Small Children and Visiting Construction Site?

gaonmymindJuly 29, 2012

I have a 19 month old and a 7 week old. I hope to visit the site at a minimum twice a week...but hopefully 3 days. My husband will go on once a week with us, but I am concerned going with the kids by myself. My biggest concern is before the house is drywalled. Like walking through the framing to inspect things.

I have a double stroller that I can roll through, but to get upstairs would be a challenge. I could put the baby in a sling and hold the hand of the other, but still this sounds risky.

Any suggestions on how to handle this. My kids are obviously the priority, but I don't want to be overly nervous or under prepared.

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I would be very nervous about bringing a 19 month old onto the construction site. You could wear your little one in a carrier, although I would even be nervous a little about keeping balance. During framing, there are all kinds of holes and areas to fall, and sometimes it takes a while to get an easy access into the house, I remember balancing on a board until the steps were built.

My kids are old, now 9 and 12, and I never brought them on site while they were working...too much stuff flying around. Of course, they were in school most of the time during the build. Last summer, near the end, I remember having to bring dd with me to meetings there a couple of times, but they were doing final details and it was much less dangerous. At the very least, I would get a sitter for your toddler if you have to be onsite while they are working (I know that might be difficult for your infant, especially if you are nursing.) It would be almost impossible to use a stroller, and you would be distracted worrying about your child instead of focusing on your decisions, etc.. On the weekend, with your dh, it would of course be much easier. One of you could stay downstairs with the babies while the other checks out the upstairs and take turns.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 4:25PM
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Nini804...I really don't want to bring her either but I really have no choice as we will be running a multitude of errands when I go up to the site which is an hour away. She loves long car rides for some reason so that will be ok. But this also means I am gone for 5 hours or so from home when we go up there. So a sitter 3 times a week for 5 hours is not something I want to do. Also we are new to the area so I have not found a sitter I trust.

For shorter trips Grandma is more than happy to sit, but she is 80 so she cannot do more than 3 hours.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 4:55PM
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It depends on the nature of your 19 month old, I think. If he/she is the type to hold your hand and stay close, then it might not be too much of a problem. You could keep the infant strapped into a portable car seat and hold the toddler's hand while looking around.

However if the toddler is the type that likes to run off on their own and stick curious objects in their mouth, it would be best not to take them onsite.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 5:36PM
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My parents built our house and we lived on site in the summer in a pop up trailer. I was about 2.5 yrs old and my sister was 5.5 yrs old.

True story: we were upstairs (my sister and I) and my parents were on the first floor. I fell through the hole that was cut for the chimney.

To the basement.

Where a nice concrete floor had been poured about a week before.

The only thing that saved me was a cardboard box that was fortunately placed under the hole, it had miscellaneous plumbing things in it (elbows, Ts, etc). For the 30 seconds it took between my sister telling my parents, "She fell in the hole!" and my dad running to the basement my parents thought I was dead (my mom was certain of it, I wasn't screaming and she could not move to go check). I just had the wind knocked out of me and got a couple bruises in the fall.

I'm not making this up ... There are a LOT of risks on a construction site and while my parents arguably should not have allowed me to be upstairs with just my sister, it is hard to manage 2 kids and construction issues. And it's a really risky place to have kids present.

I can not imagine what my parents went through in those 30 seconds but if I were in your shoes I would really, really look for another option besides bringing your kids to a construction site where your attention will be divided.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 8:01PM
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wow! scary. I think I will have to compromise. We will go to the site (in a neighborhood so streets paved and what not) and just look at it from the outside until hubby comes up on his day off.

My main thing is documenting it for our memories/blog. I plan to thoroughly inspect when hubby is on site.
We plan to have a timelapse cameras on a trees recording the while build so that will help if I can't get there for pics and such.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 8:27PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Since you will be living there before too long, perhaps this would be a good opportunity to check out local facilities, sitters in the area, get to know the neighbors, etc. perhaps you can find someone locally who will sit with at least the older one while you check the house out.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 9:25PM
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YES, I would be nervous as well with the age of your children. I just have my little girl who is 4yrs and I went by house almost daily and didn't like taking her with me. In the early stages while house was still framed, when I would take her with me, I made her hold my hand the entire time and still wasn't to keen on the idea til drywall went up and there was hand railing on the stairs. With two kids and they ages you say I couldn't see that personally but you may have to get creative. Depending on where you would be parking, the neighborhood, weather and such, if you took both kids up and they were in the car it shouldnt take you that long to get the pictures you want to document your progress. You would be compromising because you would only get quick pics and not be able to actually walk thru the house and take your time since the kids would be waiting but you would have your pics I guess its going to be a compromise any decision you choose.

