In the last 2 weeks I experienced something no mom wants to experience: I came across 3 lost children in totally 3 different environments. It was such an eye opener to me how often this actually happens and how it is so easy for parents to lose sight of their kids.
Here is what happened:
The first list kid I found in a store. I was looking around in the toy section with my son and I hear a kid screaming. I run over and find this kid standing in the middle of the store and there are no adults near him. He looked about 8. I start walking over and I see two cops walking towards the kid. The cops were huge so the kid got scared so I walked over to try and calm him down too. He was hysterical and didn’t know what to do with himself. The cops had to tell me to step away because they didn’t know what the situation was. They ended up finding his parents in a totally different area of the store. The parents were too busy shopping they didn’t even realize their kid was gone.
The second was a baby on my street. I went out for a run at a time I never really go out running. I was putting my shoes on in the garage and heard a cry from a baby. As a mom I knew that cry was not a normal cry, it was filled with pain and fear. I looked around and didn’t see any adults or kids so I assumed it was someone in a house. I went back in to get my headphones and as I walk onto the street, I see a less than 1 year old baby girl walking in the middle of my street screaming because her feet are burning and she is lost. I know most people in my neighborhood but this one I hadn’t seen before. I don’t know how long she had been out there but I picked her up and asked my nanny if she knew who’s daughter she was since they play with a lot of neighborhood kids. After going from house to house we finally found a house with the garage open and we screamed HELLO..no one came so we climbed under the garage and out came a nanny who grabbed the baby. I panicked because the nanny started yelling at this baby. I see the mom standing in the house staring at me. She didn’t even come out to talk to me to see where I found her daughter. They took the baby in the house and closed the door. The baby must have walked out of the house and walked for a good 10 minutes at least and no one realized she was gone.
The third was a 5 year old boy at Sea World and the day after I had found the baby. We had just finished up the park and were walking towards the exit when I see this boy going in circles looking frantic. As I stopped to ask him if he was OK..he was so scared and said I have no idea where my family is. Sea World in the middle of summer with hundreds of people, there was no way we were going to find them just standing there. My son Ayven was so sweet and assured the boy his mommy would take him to a safe place which really calmed the boy down. We took him to lost and found and I still pray to this day that his parents found him.
It takes two seconds for your child to get lost but takes 1 second for you to be smart enough to know your surroundings. We get so caught up in texting and calling and looking for something in our diaper bags that we don’t realize our eyes need to be on our kids at all times. There are so many safety measures we can take to avoid losing kids in crowded places or even on small play dates. Here are a few:
ID your kids: If you know you are going to be out, follow this tip on giving your kids a note about your information. Try to make the ID card only visable for your child unless there is an emergency.
Teach them about their surroundings: When you go to an amusement park or even a small museum, first show them who works there and who is in charge. Tell them that people in a specific color shirt or with a specific badge can help them. They should know which people they can trust if something happens. If they get lost tell them to find another mommy with kids to help them.
Use a harness: For the little ones that walk, you can always use the Mommy’s kid keeper. Or if they are older, which is what I use, use the Hold on Handles. They even make these in a double size. Who cares of people look at you weird, your kid is safe and that is all that matters.
Put down your phones: So many kids can wander during a split second of you sending a text. I am guilty of this too but the minute you look up and not see your child, that text doesn’t seem to important anymore. If you need to use your phone make sure your kids are in a confined area and you can see them at all times while talking on the phone or they are holding onto the harness straps.
Take help if you need: We all have those days where the kids are bouncing of the walls and we are just frustrated, flustered and tired. If you know you are not in your best condition to give your 100% attention to your kids, and THAT IS OK TO ADMIT, take a babysitter or ask someone to go with you. If you can’t find anyone, reschedule and do something that you think you can handle. Don’t feel like you failed, because you are being a good parent by putting your child’s safety first.
What I experienced the last two weeks was a major eye opener for me. I thank God everyday it was me who found them and not some weirdo that could have done horrible things to them. Parents please be aware of where your kids are at all times, especially during all these summer vacations. Kids are curious and will walk away but it’s our job to teach them and guide them about safety and strangers.