15 April 2008

A game for getting two kids safely buckled into the car

Nikki's trick for keeping kids close at hand in the parking lot:

My son's car seat was on the gas tank side of the car. My daughter was learning her shapes at the time. I'd turn getting into the car into a game of tag by making her "touch the square" until I got her brother safely into the car. I could use two hands to put my son in his car seat while watching my daughter stay put touching the cover to the gas tank. Then when I had my son all buckled in, I would grab her hand and walk her over to her side of the car.

She is four and still plays this game. It also works at the store when you need a free hand. Spot an item with an easy-to-identify shape and color and ask them to touch it to keep them close to you while you write a check.

Related: "Ground tie" your child

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I'm just not comfortable with taking my attention away from my older child (age 3) while I buckle the baby into his carseat, so when I open the door, the older one climbs in and over the infant seat to get to his booster. He loves the climbing part, and I love that he's safe inside the car.

My 2.5-year-old loves to climb. I'd never thought of having him climb over the baby's seat! I've been opening his door first and telling him to "climb like Diego!" And once he's mostly in his seat, I go put the baby in and buckle, then go around the car to buckle in the toddler. I'll have to try having him climb OVER the baby's seat. He'll probably love that.

I spent most of my summers during college working at a Girl Scout camp, and a big part of my job was driving the big van to and from the horse stables, the river, campsites, etc.

The girls were all old enough to get in and fasten their seatbelt (7-10 year olds) but having three rows of three girls made it hard to see if everyone had taken a break from their tween non-stop talking to actually buckle their seatbelt.

Once I was in the driver's seat and the other staff member settled in riding shot gun we'd turn around and yell "Hands on the ceiling!" The new girls would be a bit confused, but our veteran campers knew that they needed to buckle their belt and then reach up to touch the ceiling. Once I could count everyone's hands on the ceiling I knew that everyone was buckled, and then I'd start the van.

By the second or third day they would get in, buckle up and put their hands up immediately. They started to race me, to get in and buckled with hands on the ceiling before I could get in the driver's seat and buckle myself. When they did, they got to pick the radio station.

Obviously this works best with a large group of older kids (ie driving carpool, to scout events, etc) but I'm sure there's a way to modify it for smaller groups and younger children.

We have our eldest get in and climb into her seat, and shut the door. Then I strap the youngest in while the oldest is trying to get into her seat. With youngest strapped in, I then go back and strap the eldest in.

To exit I park. Unbuckle both of them, they both climb down, then I open one door and they both go out it. As each exits they grab my hand.

I have played the touch the car, but my eldest gets distracted by any birds and will run to go see it.

Whitney calls this "hands on a hardbody" and we can get the boys to hold tight with both hands.

This reminds me of a trick I saw a parent do in a McDonald's parking lot years ago (post-birthday-party): the kids looked to be about 5 or so, and after everyone was seated in the car the Dad yelled, "okay, everybody, thumbs on your noses!" Everyone's fingers were safe from getting slammed in the doors when he closed them!

I go to the passenger side first, let the two older kids climb in, get in their seats, then strap the baby in. I walk to the drivers side and buckle in the two year old and check the four year old. I think I would go crazy going back and forth more than once, everytime we went out.

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