In the carpark, she stood with hands on hips and a look of intense frustration that was all too familiar. Why wouldn’t they listen? Why was it so hectic to take her kids out with her? When did she become so hesitant to venture on family outings for fear of losing her cool – or one of them?
Was raising kids this stressful for everyone, or was she the only one not coping with this thing called parenthood? She was frazzled and she was far from alone. In fact, she knew there were many times (like this one) where she knew very well she was looking like a crazy person, and was sure she was being judged as such. While she didn’t really care what others thought, it still hurt to feel like she was constantly stressed or cranky and she didn’t want to be the cranky Mum. She wanted to enjoy her time with her kids and she wanted to feel like she was doing a good job as a parent.
She looked at D and wondered how on earth he managed to retain such a level of high intensity energy – and mischief, stop just wasn’t in his vocabulary. Then there was number four – super-fast and unpredictable at the best of times and seemed to love stirring his brother at every opportunity. And it wasn’t just the little ones; her eldest son was in another world all together - his world and sometimes this meant he wasn’t even aware of his surroundings, let alone danger. All this just stressed her out and she often structured her day around not having the kids with her – but not today.
She sighed as she fumbled for the car keys and attempted to keep these busy kids close to her and their own car and away from the dangers of the road and other vehicles, while watching the middle child and placing one foot on the shopping trolley and the other leg around D to keep him from lurching in the path of anything moving. She just didn’t seem to have enough patience or hands, and they had very little comprehension of road and vehicle safety or any care for it either. It was no wonder she was going grey from the stress of trying to keep these guys safe. It was no wonder she found it easier to not take them out with her these days. Something had to change.
It wasn’t from lack of telling them either. Every day – the same message – stay here, don’t go yet, wait for me, hold my hand, watch for cars – but these busy little beings had other agendas, they were egocentric (knew only how they thought, felt and what they wanted to do). As an educator, she knew that kids learnt best from repetition and structure, which was great ‘cause she had to share the same message over and over like she was a stuck record. She also knew that with time, they were likely to become less busy and more present, but for now, this was it and it was stressful. For now, she just needed an exact spot for them to touch, wait and stay safe while she tried to find her keys and load ‘em all in the car. She knew the stats. 8 kids killed every year in slow run overs (carparks, schools and driveways in Aus) and another 60+ critically injured. And the global statistics … what if her kids were among the statistics? Not a nice thought.
Then it hit her. Quite literally. She needed an exact Safe Spot these kids could see and touch, and a role they could play in their own safety to save them from being injured and her from yelling or having to rely on verbal instruction alone. It had just dawned on her that these kids needed something to do in order to stay safe and learn about their safety and stop her from going grey-er.
So she made a Safe Spot Sticker and put it on the passenger side of her car, farthest away from the road centre and traffic - and that’s where the Safe Spot was born. From there, she discovered that her kids not only responded to having a see-touch-do safety resource, they actually looked for the praise which came when they used the Safe Spot correctly. And they obviously liked the fact that Mum was no longer so stressed out and they seemed to go on more family outings with their own Safe Spot on the car. They also seemed to thrive on having their own role in safety and even went as far as to reminded her when she forgot!
And by some miracle (or not) somewhere along the way, they became become calmer, more present, engaged and more aware of their environment, danger and potential hazards. The Safe Spot had given her back a part of her sanity that she thought was long gone. She was no longer the crazy parent in the car park and she began to enjoy taking her kids out again. It was a gift that literally changed their lives as well as saved them. And so it was time to share this nifty little lifesaving creation with others!
Along the way, she has spoken to many parents and guardians who’ve used the Safe Spot’s, and the fact is that it wasn’t just for the very busy, adventurous kids who turned their parent’s hair grey; it was for those who one day could be tempted to jump out in front of the car to chase the runaway balloon and for the parent with more than one child who was flustered with the multitasking. It was for people with special needs too, because we all learn best from having an active role in our own safety and a safety resource which engages the senses.
From there, she began to gather feedback, ideas and testimonials – and really just started to listen to what others were saying about Safe Spot and the challenges they faced as parents. Every business concept, business model and entrepreneur grows and changes and evolves as it listens and responds to the people. If they don’t they soon disappear. After time, she realised that while most loved all the Safe Spot Sticker could achieve, some weren’t sure about putting a sticker on their car (even though it was vinyl, specially designed and specifically made for cars and the harsh Aussie climate) and so the Safe Spot Vehicle Magnet was born. And the spark of creativity began to grow.
So inspired by what Safe Spot could do for families across the globe, she put her thinking cap on even over the next few years and developed a range of safety resources, all of which were created to save lives and reduce stress for parents and guardians. It was the ability of these products to give kids and people with special needs an active role in their own safety that was key and which formed the inspiration for a new focus and direction for Safe Spot.
Being a Mum of four herself, she knew just how alone we can all feel at times on our journey of parenthood and the educator in her wanted to make sure she helped not only parents, but also professionals - to give our next generation a voice and a role as community educators. She found that kids are such powerful advocates for safety and well-being when they are given permission and the right articulation for taking such conversations home to share with peers, siblings, parents, families and communities. And so in good super hero fashion, she made herself a cape, tights and a whole super hero outfit (yes lycra!) and began taking her message to her community as Miss Safe Spot. Her message was that anyone can be a super hero by simply speaking up about safety and well-being. It was a hit.
From there, she developed a Community Program, which included free super hero visits, and wholesale road and vehicle safety products for all participating kids to take home, use and share with their families. Saving lives and inspiring kids to become community educators was a great combination so it happens and when it was combined with educational campaigns for parents and community and in-services for professionals, the positive effects were even greater. .....