It was our first day of vacation and everyone was excited! We had an adult to kid ratio of 6 to 2, so we were feeling confident that we could navigate all the throngs of people easily and not lose anyone.
We were wrong.
While walking to our next destination, we came to a fork in the road and among hundreds of other visitors and all the looking up at the sights, Miles went one way while the rest of us went the other.
Cue panic and fear.
Luckily we noticed it right away, but it still took us a good 10 minutes of hell to find him. He was just as scared as we were, but because he was prepped he was able to remember what to do to help himself to find his family. It was a good reminder to always be alert and aware, but also of the importance of preparing your kids for the worst, even if it never comes into practice.
Some tips for teaching your kids what to do if they get lost:
– Take a picture of your kids each morning in the clothes they are wearing for the day in case you need to show it to people to help locate your child and give an accurate description of what they were wearing. In moments of panic it is easy to forget what color shirt or pant, if they were wearing sneakers or crocs, etc.
– always be aware of where everyone is and do frequent head counts. Even adults are susceptible to getting separated from the group if they are looking up, or have stopped to take a picture.
– Impress upon your child the importance of staying put once they realize they are lost. You will find them much faster if they are not wandering around.
– Once they stop, find someone to help them find you. Look for an employee (they wear name tags or have uniforms that look the same), look for a police officer or security guard, or look for a mother with small children. When we found Miles he was walking towards an employee.
– Teach them your cell phone number. If they can find a trusted adult they will be able to quickly locate you if they know your number. We made the number into a song and he remembered it when he was 4 years old.
– If your child is too young to remember their phone number, there are customizable temporary tattoos you can have made to place on your child in case they get lost.
– Try to stay calm. It is nearly impossible to not be gripped with fear and have trouble breathing, but remain focused on finding your kid- you can be a sobbing mess after they are found.
– Once you and your child are reunited, do not place blame or scold them. Let them know how scared you were and how glad you are that you found them. Also if they followed the steps above how proud of them you are. They will be shaken up and need comfort, not a lesson.
– This is a good time to find a place to have ice cream or a treat and collect yourselves. Try not to dwell on the situation, and take this time to allow your blood pressure to come down and get back to having fun!
– Remember that it can happen to anyone, you are not a bad parent because your child got lost.
Has your child ever gotten lost? What steps do you take to ensure your children know what to do if they get lost?