We have three under four and we installed a second door inside making a sort of mudroom. This means two doors before the outside. The other thing we did was to have all of our chairs in the gated-in kitchen and all other sitting furniture consists of exercise balls we use for sitting on. Exercise balls suck for climbing up to locks
. Our boys are all tall, very tall, and they can reach anything anywhere by making piles of books, blocks, even couch cushions, which we've also removed.
These measures were actually to stop them from reaching into cupboards and closets to items that are not safe for them (because they can go in different directions and it's not reasonable to expect that I'll be able to have three children swarming my legs all day).
For leaving the house, we have just reiterated the 'rules' and made it clear that opening the door without mummie means no going outside for the whole day. I have gone over and over training them in this and also telling them that we all need to help each other be safe. There is no way any of them will let the other even touch the doorknob without telling me immediately, which I do rely upon somewhat, but not entirely. I have a home that allows me to see them and/or hear them no matter where I am and I haven't shut the door to use the toilet in four years- I sometimes have to play catch while I pee
We are moving next month and the set-up of the front door is very concerning to me. I will use chimes over the door as well as a gate at the stairs, but honestly, I think the gate might be more dangerous than the stairs and door together- if they do decide to climb the gate (and there is nothing they can't climb), they will go head first down the stairs and HIT the door. I've considered installing a whole screen door at the top of the stairs instead. Weird, but not much about our home isn't...
I am really concerned for OP that there are so many who seem to think they have everything figured out or that have implied that she has too many children to keep 'safe.' For us, the techniques for keeping the children safe are constantly evolving and it is pretty unfair to assume that if we happen to be one day late in the change, we're not fit to parent our littles. Even if that happens three times. There was a child in this province whose mother knew had gone out to the front yard to play in the snow. She was 9 years old and building a snow fort by tunnelling through the snow in the yard. She tunnelled all the way up to the edge of the yard, where the sidewalk was and a plow that was clearing a parking lot came and dumped it's load of snow right on this family's yard, crushing the child.
This was the first and only time a plow had done this, and obviously the operator had no idea, and the mum of the child couldn't have forseen the tragedy that ensued; she had done what she knew was acceptable every day until that one. It's easy to pass judgement, and you could say, well, this was just an accident, but it's an example of how we cannot control every variable in our lives. This mama couldn't predict the actions of an adult who should know better, but OP should be able to predict the previously unattempted or failed attempts of a toddler? I'm sure that where the woman above received sympathy, if the child was a toddler, she would have been prosecuted (unduly, imo).
OP has continued to update her security system to keep her dc safe, but three times, she has been one day or one hour or one minute late in predicting their decisions and abilities. We cannot control the impulses of other people, nor do we suddenly gain the ability to intuit them because we become mothers. I know that the arguement is that she should be doing more to fix this, but I just think it's not as black and white as that she shouldn't have so many children because of this.
OP, I would move, if I were you. We did move because we were concerned about the outside envirnoment in many ways, including the near hit of our son who was walking right next to us, saw a dog and flung himself up to the curb as dh caught him by the arm, terrifying us and the driver who was right there. We realised that we would not be able to live somewhere where half a second of impulse could end the life of our dc; there was always fast-moving traffic everywhere in the big city we used to live in. We now live where there are 200 people, wide roads, lots of pedestrians and slow drivers who are aware of their surroundings and not stressed out by traffic. If our dc ever did get out, they could drown in one of the many lakes within a few minutes of our house or be eaten by bears or mountain lions, but that risk is sooooooo much less than any in the city. I'd take the chance of a bear encounter over a child predator or highway traffic any day, and here, every day. Not to mention the complete lack of support you have there from neighbours and not just that but deliberate intention to have your children taken away; anyone calling CPS knows that's why they are calling. Nobody calls CPS to have them 'check in' on a family. That's just as easily done by knocking on your door.
Is there any way to just extend your fence instead of building a new one?
In any case, I feel very badly for you in this. Maybe CPS won't list the escapes at all and just the homeschooling; that would be much easier to deal with. I hope that's the case. I am also relieved for you that you have rights there. In Canada, child protection workers are legally allowed to enter and act according to 'good faith' as seen by them and they do not need a warrant or even the name or address of the child they want to see. If they are impeded, the dc can be legally taken away and parents put in jail while foster care is arranged. They cannot be prosecuted, unless they act illegally outside their jurisdiction such as while in court purjuring themselves, but while 'investigating,' their actions are simply legal, no matter what they are unless they have committed a crime against the child such as molestation (apparently kidnapping, vaccinating, administering drugs based upon a single visit to a dr. against parents wishes, circ'ing, and placing the child in the care of known child abusers are fine though). They are completely unbound by the law- they have more power than any law enforcement agency or individual in the country, and they use it. I think it's disgusting. And Im sure that there are some well-meaning cpw's out there; but as we've learned in this thread... it just takes one time...
I am very glad for you that you are able and knowledgable to protect your family!