While it’s not essential that you swap homes with families similar to your own, if you have kids it’s great to swap with a family with children near the same age as yours. This can make your exchange much easier as both your homes will be geared up for the needs of children. It is more relaxing to swap homes with a family that understands as you do that sometimes, even in the most kid proof homes, things can accidentally get broken. It’s also a real benefit to have toys, books and games already there for your kids to play with (and baby/toddler equipment if needed)! However, not every home exchange situation may be ideal and so there is a small chance that the home you exchange to will not be as child friendly as you would like. Here are some tips on what to do to help keep your kids (and the home) safe.
Choosing a Home near a Beach or with a Swimming Pool
Staying in a home close to a beach is a great option, especially if the home is not ideal for your children to play in as, if the weather is fine, you will likely spend most of your time outside by the water and swimming or boating. There should be plenty of other activities nearby including hiking/taking walks, biking, picnics, or having fun in parks and playgrounds.
Take extra care if swapping to a home with a swimming pool. Although having access to a pool is a definite advantage, before agreeing to an exchange, ask potential swap partners about safety features and also ask to see photos of the pool. You should then be able to judge if staying in the home will be a safe choice for your family.
Move Breakable Objects Out of Harm’s Way
Once you get to the home, it is usually pretty easy to tell whether it has been readied for kids to live in. There may still be a few things you need to do in order to make sure it is safe for your kids and also avoid damage to valuable items. Although most people will lock away anything that they don’t want you to use (especially when exchanging with a family with young children), if you do find expensive looking artworks, antiques, or family items that could be at risk, it would be best to move them to where your kids can’t get them. Don’t forget to put anything you move back exactly where you found it before you leave at the end of your vacation. If the only dining sets they have are fine china, it might be best to go get cheap or plastic dishes at the nearest grocery store.
Make Rooms ‘No Entrance’ Zones
If there is an entire room filled with objects that could be dangerous to your kids, or your kids dangerous to it, then it would be best to just make it an off limits zone. If there’s a door, keep it closed the entire time and do not allow your kids to enter it. If there is no door, it would be good to move a piece of furniture, if you can, to block off most of the entrance and tell your kids that there will be consequences should they enter the room. It is always good to reiterate to your kids that you are guests in someone else’s home and that it needs to be treated with respect.
Understand that Accidents Will Happen
No matter how careful you and your kids are, accidents can happen. Hopefully your exchangers have children as well so they understand, and made sure that their and your insurance will cover damages to personal belongings and to the home. If something is damaged while you are staying in their home, always own up immediately, offering to pay for the object to be replaced or fixed. Your hosts will appreciate your honesty; they may not ask for money or a replacement but, if they do, act promptly, preferably before the end of the exchange.
It’s always good to leave a thank you note to your exchange family to let them know how much you enjoyed staying in their home. Many home swappers leave a little gift too – something unique from your own area (like local specialty food or drink) is always a lovely way to show your appreciation!
Guest post written by Naomi Broderick, a professional writer who adores her three children. When she does not have to watch her kids in the front yard she loves to cook and write for ProtectYourHome.com, a leader in home security.