What’s that smell?
When Erin’s son was three, he liked to help her cook. As they cooked, Erin would explain the steps along the way, including how to turn on the stove burner. “A few days later, he was watching cartoons in the morning before preschool while I took a shower. When I get out of the shower I smelled something really good—uh oh! I walked into the kitchen, and he had pulled a chair from the main dining table and pushed it up against the stove. He had peeled a banana, sliced it with a butter knife and put it in a pan. He had climbed on the counter and gotten down cinnamon and sprinkled it over the banana in the pan, and butter out of the fridge and added it too. And he had turned on the stove! The fried banana was good, but three years old? Whoops!” Erin’s parenting advice: “Don’t show your kids how to turn on the burner until you’re ready for them to do it alone.” And her bigger takeaway? “I need to give him more chores and he should cook for me now!” (Check out other incredibly dangerous safety mistakes even smart parents make.)
Take a breath
Jessica’s daughter, age two, was refusing to eat her dinner. “She would only eat it if I fed it to her,” Jessica says. “I was frustrated because we had all finished dinner at least 15 minutes prior. So I’m feeding her the chicken and I see her chew and open her mouth again, so I keep giving her more and more until she’s eaten all of it. I go into the kitchen to put her plate in the sink and hear her start to choke. Luckily my husband was there. She had kept all of the chicken in her cheeks and tried swallowing all of it at once.” Jessica’s daughter was fine, but it taught her a parenting lesson she hasn’t forgotten. “I think when we are first-time moms, we try to keep life going like we did before kids, constantly moving. We don’t realize that we need to just slow down, breathe, and embrace our children in our new slower-moving world.” (In the meantime, it pays to know some basic first aid for choking.)