I took my 4 children to the children's museum today and returned home with 4 children!
That alone deems the outing successful!
It was something that used to make me nervous even when I had 3 kids, much less 4, the idea of me being only 1 adult and trying to keep up with the kids in a large, crowded, public place. But, I never wanted to say we couldn't go somewhere just because there were too many kids. Or that we had to wait until the weekend to go places when my husband could help. So, I didn't allow the fear to force us to be stuck at home.
And, over the years I have developed a few tricks that help. First is to dress the kids alike when at all possible. I used to think big families that dressed all alike were kinda goofy, but now I realize they are not goofy, just smart! When you are a mom watching out for more than 1 or 2 walking, mobile, non-stroller confined children, and trying to keep everybody close, it is so much easier for your eye to catch all one pattern or color. And it's always a bonus that if one of the children does stray too far, a stranger may bring them back because they obviously match your family!
Today, I dressed my boys alike and my girls alike. I could easily spot those two patterns, of floral and stripes (ignore my 5 year old son's water soaked shirt, he had a little too much fun in the outdoor water play area).
Also, having a daughter who joined our family through international adoption and does not look at all like the rest of us, it helps in many ways to have her matching our family with her clothes when we are out in public!
The other thing I do is to review with the kids on the way into the public place, rules about not leaving an area without me and staying in one place if they think they are lost because chances are I'm really close by and if they start running to look for me, they're likely to get really lost. And, I tell them to holler for me by my first name rather than, "Mommy!" when they think they are lost, becuase in a place like the children's museum there could be hundreds of kids yelling "Mommy!" We also talk about safe adults (like the staff at the museum) they can ask for help if they get lost.
Then I will remind them periodically throughout the outing, like when we entered the Science Lab room it was a natural point to say, "Don't leave this room without me and I won't leave without all of you!" That way if I get involved in helping one child look through a microscope and take my eyes off the other 3, they will not run off.
It's actually gotten to the point where I feel like I'm more likely to lose a child when we have my husband with us because we fall into the, "I thought you were watching him." "No, I thought you were watching him!" mess! So, now I've found myself saying to my husband when our whole family is together, things like, "Okay, you watch the boys, I've got the girls" or some combination like that!
Short of leashes, anybody have any other suggestions for keeping your kids from getting lost?
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