Growing up, I was always overprotective of my little sister. My mom recalls that I wouldn’t even let my sister walk three steps ahead of her in the supermarket! I constantly worried that she might simply wander away one day, so I made sure that I always had my eye—or a hand—on her.
Now that I’m a mother, I’m just as vigilant about my son’s whereabouts in public places. Previously, my husband and I had been able to keep him secure in his stroller on family outings like, for example, to the Iowa State Fair. But now that he’s nearly two, he’ll surely want to walk the grounds with us when we go again this summer.
Whether you’re taking your children to a state fair, an amusement park, or an outdoor concert, here are ways to keep track of your kids at large events so that everyone can feel relaxed and enjoy themselves.
Have a plan
When you arrive, take a photo of your child on your phone or digital camera so that you’re able to show authorities what he looks like and what he’s wearing in case you are separated. Be sure to identify to your little ones what the employees, security, or staff look like so that they know whom they can safely talk to if they’re lost, and designate a meeting place where you will reconvene.
Dress the part
Putting your kids in matching neon or brightly colored tie-dyed t-shirts will make them easier to spot in a large group. If you don’t mind the occasional judgmental look from other parents, strapping your toddler into a stuffed animal-designed backpack/leash combo (also called a child or safety harnesses) is a no-fail way to keep him or her nearby.
Stuck on You offers plastic wristbands on which you can easily write your kid’s name and your cell phone, and SafetyTat sells temporary tattoos preprinted with one or two lines of customizable info. At the very least, slip a card with your child’s name and contact information into his pocket—especially if he isn’t old enough to recall that information to police or security.
The easiest way to keep track of your kid at a large event is to never purposefully separate; finding one another afterwards might be harder than either of you expected. Always stand in line with your child even if you wouldn’t dare strap yourself into that roller coaster so that you never lose sight of her, and then head directly to the exit point to meet her. Escort your kid into the bathroom (you can stand outside the stall!), and never ask one child to wait alone while you take a sibling on a ride.