Summer is upon us, and the kids want to go everywhere, beaches, theme parks, baseball stadiums, museums, hikes, waterparks, the list goes on. Sometimes airports or subways are involved.
All of these destinations make it quite tricky to keep close track of children particularly if they are young and you have more than one.
This is a handy guideline, which provides useful tips.
One of the most important aspects of any trip is talking to your children first and setting the ground rules.
For example, never, under any circumstances, are they to leave your side or run off, as kids want to do. This may seem obvious, but if not said over and over before you leave for the destination, kids often still can’t hear this.
Always have an identification card and or your phone number on them, in their pocket, their shoe. You can also write your name and cell phone number on their arm in permanent ink (particularly for the little guys.)
It's also worth the investment to give each child a cel phone with your number on speed dial. You can get these short term at any electronics store.
Have them wear specific colored shirts from home so they are easier to spot. While many theme parks offer these, all the kids are wearing them, making yours more difficult to spot.
Also there are devices you can buy that track your child, like a beeper, that you both wear. These are available on the Internet. Another idea is a whistle. You can have your own code, blow it three times, stop, repeat. This can work.
Many parents do not agree telling your kids to approach strangers (even if wearing a theme shirt) for help. The best solution would be for the child to approach another mother that has kids. In a world of shrewd predators, they know exactly what to say to a child to make them feel comfortable. A mother or father with children is a safer approach.
An exception would be at the beach; most lifeguards or lifeguard booths are usually safe, not just the workers but also the posts. Always be aware of the lifeguard stands as they can serve as safety locations as well if a child does get lost.
This is a very good website, Circle of Moms, that covers this issue well. Many young children have no “stranger danger” instincts and parents also don’t want to scare them. There are ways to talk to them to guide as well as key things to look for.
Something parents, to the “horror” of others, put their kids on lengthy leashes. I think this is a great idea and if being judged is the price, better that than losing a child at Disneyland. In one instance, a mother had two kids on leashes and interestingly, at least 70 parents approached them and asked where they could “rent” those at the park. You can’t.
If you simply cannot tether your child, then use the “daisy chain” approach; everyone holds hands, no exception. If someone needs to use the restroom they must be accompanied. If this is not possible, again, ask another parent with children. Your own judgment will guide you.
Despite the talks beforehand, children get very excited if they spot a walking Dumbo, or a see a dolphin at the beach, or a rainbow in a waterfall at Yosemite.
Their instinct is to run. When you are also watching other children, and for example, the child will not listen to you calling their name, your only recourse is to grab the others and run after them.
After talking to your child, or how you would handle the situation, re-create the daisy chain of holding hands. The chain cannot be broken. It’s not worth the terror that strikes if a little one wriggles off and runs.
Here are a few more tips, some repeats, but very thorough that covers beaches to subways to museums.
Have a wonderful and safe summer!