I think the previous suggestion was good of checking out sitters in the area. You could check them out as your kids wouldn't be with them to long while you are at the house and you will have a head start on sitters in the new area once you move in. If you did a little of both of the previous suggestions you would get your progress pics and be able to check out the sitters in the area as well. Just my .02 cents FWIW! :)

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 11:37PM
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We have two "spirited" children under 4. They stay at home 90% of the time I visit the site. If they do visit the site, they either stay in the car with a DVD or are required to hold an adults hand.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 10:11AM
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We have two toddlers and I do everything I can to keep them away. It's much too dangerous at every stage, though my husband disagrees and has taken each of them. We pay a babysitter when we need to go, which is annoying, but I'd rather do this than risk their safety.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 10:20AM
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Find somone to sit them both for the time.

A house under construction is not a safe place for an infant (no matter how carried) or a toddler.

It is dangerous enough for an adult, especially one not used to being at a construction site.

While some things will have rudimentary guards, they are a reminder to adults to be cautious (like around a future stair run) not protection for a small child.

I had a boss once who managed to break his leg when a stack of drywall leaning against studs fell on him when he futzed with it at his own house being built.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 10:53AM
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Could you check in with a church, school counselor, or senior center and ask--
Is there someone who'd like to be a mother's helper for an hour 3 days a week? (this might include a nice local grandma)

Sometimes, though you don't know who to trust, you can ask for recommendations from "trustworthy sources".

Even having them just take the 19mo old would be a big help, as you could wear the baby.

Or, (this is tricky unless you are practiced in it already)--wear the baby in a front sling and the 2 yr old in an Ergo on your back. Just don't plan to walk on anything that isn't finished--no stairs without railing, and certainly no joists only.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 11:08AM
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We are 4 months into the process and the kids are currently 46 months, 22 months, and 6 months. We have taken them inside the house about once every one or two weeks throughout the process, and until just recently when drywall has been put up, I never went in with all 3 without my DHs help. We also only go when no one is working. The baby is generally just left in his bucket carseat; we don't really worry about him at all. Again, we never take kids inside when people are working, so leaving the baby in a central location while we wander is fine. Earlier in the process, DH and I had to meet ppl at the job site and brought the baby with us (older kids with sitter). We just carried him in the carseat or wore him in a babyhawk. I wasn't interested in being around when stuff was flying around, so baby was always safe too.

We very clearly told our oldest he has to hold our hand everywhere except the basement. Guess where his favorite place is in the new house? Lol.

I thought it would be scarier than it has been with the kids. Baby in carseat, carry the toddler, and hold hands with the preschooler. It's been so hot this summer that the workers have generally started really early and then are done early in the afternoon. We could usually stop in around 5pm without a problem.

I wouldn't bother with a stroller. Too many nails and junk on the floor. Have you mastered wearing the baby and carrying the toddler? If the toddler tantrums, just leave. She'll figure it out. And obviously if she can't handle it, she can't handle it. DH and I have gone over one at a time after the kids are in bed many times.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 1:23PM
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My DS was 7 months when we started and he'll be a year next week. He's gone with me almost every time I've visited the site. Most of the time, DH was with me and DS fell asleep in the car so we would take turns staying with him while the other checked it out. We never took him inside before framing was complete, and he's never touched the ground.

Since then I've taken him a few times by myself. He's now at the age where he wants to get down, so it's becoming more difficult. Will the 19 month old sit in a stroller? A few times I would carry baby + stroller into the house, then put him in and park and lock it while I walked around. Of course, no one was working at the time.

