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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Keeping track of kids in a busy theme park

Let's see, purse, keys, sunscreen, water, kids ... kids? ... where'd the kids go?

Disneycrowd Summer's here, which means theme park season is in full swing. You may not think it can happen to you, but keeping up with kids in a busy theme park can be as difficult as herding puppies in a beef jerky factory. There are distractions screaming for their attention everywhere.

We recently got an e-mail from Whoa, Momma! reader Joann Parker from Minneapolis who read our post from last summer on five ways to avoid losing your kids on vacation. She sent along a brilliant idea on how to keep up with a large family in a busy vacation spot like a theme park: bright neon baseball caps.

A few years ago, we traveled with another family, as we made our way from Minneapolis to Maine. Our children at the time were ages 6-12. Our friends had bought some brightly-colored baseball caps -- neon yellow for them and neon pink for us! Whenever we stopped someplace where there was a large crowd, each family would wear its caps. At Niagara Falls, where there are throngs of people, the caps were a lifesaver! It was such an easy way to spot either a child or a parent who was not in close proximity.

Thanks for sharing that, Joann. I love those smack-your-forehead brilliant ideas that seem so obvious once you hear them.

Here are some other ideas we've gleaned over the years from more experienced parents:

Bracelet BRAND THEM:
Not literally, of course, but finding a way to stamp your cell phone number on the child can make finding you much easier. Get some of those "Hello My Name is..." stickers, write "Mom's cell phone number" (Don't put your child's name on the badge).

Get some of those cheap rubber bracelets (like those shown here at right) and write your number on them with a Sharpie pen. Speaking of Sharpies, some moms just use them to write their number directly on the child's belly.

DOUBLE VISION: Dress them alike (or in Joann's neon ball caps) so you can say "He's dressed like this" to the park's worker. Or, take a good picture of the kids at the beginning of the day on your digital camera. That way you have a way to show staff members what your kids were dressed in.

Slimetime TALK EARLY AND OFTEN: I was caught off guard once when I forgot to talk about staying together ahead of time. We arrived at the Nick Hotel just as it was "slime time" at the pool and my 9 year old raced into the crowd before we had a chance to establish some ground rules. It took a long time to find him again among the huge crowd of kids at the water slide. Before you even leave the car, talk about how you will all stay together. Establish rules about holding hands, or how far ahead or behind they can walk and how to find each other if you somehow get separated. At small spaces like a park, we establish a base camp at a picnic table or chairs and let the kids know where to find us before we let them go off and play. For larger spaces, you could pick a landmark to meet if you get separated.

-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne

[Last modified: Thursday, May 13, 2010 11:01am]


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