Sunday, May 22, 2016

Don't Forget The Baby

As a mom and daycare provider, I am heartbroken by all of the news reports of parents leaving children in hot cars and the tragedies many of them face afterwards.  There seems to be a common cause linked to a change in routine or a  kink in the morning. I'll be the first to say that I get it. There is no judgement here. Just last Friday I had a similar incident happen to me:

Usually I don't do school drop offs. I'm typically working and the kids walk the two blocks in takes to get to school from our house. But I had last Friday off and our morning was anything but smooth. After dropping the boys off at school, I pulled back into the driveway to finish getting ready for our big morning. I hopped out of the minivan and made a dash for the front door when I heard my three year old laughing. Thank god the windows were down so that I heard her little voice.

"Mom you left me!" she squealed. I instantly felt a pane in my stomach. I didn't even want to think about what could have happened. Honestly, I would have remembered that I never unbuckled her from the car seat as soon as I got inside. However, our morning was not our usual routine and I was completely off. I get how parents forget their children are still in the car when they arrive at their destination. That the daycare/nanny/school drop off never happened. 

I've seen a lot of helpful hints such as leaving your purse or cell phone in the back with the baby/kids, placing a shoe in the back. Something, anything to help you to remember to check to make sure all kids are out of the car.  These are excellent plans, but we know how mornings can be harried and chaotic. As a daycare provider, I want to do all I can to ensure the safety of all of my daycare kiddos and their families, in addition to these life saving methods. Here's a few helpful tips that I enforce at daycare and suggest these to my friends to keep any tragedy from happening this summer:

  • Have a co-worker, work friend, or someone ask you every morning how drop off went. This will make parents take a minute to think about their mornings and hopefully realize if a drop off never happened.
  • Have a plan in place with your childcare center or in-home provider if your child doesn't show up. I like to get an idea of when my daycare children will be coming every morning and get a time frame. If/when a child wouldn't show up at their expected time, I text the parent(s) to ask where child(ren) is. If no response within a reasonable time frame (I usually give 15 - 30 minutes), then I call. If I can't get a hold of the parent(s) or guardian, I call their emergency contact(s). It may seem excessive to some, but I'd rather that than the possible alternative. Make sure that your center or provider knows what you wish to happen if your child doesn't show up.
  • If your routine is off, be sure to make a check list of things to do/double check every morning. Included in that check list should be a quick peek in the backseat(s) to make sure all children are out of the car.
  • Have your partner/spouse/significant other text you or call you at a certain time to make sure kids are where they need to be. 
These few, small things can take the weight off of busy parents, knowing that everything doesn't fall on their shoulders. Having a simple plan in place or a two second exchange with a co-worker could save a child's life.