5 proactive ways to avoid losing your child in crowded, public places

IMG_2849Nothing can describe the panic that a parent feels when their child disappears from sight in a crowded, public place. When you’re on holidays and visiting places like amusement parks, museums, shopping centers, beaches and airports crowds often go with the territory. The droves of people can’t be avoided but there are proactive things that you can do to prepare your family in case your child does get separated from you.

TAKE PRECAUTIONS

1. DRESS:

Put the kids in bright clothes and accessories to help you to quickly spot them in a crowd. If you look at our family photos of the boys at the beach, you’ll notice that I often have them dressed in bright red board shorts. This isn’t by accident, it’s so that I can quickly find them if they have somehow managed to disappear from my line of sight. Likewise, you can also dress in a bright colour to help your children find you. A tip is to take a photo of your child at the beginning of the day so that you have a photo of what they are wearing handy – just in case they do get really lost.

2. BALLOONS MARK THE SPOT:

Head to the nearest stall selling balloons and get yourself one – helium is best because you will be able to see it floating above the crowds. Gently tie the balloon with a piece of string to your little ones arm and you instantly have a marker that sits high above the crowds! I accidentally discovered this tip after WE LOST OUR CHILD at the school fete! Our youngest (4) is not a child that wanders, he just got distracted by something he saw and off he went. He was gone for just a few minutes (a lifetime) and then I spotted the balloon – and our crying child. Fortunately he’d found another mum who was helping him to find his negligent parents! #theguiltisstillreal! The other lesson we learnt from this experience was to assign supervision of each child to each parent to make it clearer who is watching who…you can read between the lines here. My husband thought our son was with me, and I thought he was with him… moving on… ;)

3. THE RULES:

Go through the rules of being out and about with mummy and daddy with your kids. Reinforce these rules before and on the day and remember to keep the instructions simple. As part of your chats discuss what to do if they got lost. I tell my children not to move from their spot and to look for another mum, someone who works where we are (but this can be hard) or a policeman (also hard and not always practical). I also ask them to call out loudly for mum and dad until we find them. I also remind the boys that they have to either hold our hand at all times. I practice this in the shopping centre and because my hands are full here I always ask them to have one hand on the trolley. If the hand comes off the trolley…we go home. The same can work for a pram when you’re out and about.

4.MEMORISING GAME:

If you have a child old enough to remember phone numbers and their full name and address, use games of rhyme to help them to remember and recite these when asked. You‘ll need to start working on this early though unless your child is Dougie Howser!

5. LEAVE NOTHING TO CHANCE:

The best preparation is to include some form of identification on your child. Having ID handy will shorten the time it takes for you to be reunited with your little one. ID can take many formats – identification tattoos, bracelets, badges, notes in the pocket, notes pinned inside clothing and of course there is a range of new technology options like GPS tracking (but I prefer to save that one for when my husband is out and about!) 😉

Now that our boys are a bit older we prefer to use ID tags on lanyards, they like wearing them too because they feel important and call them their ‘licence’. They just wear them under their shirts and are there if anyone quickly needs to see them. Note: I don’t include their home address or home phone number on the lanyards, just our mobile number (in international format) and email. I have also read a lot about not including your childs first name because this is an easy way for predators (sorry to talk about it but sadly it happens) to identify with your child and get their trust.


DETAILS:

Our identification cards and lanyards are from Identify Me and were gifted ahead of our trip to Eurobodalla in New South Wales. Although our boys never left our side, they wore their tags under their shirts as backup which gave us great peace of mind.  These cards can be completely personalised to suit your child and can include allergy and other information critical to your child’s safety. 

For more visit: https://www.instagram.com/identifyme_/

 

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