I have to continually remind myself that I’m not *that* mom. The one who disguises their concerns for their child’s safety and security by being extra cool and making their kids want them to tag along wherever they go. Both the girls were okay with me volunteering in their classroom and occasionally going on field trips, but we’ve long outgrown their interest in allowing me to volunteer as a chaperone.
In hindsight, it was probably a good way to help wean me off the need to be hovering over them all the time. Field trips don’t worry me because I know there are other moms watching out for my daughters’ safety on my behalf. Yet I amaze myself when I let them go out for long bicycle rides or out for a random walk with the neighbor kids. As mom to two girls, one who is particularly small for her age, it’s difficult. During Halloween trick-or-treating, I rely on my iPhone 6S and my girls’ iPhones with U.S. Cellular coverage to keep me sane and help keep them safe.
Here are a handful of tricks to make the treats the focus of the night.
Ahead of time, get organized.
Before you read any further, decide whether your child is old enough to trick-or-treat without your supervision. For us, when the girls were in 5th and 6th grade we let them go without us and coordinated for them to be with a couple other classmates for added safety. Last year, we let the just the two of them go out. If you don’t feel your child is responsible enough to follow the rules and agreements you’ve made, then don’t feel bad about telling them they cannot fly solo. It’s amazing how much initiative kids will begin to take when they figure out that poor decision-making is preventing them from doing things like this… without you tagging along.
Set up emergency information
A phone can be a lifeline both figuratively and literally. With the iPhone, users can (and should) set up all their pertinent medical information as well as emergency contact information. That feature not only allows users to dial an emergency number (911) when the phone is locked, but also provides medical information for authorities should something happen. Before I go any further, I want to stress that this isn’t a trick-or-treat or kids-only feature. This is a serious life-saving feature that everyone with a phone should have completed in full. Current medications, medical conditions, blood type, allergies, emergency contact name and heaven forbid, organ donor details. While Android devices don’t offer this same feature, users should enter pertinent information such as emergency contact name and number and medical issues that will display on the locked screen.
Take photographs of your child
Yeah, I know. That sounds really obvious. Doesn’t pretty much every parent take photos of their littles in their adorable (or scary) outfits before the Halloween party or trick or treating? That’s not what I’m referring to here. It’s a shame that we have to think of the worst case scenario but should something happen to a child, a current photo is a necessity for law enforcement officials. What was the last thing your child was wearing? “Ummm… a princess outfit like that one and that one and that one.” Use your phone to take a photo that shows what the child is wearing, including any accessories or masks. If your child will be wearing the costume over other clothing, take a picture that way also. If you want photos on a DSLR, do that separately. It’s good to have the phones readily available on your phone to text or email should an emergency arise.
Set rules and guidelines for the kids
We live in a safe neighborhood, but that’s also what makes it unsafe. During Halloween, we become a drop-off zone for kids in less privileged neighborhoods as well as kids with a trick-or-treat night schedule for the day prior. So while we may recognize a lot of people, we don’t know everyone. First and foremost, the girls need to stick together. We gave them parameters of which neighborhoods were allowed and what we felt was too far away. Aside from that, they need to keep their phones on, volume up as loud as possible in case I call or text and most important, maintain an open line for me to check their location. Last year I used the search feature built into iMessage so I could check on them and if I didn’t like their location or noticed they weren’t together I could call them right away and rectify the problem. Find My Friends is a way to map out the locations of multiple family members at once. Once an iPhone novelty, the app is now available for Android devices through Google Play. If you are on the fence about letting the kids out of the house alone, this app will give you some solitude.
Be aware of surroundings
Our girls are told they need to be aware of their surroundings, too. Make note of cars or people who are trick-or-treating without children. If they feel uncomfortable, take a picture of a car’s license plate and text it to me. It may be overly cautious, but it’s helpful for me! They also need to be cautious while crossing streets. Parents who drive alongside their kids as they go door to door (the laziest kind of helicopter parenting) are focused on their own kids and might not be paying attention when other children are crossing the street. Bring a flashlight or headlamp along to help navigate areas that aren’t well lit. If your child doesn’t want to carry one, remind them their phone has a built-in flashlight.
Check in regularly
Okay, so you have the ability to stalk them using Find My Friends, but that doesn’t mean you should have to. Require your kids to text every once in a while as well as call at designated times. Use the alarm feature in the clock settings to create reminder notifications. Because… free candy… who knows if they’ll remember on their own!
By following these steps, your child can have a safe, happy and fun Halloween. But since you’ll be relying on their phone to keep them connected with you from afar, make sure you have also equipped them with a power bank and cable to charge their battery should it get low. We’ve featured a variety of portable chargers in the past, but U.S. Cellular recommends the PureGear PureJuice Portable Charger and the Mophie Juice Pack which doubles as a case as other options.
So that does it. Steps to take for a safer Halloween. Ready… Set… GO!
Will you be allowing your kids to go out Trick-or-treat?