Mowing the lawn is a right of passage for many a teenage boy. At least it was back in the day. Now, I find more and more kids don't ever learn to mow the lawn. Whether you want your kids to learn to help them become more responsible, or they want to learn to earn a bit of extra money, I have a few safety tips for while they are learning.
Mowing The Lawn: Safety Tips For Teaching Your Kids
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Okay, I confess. I am guilty as charged. I am 33 years old and I have never used a lawnmower or a weedeater. I do not do the outside thing. I am spoiled. Between always having a man in my life who enjoyed doing it, and just hating the idea of lawn care, I manage to have never actually had to actually be the one mowing the lawn. I would if I needed to, I just haven't had a need up to this point in my life.
Now that I have confessed my status as a spoiled woman, let's move on to the fact that the Wee Child has been begging to mow the lawn for years. He has actively been watching his Daddy mowing the lawn, and even helped with picking up sticks and rocks. He just wasn't big enough to handle the job himself. This year, that changed. As a result, I have a few safety tips for you to use in teaching your kids about mowing the lawn.
Wait until they are physically able to handle the job. Many young children will follow along in your footsteps wanting to help. The reality is that lawn mowers and weedeaters are both dangerous tools around anyone, let alone a child. A 3-4-year-old boy can help pick up sticks or rocks in the yard, but is simply not strong enough to handle the lawn mower. Use your brain, and wait until your kids are actually big enough to really begin mowing the lawn.
The Wee Child has been "helping" for the last 5 years. He is almost 9 years old, and a bit big for his age. He is now taller than our push lawnmower, and he is easily able to push and pull it without assistance. He is, in my opinion, still not old enough to handle a weedeater or a riding lawnmower or lawn tractor. This year is the first time we have let him actually take a turn at mowing the lawn by himself. That said, he isn't out there doing this by himself, which leads us to the next important point on our safety tips list.
Don't leave them without supervision. Age is a big factor in this, but an 8-12-year-old boy or girl will most likely still need pretty close supervision while handling lawn care. This doesn't mean you have to stand right behind them, but you should be within a few easy steps to help should they run into trouble.
As you can see in the picture above, the Wee Child was using our push mower by himself. However, just a few feet off the picture was his Daddy watching and ready to take over or step in at a seconds notice. A teenager is a different situation, but even then, they will likely need a few practice rounds before you feel comfortable with them mowing the lawn without supervision.
Dress them appropriately for the job. I admit, we didn't do the best job on this in the above picture. I wasn't expecting him to help more than his usual basic clean up around the yard. Next time, I will be making sure he is wearing better gear for the job. While it is hot in the summer months, and shorts are often the go-to clothing for outside work. It is also important to think about protecting their legs while mowing the lawn. I recommend sturdy boots or work shoes, long lightweight pants, and even a long sleeved lightweight shirt to cover their arms. If nothing else, make sure they are wearing bug spray and sunscreen.
We keep a few items on hand in our shop for any chores outside:
- Work gloves in kids and adult sizes
- Big floppy hats to cover ears and necks
- Extra bug spray and sunscreen
- Work boots or garden boots
Don't let your lawn get too tall. One of the bigger safety tips to consider when teaching your kids about mowing the lawn is to make sure you keep up with it regularly. The reason behind this in my area of the country is that snakes are more likely to be lurking in the taller grass. While there are many snakes that are perfectly safe and not venomous, we live where rattlesnakes are more common than I would like. Keeping up with the lawn care on a regular basis keeps everyone safer.
Pick up the lawn before beginning to mow. One thing that you learn fast is that when a lawn mower hits a rock, it can shoot up and hit you leaving a very painful bruise or even break. It is very important when teaching your kids about mowing the lawn to focus on the simple prep work involved which includes walking the area you will be mowing to remove any rocks, sticks, debris, and yes, even the yucky dog poop that may be hidden.
Teach them respect for the lawn care equipment. Just because there are caps, safety panels, and such covering the blades of the lawn mower, your children still need to learn to respect the equipment. The number of injuries caused each year in knowledgeable adults is enough to remind you that your child should be told that the sharp edges of blades are to something to mess with when working outdoors.
If you think this is the summer when you finally begin really teaching your kids about mowing the lawn, these safety tips are worth consideration. Even the strongest and most responsible kids still need some supervision from mom and dad when first taking on big chores like mowing the lawn.