Live long… Laugh often… Love always.
I was sitting on the beach outside of our vacation home and observed something that was odd to me. A mom came to the beach with her three kids. She pulled up her beach chair and her three kids aged 3 to 7 ran off towards the water to go play. These were white kids with blond hair and these three kids were tan, really tan. Not only was I concerned that they were not being supervised by the water as their mom tanned, I was concerned about their skin burning. As I sat there slathered with SPF 30 and my kids covered with unscented, hormone free SPF 50 sun block, hats, sunglasses, and sun shirts playing under the sun umbrella. Then I looked around at the other families frequently applying sunscreen, having their kids in hats, sun shirts, sunglasses, some in full length sun clothing and realized that I was concerned for these kids because it was so odd to see kids that were clearly not being protected from the sun.
I think that within 10 years applying sun screen and sun protection for children will be required by law. This is a huge bet considering when I was a kid; I was a beautiful golden brown and had the Coppertone tan lines every summer. We spent every waking moment outside playing and swimming in our pool and we were usually only covered with our bathing suits. Why apply sunscreen? We did not burn we had great skin color! Now the dangers of tanning have been exposed, the suns rays are significantly stronger with the loss of the ozone layer than they were when we were kids and medical insurance is seeing the hits from increased visits to dermatologists to remove and treat skin cancer in adults of all ages including me, and my great tanning skin.
Why would I bet that this is going to happen? Look at how social pressure to live healthier lifestyles has changed from just pressure to laws in the last 15 years. Seat belts are required by law. It started out as a lesson that schools taught kids to remind us to put on our seatbelt and to pressure our parents to wear their own seatbelts. Now law in most states requires seat belt use. If I see a toddler or young child walking around a vehicle clearly unbuckled, I have no problem calling the police to see if they can stop that vehicle and protect that child in the future. It is not the child’s fault they are not buckled in, it is the parents responsibility.
How about smoking, this was another lesson taught to children in schools to go home and teach their parents the dangers of smoking and the dangers of second hand smoke. I have two friends who have children that pressured them out of smoking so I know how well that campaign worked. Now the pressure has changed into a law in Minnesota. We have no smoking laws indoors in Minnesota to protect non-smoking adults and children from second hand smoke, now people can only expose and endanger their children with second hand smoke at home.
How is not protecting your children from the harmful rays of the sun not endangering them? It is proven that sun exposure is dangerous and causes skin cancer. Untreated skin cancer can kill you, so why is this something that is not regulated like smoking or seatbelt use or any other neglectful situation that parents put their children in? Parents and caregivers neglecting to apply sunscreen and sun protection to their children can lead to skin cancer. As more skin cancer is treated and medical costs rise for something that is easily preventable with an easily acquired sunscreen lotion or sun block, I believe the simple social pressures to protect our children will become legal requirements to protect our children.
Is this idea far out there? I don’t think so. I will be for it to be a law to protect children until they can make their own decision to wear sunscreen or to tan.
I am very fortunate to be able to have my full time job be taking care of my children at this point. But it has not always been that way, I have had both of my children in daycare situations. My son was in a home daycare for the first 9 months of his life. I know how hard it is to find a good daycare with a safe home and a daycare provider you like and trust. It took me months and dozens of interviews to find the right people to watch my children, but even with the research I did, there were still things I did not like about my kids day cares. There were many days that I would pick up my son and he would be sitting in a baby swing, I wondered how long he had been in there? When he was not strapped in the baby swing, he was in an exersaucer, the play yard, the crib or high chair. I felt like he was strapped in to something the entire day.
Now that I am a professional mom, I go on outings with my kids multiple times each week. We go everyplace I can think of to teach them fun things and get them exercise. While I am out I frequently encounter day cares out on their field trips and I am occassionally really saddened and frustrated by the way that some of the kids seem to be strapped in the whole time.
I brought my kids to an indoor playground a few months back, the daycare lady had 5 kids with her, 3 kids that were old enough to climb on their own in the play structure, and the little 2 kids were strapped into the double stroller the entire two hours of her outing. One of the kids spirit was broken and she just sat there bored in the stroller with no toys to play with, and the boy who was the same age as my son, wanted to get out so bad he would go through spurts of trying as hard as he could to get free and then would just sit there and cry. The two kids could have played in the toddler area or with balls in the gym area, but it was easier for the daycare lady to keep them strapped in place and wait for 2 hours.
Last summer I watched a daycare woman who always seemed to bring her daycare kids to the outdoor splash pool the same days I went there. She would have about 5 or 6 kids, she would leave the two little ones strapped into the double stroller while she texted on her phone and the other 3 or 4 kids would be supervised by the lifeguards so she could have a break. The little kids would have loved to be in a swim suit and splashing around like the rest of the little kids in the pool but they were stuck there. I see this all the time at the zoo but at least there they are usually moving around and can at least see a change of scenery, not just parked in one place for hours.
Today I saw something that made me so angry. A woman had 6 kids in her home daycare and she always seemed to be in the same room I was in at the Childrens Museum in St. Paul. There was one boy who was the youngest in the group who she kept buckled into the double stroller the entire time she was there. It was so sad because this is a place where you are supposed to touch and explore things to learn and she had a 3 year old stuck in the stroller so he could just watch the other kids have fun. He kept asking can I please get out in this room? Then he would push and pull and lift up his butt as high as he could but he was strapped in so tight he was not going anywhere.
I know there are many day cares who don’t strap the kids in and they figure out how to manage all of the kids and let them all have fun while they are on an outing. Unfortunately, there are the bad daycare providers who believe in strapping the little kids in to make them easier to control and monitor in public. It makes me wonder if they think that is OK to keep the kids stuck in one place in public, what do they do when nobody is watching?
Why do I write this? If you have a kid in daycare please ask what the daycare provider does with the little kids when they brings the kids outside, to the park, or on a field trip. Ask specifically how long they think it is OK to keep a kid strapped in during the day. If they are one of the daycare providers that strap kids in most of the day, you might want to reconsider your choice of day cares.