23 February 2006

'Tattoo' your kid with your cell phone number

Michael in Sydney has this tip when you take your kid to a crowded event (or travel):

When you go somewhere that will be very crowded and there's a chance one of your kids will get lost (think somewhere with lots of children or big crowds), write your mobile (cell) phone number on the child's arm with a felt-tip pen and explain to them that if they get lost and can't see mum or dad, they should ask someone to ring that number.

We did this the first time yesterday and also put a card with the mobile number in my son's pocket, again reinforcing that if he became lost he should give it to someone to call, but I like the writing on the arm in case he is too upset to remember the card.

(Oh - one more tip - I did this the other day while at a big car show, but while we were there, my mobile phone battery died!)

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I started doing this as a preschool teacher on field trips. I put my cell number on masking tape on their backs where they can't reach it.

Does anyone know if "they" still make a heavy-duty velcro wrist band that when opened has a clear window with contact information visible?

Peter: they do. I used one for each of my kids this summer when we were traveling in Europe. Here's one source:

http://readyorg.com/id_inside.html

I first came across this at a big outdoor event.

There was a little girl about nine years old with a number written on her arm.

I said "oh, did you get some cute boy's number?" and she just looked at me with withering scorn and explained...

Our kids have hip packs that they wear on vacation. We would write the child's name, our names, our hotel name and address, phone number there, our cel phones and our home info too and put that in the bag.

At a recent trip to Disneyland I wrote my name and cell phone number on a piece of masking tape and put one on each of my kids' backs. The 18-month-old never knew it was there to object to it.

When we took our young'un to Disney World (and other similarly crowded locations), we used "Hi, my name is" tags (on the back) to include our name and my cell number.

I like the idea of writing it on the arm, though.

How come nobody has thought of the creepy connotations of "tattooing" someone's arm with numbers? Does that not bring up any terrible thoughts?

well yes, but losing a kid is a worse thought.
ID bracelets, sticky labels, and other things are a great idea.
For groups, a daycare that has come to visit me put pinnys over the kids' coats with the daycare name and phone number written on them, and others put a t-shirt with the daycare name and number on everychild who leaves in the teachers' care. I've seen parents similarly use bright coloured caps to easily identify their kid in a crowd.

We had "business cards" made with both parents plus nanny's phone numbers, then got some vinyl envelopes (kinda like luggage tag holders but with no stiffness), big safety pins, and pin a tag into each jacket they own. And in their backpacks.

If it's short-sleeve weather and we're going somewhere unusual, we give them a card to put in their pocket. Toss it at the end of the day, the cards were cheap.

(We started this at an early age, certainly by the time they were going to preschool.)

(sorry for the long post)
I think all of the ideas mentioned are wonderful solutions. The stickies and tape used to work for my daughter too, until she could reach them. And now that she can dress/undress herself, they don't work as well anymore. I like the write-it-on-the-arm idea, because that's almost impossible to lose. And if you make it pretty enough (any which way your child defines pretty) they are less likely to want to remove it.

When our daughter was still in crawling or barely-walking stage, we'd tie a helium balloon to her (shoulder strap, belt loop,...) while at parties. She had the freedom to move where she wanted - mostly - and we could still keep tabs on her.

Scott:Yes, at first sight I understand your objection to tattooing numbers on arms. I'm assuming you're referring to the numbers on the arms of people in nazi camp. But you have to remember the context. First and foremost, the numbers aren't permanent. Nor meant for anywhere near the same purpose. There's nothing inherently wrong with writing down a number to help the kids! And besides that, none of the kids have any knowledge of the Nazi practise. And by now, probably most parents do neither.

One word of caution. I've found that sunscreen, at least the continuous spray on type, will remove Sharpie pen ink. I'm still looking for the perfect child ID that my kids can't remove (they are still very young and not always cooperative). I've looked into hospital bands and medical type ID bracelets all with my cell phone #.

Sharpie ink can be removed with rubbing alcohol ... probably what was in the sunscreen?

So if you need to remove the number when you get home, just pull out the rubbing alcohol and some cotton balls.

I found 2 websites that make temporary tattoos for kids with the parent's cell phone # on them. They last for days and won't wash off. We will always use them anytime we go on a trip.

The local police gave us these tips:
- don't write your child's name where anyone else can see it. Children tend to think that anyone who 'knows' their name is a friend, and it's okay to go off with them.
- write your cell phone number on your child so that the parent can be called if lost.
- write YOUR name & address on the child's tummy or back. (Covered by clothes) That way the police (or whoever) can match that info against your Driver's Licence and be happy that they are handing over the lost child to the actual (or custodial) parent.

Tattoo the kid with phone number is a good idea to make your child remember your phone number.

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