Monday, June 11, 2012

How to Not Lose Your Children

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?

And how many more years do I have of my 9 year old not complaining about dressing like his little brother?  Please tell me several years!

Find more Works for Me Wednesday here.


  1. My boys are 11 and 3 and still LOVE to dress alike! I do the matching family (including me) thing, too...because then if I lose one and have to remember what they were wearing in a moment of panic I don't have to think too hard...just look at my own shirt. Glad it was such fun for you guys!!

  2. When my oldest were little, I made them all wear the same bright green hats we got at the state fair each year. Easy to spot, just like your outfits. They started to refuse around age 10. When my kids reach 2 or so, we start practicing the "tell mom where you are going before you go" rule. I stay in one place where i can see most of the area, and they each come to me when they decide to swing instead of slide. Going over the boundaries before they are let loose is also a must. Oh, and practicing at other times helps, too. When we go for a walk, I let them go ahead of me, but give directions like, stop at the 2nd mailbox. They stop and wait until I reach them, where I then give the next stopping point. Well, that was a long comment. You did ask, though! :)

  3. Your rules sound pretty similar to our own. The only other thing I do is tell them is if they can't find an official type person, to find another mommy and say they need help.
    I know what you mean about the goofy dress-a-like families. With three five year olds and a three year old I do this all the time now.
    I also saw a tip to take a phone pic of your kids when you get somewhere. Then it's really easy to pull it out to show someone who is helping you find your lost kid. Not that that has ever happened to me. :)

    1. The phone idea is brilliant! If you can remember where you last saw your phone....

  4. Great stuff. Like grateful 4babies, I also have taught them to find a mom or grandma if they get lost. Luckily, I haven't lost one yet. I like how intentional you are about the whole thing.

  5. I laughed-out-loud at the idea that the stranger will know that your child belongs with you family because they match! I have heard to teach them to use first names in public.. and honestly we did that even though we weren't taught to. Great advice!
    Kristen @ Trial & Error Homemaking

  6. We do a couple of things. Like grateful said above, we take pictures of each of our kids individually and one together when we get to our destination. That way we not only have a recent picture of our children with us, but even a picture of what they are wearing that day. I'm pretty sure if I lost one of them I would not be able to remember those details.

    We have also been known to write a cell phone # on their arms (so they don't wash off) and told them that if we got separated to find a policeman or mommy and have them call that number. They sell bracelets with that info too, but a pen does the same job. =)

  7. I haven't visited your blog in a while, and I'm so glad to see that your adoption was successful! I wish you and your new daughter all the best.

    I only have one child. But I used to be a Girl Scout leader and would take up to 18 girls to various public places. We always used the buddy system. That gave me 9 pairs instead of 18 individuals to keep track of; if I saw a girl running around alone, I'd immediately say, "Where's your buddy?" I also counted them every time we moved from one area to another, and I listed them alphabetically by first name in my mind so that if anyone was missing I could quickly figure out who--both measures you probably don't need with "just" 4!

  8. I've just found your blog, and my kids are all older now (18, 15 & 14, my how the time flies...) but I just wanted to mention that, in addition to the things you & others mentioned, I would tell my girls that it was their job not to lose me, just as it was my job not to lose them, so we must always tell each other where we will be (and then be where we say we will be, meaning if you tell me you are going to be swinging, you will in fact be swinging if I come looking) I found very quickly that they will learn to keep an eye on where mom is, when they know it is their job.

  9. Dressing them like that is brilliant! Colorful and matching. I have 3 boys and 2 girls and totally need to get them all bright orange shirts with my cell number on them and my first name!


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