friends and family and here are a few:
1. Keep them. If you plan on having more kids, you’ll be one step ahead and not have to buy all those toys all over again.
2. Give them to friends. Especially expecting or new parents. It will help cut down the costs for them and you’ll surely win friend points.
3. Consign them. There is a big consignment sale twice a year in Oklahoma City and Norman. It’s the Just Between Friends sale and they take tons of toys, clothing, strollers, you name it. They pay the consignor 65% of the sale. Not bad if you have a ton of stuff and would like to make a little back to put toward future toy and clothing purchases. Go to their Website to sign up or get more information. In Oklahoma City, go to http://okc.jbfsale.com. The sale will be at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds. In Norman, go to http://norman.jbfsale.com. The sales will be at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds. Registration begins in January and the sales are set for March.
4. Goodwill. 84 percent of the revenue brought into the Goodwill stores goes to their employment and training opportunities, which helps people find good jobs. Go to www.goodwill.org or your closest Goodwill store for more information on how to donate.
5. Infant Crisis Services. This local nonprofit helps the youngest of children. If you have baby toys that are gently used, they will gladly take them to give to families in need. You can donate new or good used clothing (preemie to size 6) and shoes, and new or good used toys, among many other items. Call 528-3663 or go to www.infantcrisis.org for more information.
These are just a few suggestions. There are probably many more charities or organizations that can take your children’s used clothes or toys. It’s one way you can keep giving, even after the holiday season is over.
If you have any other suggestions you’d like readers to know about, leave your comments here or email email@example.com. I’d love to share them.
According to the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, injuries kill more children each year than diseases, kidnapping and drugs combined. Children age 4 and younger account for nearly half of toy-related injuries and almost 90 percent of deaths. In Oklahoma, about 130 children through age 15 die each year from unintentional injuries. For every fatality, approximately 45 children require hospitalization and 1,300 require emergency treatment.
These are numbers that aren’t to be taken lightly. The health department offers these tips when purchasing a toy to keep those numbers as low as possible:
1. Always consider the child’s age and maturity level. Purchase a toy suited to the ability, skill and interest level of the child.
2. Toys intended for children older than age 3 should never be given to infants or toddlers. They may have small parts that pose a choking hazard. Children younger than 3 should not be given toys with cords or strings longer than 12 inches. Cords longer than this can get wrapped around a child’s neck.
3. Children younger than age 8 shouldn’t be given toys with sharp edges or toys that run on electricity (not including batteries).
4. Older children should be taught to keep their toys away from younger siblings.
5. Look for well-constructed toys. Check the toys periodically for broken parts that should be repaired or thrown away.
6. Consider the weight, size of the toy.
7. Make sure toys do not contain toxic paint or lead.
8. Costumes or pajamas should be labeled “flame retardant/flame resistant.”
9. If you give a child a bike, roller blades, skateboard or scooter, don’t forget to include safety gear like a helmet, knee pads and wrist guards as part of the gift.
If you started holiday shopping early, you can also check toys to be sure they haven’t been recalled since your purchase. Go to www.cpsc.gov to be sure they aren’t on the list. And if you have children of your own, I highly suggest signing up for the website’s email announcements. As soon as a toy or other children’s item (such as clothes, cribs, etc.) is recalled, they let you know via email, complete with pictures of the items, where they were sold and when, and what to do with the recalled item.
Holidays are supposed to be a joyous and happy time, especially for the little ones. Let’s all be extra diligent in keeping it safe for them. If you have any other good safety tips, comment here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My son just got a dirt bike. He’s 15.
Apparently, my husband and I lost our minds at the exact same moment. I knew we were slowly driving each other crazy over the years, but I never thought we’d simultaneously snap.
Because of our mental lapses, our son now has a shiny new dirt bike. Well, it was shiny for the trip home and for a brief time in the garage. Then, he rode it. Now, it has a nice scrape along the side, and both signal lights have been demolished. Oh, and he’s proudly sporting a skinned elbow and knee.
We live in the country which gives my son plenty of grass to ride on, and for that, I’m grateful. Of course, when he crashed the first time, he was turning around on the concrete driveway. Funny how that works.
I had a flashback to my own childhood as I watched him tearing across the yard a few days ago. I was raised on a farm and we were around dangerous equipment all the time. I was a kid when seatbelts didn’t exist unless you had one of those “fancy” cars, and even then they were usually buckled and stuffed between the seat cushions. We rode in backs of pickup trucks and sitting on sides of a tractor. We stood on the running board of the big grain trucks as we bumped and jostled our way down to the grain bins or out to the cattle pasture. When the family drove to the swimming hole (yes, that’s what we called it), my dad would put a board across the bed of his truck for kids to sit on. And, the day it hailed on us … well, we just held up the big towel Mom threw back there for us to use as shelter.
Which makes me wonder? How did we survive?
Believe me, I’m not advocating riding in a car with no seat belt or putting kids in the back of a truck. It’s a different time. Things are faster and there are more cars on the roads. The world seems more stressed. The only road rage I ever knew about in my childhood was when you were driving down a dirt road and the car coming toward you didn’t ease over enough and give you both room to pass. And, even then, the road rage manifested itself with only a curt nod to the other person … no smile, no howdy.
Believe me, I’m as cautious as the next parent. When my son was growing up, I dutifully put him in a car seat. I walked him to school to protect him from strangers and I didn’t turn him loose to play in the neighborhood sight unseen. I don’t believe it takes a village to raise a child, I believe it takes parents.
But, now he’s a teenager and has a dirt bike. There’s no car seat on that thing. He is required to wear a helmet, not only be me, but by state law. Thank goodness.
Like it or not, I see that he’s growing up. He’s taller than my husband, wears a bigger shoe, and he’s shaving. I can’t always protect him. He has to be given responsibility to make wise decisions. All I can do is keep medical supplies handy … and pray.
Any parents out there who’ve been down the dirt bike trail with their kids? I could use some advice.
- Guest contributor, Judy Hooper, The Oklahoman