The Kid Rules

November 25, 2017

There’s no question about it, we’re in love with this place. It’s Thanksgiving weekend and we’re hanging out in Maryland with lots of family, which is great. But it’s hard not to yearn for views like these..

But there’s another side to this view that’s worth talking about. We live on the water with kids that are 5, 3, and almost 1 year old. They’ll grow up around water here and at the beach, and they’ll learn to swim like fish. Maureen’s cousin Scott was a BB lifeguard, and at 3 Eric already thinks this is super cool. But in the meantime, a canal with a swift current and no fence calls for some caution.

Oh Shit

In fact, we realized quickly that the house also has some other features that we need to be very careful about. To be clear, we’re not the normal crazy helicopter parents. We never really did gates on stairs or cabinet locks or any of that. But the beach house has some definite “oh shit” places. These aren’t just normal kid hazards like a fireplace mantle or a rug to trip on. These are places that result in broken bones or worse.

  • The canal (we said that already)
  • A second story deck..
  • ..With a hot tub on it
  • A second story balcony and long railing
  • Floating stairs

So when we came down for the first weekend, we committed to setting some rules right away. The first evening when we got there, we hung out as a family and let our kids explore with us. We knew the first night would be full of excitement and happiness, and we didn’t want to miss any of it. I think Eric said “Daaaaad, this is sooooooo cool” about 20 times. Addy found about five great places to set up her Barbies. And Maggie just crawled around smiling.


The next morning it was time to sit down with the kids and discuss some of the beach house rules. We explained that there were some things that were a little scary, and that these aren’t bendable rules - they’re absolutes. The good news is that our kids mostly have a healthy respect for these things (heights and water) and, so far, have embraced these rules. Here they are:

  1. Kids aren’t allowed in the backyard without a grownup.

    Our backyard is fenced in, and there’s a gate on the stairs down from the deck. If they want to be in the backyard, there has to be a grownup with them.

  2. Life vests on if you want to be near the water or on the dock.

    Want to look for crabs or sit on the dock? You’ve gotta have your vest on. We keep them in a little basket by the backdoor for them and presented them as beach house gifts when they got them, so they think they’re pretty cool.

  3. Kids aren’t even allowed to touch the hot tub.

    The hot tub cover is held down and secured with strong straps. It takes a good amount of strength to take them off and then lift the top. Even when it’s closed, they’re not allowed to touch it. This prevents them from climbing on it, and it removes any slippery slope where they ask to use it or get in with us (we usually use it after they’re in bed anyway). If they do touch it, they lose their deck privileges.

  4. No playing or touching the upstairs balcony.

    Our master bedroom is on the main floor and the kids bedroom is upstairs. We were nervous about this, but hoped it would work out. So far so good! Our biggest concern was the long upstairs balcony that’s open to the living room below. It has a sturdy railing, but Eric is a boy and thus a heck of a climber. We made it very clear that absolutely no monkey business is allowed in the upstairs hallway. They do have their sleeping bags up there in a cozy corner for reading, but it’s a chill area.

  5. No playing on the stairs.

    This was a rule we added a bit later. Our stairway floats, which means kids can slip right through the stairs and down. This didn’t seem like a big deal, until they decided it was cool to sit on the stairs backwards with their legs dangling through. Nope, not allowed.


Five rules so far. Simple enough for them to follow and stay out of any major trouble. They’ve found a ton of other spaces in and under the house that have kept them very busy. They love riding bikes and scooters in the garage area.

We’ve added one other precautionary measure to the backyard, and that’s a PoolGuard on the gate going down from the dock. If anyone opens the gate and doesn’t click a button on the PoolGuard or leaves the gate open for longer than 10 seconds, a piercing siren will sound to alert us in the house (and the neighbors a few blocks away). It’s loud and annoying, but I definitely recommend it if you’ve got water you want to keep kids away from. Worth a bit of annoyance.

Amazon Link: PoolGuard Gate Alarm

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