This post is the second in our Smarter Parenting series, created by Stephanie Hinderks. Stephanie is a mother of two, and a senior product manager at Alarm.com.
When my son was five, I overheard him plotting with the girl next door to sneak out and meet up for a play date—after my husband and I were asleep.
That was the day I decided to get a smart home security system. A mom can't rely on overhearing every plot, I realized. Even with mother's intuition (and good hearing), I knew I was going to need some help to protect my kids from their own most audacious schemes.
My smart home security system gives me a "sixth sense" in the form of real-time alerts generated by sensors which monitor activity around my home. Here are three ways I use it as a childproofing tool.
Knowing Where the Kids Are
My daughter has a lot of energy and loves playing in our backyard—so much so that sometimes she doesn't ask before heading outside. Even when I'm just in the next room and think she's playing quietly, she can slip out without me noticing.
I recently set up an alert that lets me know if the back door opens during the daytime. This way, instead of rushing around looking for her when I realize she's not in the house, I can just glance out of the living room window and check that she's okay. It's also fun to see her playing out there in her own world and being a kid.
Related: Why smart home security is perfect for parents
Monitoring Forbidden Areas
My ‘daughter in the backyard' alert is triggered by a contact sensor on the back door. You typically find these devices on exterior doors and windows, but you can attach them to any door or drawer for childproofing purposes.
They're easy to install anywhere—refrigerator doors, kitchen cabinets, the nursery door—and you can add more as your child grows.
Currently, the area of our home that I least want explored is the garage. We have a latch at the top of the door from the house to the garage, too high for my son to reach. But it won't be long until he gets a stool and figures it out, so I have an alert set up for whenever the door opens in the daytime.
Related: The five stages of smart home parenting
Parent-Proofing: It's Not Just For Kids
If you don't shut our home's front door really firmly, and you forget to lock it behind you, a strong gust of wind will blow it open. It's easy to forget when you're coming and going with your arms full of groceries or school bags, and we don't want our children in the front yard on their own.
Our security system has just the alert for this type of situation: a ‘door left open' alert.
If our front door is open for more than 60 seconds during the daytime, it lets me know. If I'm home, I can go and close it; if I'm at work, I can call the babysitter and let her know. It's not just kids who need watching around doors sometimes!
Would your family benefit from the extra awareness that smart home security gives you? Click here to discover more of the benefits.
A version of this post originally appeared at babycenter.com.