If you are anything like me, the thought of bringing your little ones to the airport, a museum, the circus, a fair, or any place where there might be hundreds or even thousands of people makes your stomach turn.
I grew up in a law enforcement family. While I wouldn't have wanted it any other way, it does things to a person. I mean, there is a stranger around every corner ready to grab my children and run, isn't there? Even the sweetest old man in line at the grocery store just has to have an ulterior motive when smiling at my children, doesn't he? Oh, and the nice lady that walks her dog by my house every afternoon gazing at our front porch? She is not admiring the flowers. She is plotting how to get into my house and take one of my children, right? I could go on and on and on, but I will save that for a future therapy session. It's just awful!
In all honesty, though, I am constantly afraid of losing a child in a crowd, and having twins sometimes makes it feel like the odds are stacked against you. How is it possible for one person to safely watch two little ones, especially after they become mobile? Even at my little neighborhood grocery store, I have had one twin running toward the veggies and the other simultaneously heading toward the deli, making my head spin out of control.
Here are a few tips I have found to make these public outings just a little (and I mean a little) less stressful:
- Dress the twins exactly alike. This is for two reasons in my crazy, overprotective head. First, it's easier to find them. Second, it's easier to remember what they are wearing. We've all seen those Lifetime movies or "Law & Order" episodes where a child goes missing and, in her panic-stricken state of mind, the mom is trying to give a description of her child to the police but for all the tea in China can't recall what the child was wearing.
- Dress them in bright colors. When we hit a crowded spot, I dress my twins in the brightest neon polo shirts I can find. (Reasons are the same as in #1.)
- Write your cell phone number on your children's arms in marker. Who cares if it takes three days and four baths to come off? It's well worth it! I tell each of my twins to show another mommy his arm if he gets lost.
- Talk to your twins about safety, no matter what their age. The more you talk to your children about safety tips, even when you think they are not old enough to understand, the better. You would be amazed at how much they really do comprehend. Tell your little ones it's important that they stay close to you in a crowded place, and explain what they should do if they get lost. I tell my twins to look for either a police officer or a woman who has little kids with her. The chances are very good that if a mom encounters a lost child, she is going to do everything she can to help. Wouldn't you?
- Teach your twins your phone number and name. Start reciting your phone number to the children at a very early age. Ask them to repeat after you, and make it a fun game. Make sure they know your full name too—you know, your first and last name, not "mommy" or "daddy."
As a last resort, tie anchors to their legs. A ball and chain would work just as well.
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