Lost. It’s a simple enough word but one that strikes fear in the heart of every mama. We’ve all had those moments…you turn around and your toddler who was just RIGHT THERE is gone. It’s true, usually he’s just waddled over to the other side of you, or is bent over examining a bug, but those seconds searching for him seem to stretch on to an eternity.
While most of the time “lost” only lasts for a few seconds, it’s important to prepare your kids and teach them what they should do if they become truly lost and can’t see mommy or daddy.
I hope our family rules can help you in starting this conversation with your kids. Especially before traveling with them where they’d be in unfamiliar surroundings.
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Here are the rules about getting lost that we teach our kids.
Stay still – So often a child’s gut reaction is to go wandering around looking for mommy or daddy. The know they weren’t supposed to get lost, so they try to make up for it by finding you immediately. Make sure they know that as long as they are in a safe place to stay put so mommy and daddy can come back to them. If there is a bench to sit on or a chair to find we always make sure they don’t have to root themselves in the exact spot on the floor where they realized they were lost, but rather stay in the general area out of the way and somewhere that they can safely wait for help.
Find a mommy – We’ve taught our kids that the best person to help them is another mom. If they need help, they should search for a nice lady with kids and ask for help. People with kids are oftentimes the best equipped to comfort a child, and get them back to their parent.
Not a uniform – I know some might be raising their eyebrows at the above advice. Shouldn’t kids go to police officers or firemen? Yes…but in most situations there isn’t a police officer handy. Unless you happen to be in the grocery store at the same time as one, your kid could be stuck searching for a cop for a long time. Uniforms can also be VERY confusing. At amusement parks the security officers aren’t dressed in familiar police uniforms and it can be hard for a kid to discern which uniforms are genuine and which ones are not. The same goes for traveling overseas. This is why we always tell our kids to look for a mommy if they are lost.
Name & Number – There are a few facts your kids need to know about YOU to help them be prepared if they are ever lost. Most important is you real name. Have them practice saying your full name several times. This way when some one asks what their mommy’s name is they won’t be stuck paging “mama” on the store intercom. Once your child is old enough, teach them your phone number too so they can clearly communicate to the person helping them and give you a phone call with their exact location instead of waiting with your child until you are found or needing to page you through a store. Here are a few tips to help you teach your child your phone number.
tip: If your child isn’t old enough to learn your number but you will be in a large open area with them, get these temporary tattoos. We’ve done them with our kids at the beach and other places with great success! I was super impressed with how long they stay on! These also come in handy if your child will be traveling with a grandparent or friend. You kid might not have had the chance to memorize grandma’s phone number yet, so this is a quick way for a helper to be able to get your child back to their guardian without any extra steps.
While being lost is a scary event for kids and moms alike, we hope these tips help you all feel more safe on vacations and even in your every day adventures with your kids!