If your house is anything like mine, the framing went fast and those pictures weren't really that interesting. Only so many pictures of 2x4s you need, KWIM? It's more fun now that we're getting drywall, paint, cabinetry, etc.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 4:50PM
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ga - remind me where you are?? I have a FANtastic sitter from Milton, GA (she is a UGA student and a real gem). If you are in the area, I can put you in touch with others. For some reason I think you might be? I would get a sitter to either stay with your kids or meet you at the house and be the "eyes" - construction sites are dangerous!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 10:15PM
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Thanks Athens! I will pm you.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 10:58PM
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Actually email me...your pm is turned off. Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 11:00PM
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My kids are 6 (twin girls) and they visit the site often, but not while the workers are working -- we go on weekends or evenings. They love to look around. But they are old enough to remember not to touch and to watch where they step. We invited my SIL and her 4-year-old twin boys to visit once and it was really nerve-wracking, even though they were well behaved. We probably won't have them back in there until the drywall is up and there's a stair railing, at least.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 12:32PM
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As a parent of 2 small children myself going thru major reno, we do not take ours inside at this stage (framing). Perhaps once drywall is up we'll consider letting our 3 y/o hold our hand for a quick peek inside. But even then, the 3 y/o is going to squirm and not want to sit there while we look at things in detail. So its easier to not have them there, or take turns in the car.

I sympathize with your situation since its so far away and its just you most of the time. But I just don't think its worth risking your children's safety. Accidents happen in the blink of an eye.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 4:23PM
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THANK YOU Every one for your input! It's helped me realize I may be over my head a bit. My husband and I are working on a plan that will allow the needed inspections and keep our kids safe.

As I post in the progress board I will let you know how it goes. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 9:46PM
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Why not just leave the car running and leave the kids strapped in their car seats? You should be able to park right outside the house near a door or large window opening. Of course don't be around while trusses are being set or anything like that, but otherwise that should be fine, and safer for the kids than being in the house. If they're not able to sit there for 15-20 minutes while you inspect (mine wouldn't be, so I understand) buy one of those $100 dvd players and strap it to the seat in front of them. Even if you bought two of them it would be a small investment for the safety of your kids. If you're really a hover parent, buy a baby monitor set (they are all battery powered these days) just for the car so you can hear what's going on in there while you're inspecting the house.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 9:44AM
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Believe it or not, we had my son's entire cub scout den come to our construction site to earn their engineering webelo badge. Wouldn't you know it that every body and their brother showed up! They had to "visit a construction site and study floor plans" as a requirement. I was a nervous wreck- but it went off without a hitch. We were at the framed and wired stage but no dry wall yet- so they couldn't really hurt anything. Thank goodness it went well. We have 20+ acres of woods and streams surrounding and the boys were actually more interested in catching frogs:). Another requirement was to build a bridge, so at least we got a little bridge built!
We left the 3 year old home with grandma that day- but he goes too at least once a week. Sometimes he just stays in the car while I pop in to make my presence.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 12:21AM
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Your kids are young. I think one of the risks is that even if you have tight control of them, you may stumble and hurt your children. Even with some parts of the house with dry wall up, sometimes stairs and railings are not in place. It is difficult to answer builders questions at the same time looking after your kids. A few seconds is all it takes.

I appreciate that you want to check on the house, and hiring a babysiter is a chore in itself and can be expensive. I therefore think a compromise is:

1) Leave the kids in the car. They are contained and you know where they are. Remember to roll down the windows.

2) Ask one of the work guys to watch over them in the car. He / She does not have to go in the car just keep an eye on them.

3) Bring toys etc. Ideally if your car is a SUV or Estate or Wagon. Fold down the seats. Your children are small. You can make a pretty nice play room in the back there for them.

4) Get yourself a set of Walkie Talkies. No license required. About $US 70 or cheaper. Look for one on which you can jam the transmit button down with some tape. The range is about a mile which is plenty. You can then listen in on what is happening in the car while you walk around the house.

Good luck with your build.

Warmest regards, Mike.

Here is a link that might be useful: Family Radios

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 9:04AM
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I hope the OP takes the advice above to heart!

A construction site is not safe for adults--let alone toddlers and babies. At the least, adults should be wearing steel-soled and toed footwear and hard hats and be accompanied by the construction super.

I only allow buyers onto the property at pre-arranged appointments. (If they trespass at other times, I've done everything I can to protect myself should they hurt or kill themselves.)

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 3:10PM
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The OP already took everyone's advice and posted about her change of plans back on Jul 29! :)

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 3:29PM
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