Summer is full of great opportunities for outings and trips to festivals, theme parks, zoos and more. But taking kids to busy events requires a bit of advance planning. Here are some tips and ideas to keep your kids safe while you are having fun.
Before you go:
Do some role playing around safety. Gavin Debecker in his book Protecting the Gift suggests teaching kids to find another mother with young kids if they get lost. Studies show this is the safest option, and that mothers will be the most committed to ensuring a child is returned to their parent.
Teach your kids your phone number and your name. We set ours to a simple little song to help our kids remember.
Practise using “Freeze” to teach kids to stop immediately. This is a great parenting tool for lots of things, but especially if you have a kid who likes to run. It’s often more likely to be heard than using “stop” or “come back”
Dress kids in easily recognizable clothing. With my youngest son who was easily distractible we often dressed him in a wild distinctive tie-dye t-shirt to make him easier to spot in a crowd or in a tree (this strategy may not work as well at hillside To make it easier for them to find you, you might consider dressing in similar clothes.
Pack your backpack well. In addition to the standard water bottles, hats and sunscreen, we have a small plastic rescue kit with first aid essentials like band-aids, ointments, medicines and homeopathics, and a few things like earplugs and rescue remedy that can help overwhelmed kids manage a bit better. When my kids were younger, we also had a few light easy to carry distractions like a small pack of crayons and pad of paper, blow up beach ball, a tiny but soft lovey, hand held puzzles, and string for cats cradle.
When you get there:
Take a photo of each child individually on your cell phone just before you go in so you have a record of what they are wearing and can use the photo to help find them if necessary
If you are entering a place with wrist bands, like Hillside, write you cell number and name on the band.
Find a rendezvous spot where everyone can meet if they get separated. Make it distinctive so that it can’t be confused with another spot. Statues, one of a kind signage, the tree beside the entrance are good starting places.
Scope out where the bathrooms, first aid tents, water refill stations and potential quiet spaces are as you head in so that you can get to them easily if the need arises.
Have a wonderful time!