With the recent controversy (and horrible story) about a son killed after being left in a car (sadly we see something about this more during the summer), I thought I would weigh in with my thoughts. I was driving around with our girls the other day and I started thinking about the reality that kids are in left in hot cars. I thought, “Hey, I am doing a series on Traveling with Tots, I should write about this craziness!”
Let me just begin by saying that I honestly can see forgetting a kid happening for SOME parents. I can see it being a very real possibility for parents who drive around a lot without their kids in the backseat. I think of working moms and dads who take off for work and don’t have their kids in tow. These parents may have the luxury of not having a routine preschool or daycare (meaning one of the parents stays-at-home).
It is less likely for this to happen to me (a stay-at-home mom) because I rarely drive around without my kids. It is an oddity to NOT be with them, so it is very, very routine for me to be getting them in, taking them out, etc.
So, there is a room for compassion for parents who forget their kids.
With all that said I really find it hard to believe that you can completely forget your kid is in the backseat! It just seems so strange to be that distracted – and I am a very distracted person!
And I was thinking about a solution to this problem. My husband and I saw this video this weekend that I thought was so precious and smart:
Here are my other suggestions for remembering your kids:
# 1 As soon as you get in your car, lock your driver’s side door
As long as you don’t have doors that open automatically even if you have your doors locked, this will be just a gentle reminder to look around the car before leaving. We have a car doors that will not open if they are locked. The simple frustration of a locked door is enough to make me roll my eyes, look around the car and then unlock the door. It takes less than a second, but it really works to kick-start my memory and pull me out of my distracted state.
#2 Create a routine for getting in and out of the car and then change it up regularly
When we get in our car I keep the garage door closed until the girls are safely in their seats and I am ready to start the car. We always lock the girls in their seats, and I always buckle our youngest in her seat first. My older girl can choose if she will get in on her sister’s side of the car or wait until I can get to the other door to let her in. If she gets in on her sister’s side she has to get in her seat and get as much of her car seat buckled as she can. If we get in on her side of the car, I help her get buckled through the whole process. When we arrive at our destination, I get the older one out first and give her the choice (or make the choice based on safety) to get out with me and walk around to get her sister or to get out of her seat and wait to get out of the car on her sister’s side.
Just the fact that there are so many options to consider here means I am thinking though the process! This means I am not too distracted to pay attention to our girls. The routine of getting in the seats and getting buckled is always there, but there is flexibility in the routine to allow for each day to be different. And different is memorable to me.
#3 Put away all distractions while driving
We ought to be doing this anyway because texting and talking on the phone whilst driving is straight up dangerous! But putting away all the distractions will help to keep my mind clear of the clutter of social media and conversations. If these things aren’t crossing my mind, I have more brain power to focus and remember my kids.
#4 Talk and sing with your kids
I honestly cannot imagine this being something that needs to be said, but I realize we live in a society that is becoming more and more insular (even within our own families). We forget to have conversations because our mind is elsewhere. But taking the time to talk and sing and point out landmarks along the way is more opportunity for little ones to grow and learn. If you can’t think of anything to talk about try talking about what you see. Ask your little ones if they can see the clouds in the blue sky or the train on the train tracks. Or be the navigator for the car, giving directions as you go – you never know they may become better at recognizing direction and orientation better than you.
How do you remember your kids are in the car with you? Where do you stand on parents who forget?