My son lost a glove earlier this winter. The very next day he lost another glove from his spare pair. Then he found them all. Then he left a complete pair of mittens on the school bus. And we got those back.
Another son has misplaced a pair of snowpants which we are still looking for.
And believe me, I am trying, trying, trying to teach all my boys the importance of keeping track of their things.
But I’m not so sure other parents are trying to teach that lesson, and it makes me sad.
Below is a photo of my the lost and found area at my boys’ school.
By the time spring arrives, this area will be bursting with all kinds of clothing from hats to snow pants to winter boots to sweatshirts.
At the bus garage where all of the school bus lost and found is brought, there was a large bin for the current day’s lost and found, another large bag packed full from the day before and another brimming bag from the prior week.
Last year the school was practically begging parents to look through the lost and found. And yet, it remained overflowing. After awhile, the school just gave the items away.
I can’t help but wonder why parents aren’t making their kids look for their stuff. And I’m even more perplexed as to why they don’t even seem to be missing the stuff.
On the occasions that I helped my son look for his lost mittens, I came across some beautiful snow pants, boots, gloves, hats, shoes, lunch boxes, sweatshirts, sweaters, and jackets – many of them name brand items that would that would cost quite a bit of money to replace.
Have we really become so much of a disposable society that we don’t even care about finding lost things because we can just go out and buy new ones?
And is that really the best use of your money?
Yes, it’s a hassle to go to the lost and found and dig through it to find your lost gloves. But going to the store and buying new gloves every other week doesn’t exactly seem like a time saver. And it gets expensive.
Wouldn’t it be better to teach kids to take care of their things?
If you want your kids to take care of their families and take care of the planet, I cannot think of a better way to begin that lesson than by teaching them to take care of their things.
Teach them to label their items. Things labeled with names and phone numbers are far more likely to be returned to their rightful owners.
Teach them to keep track of their things. For the little ones, picture charts can help them remember. Teach the older kids to keep their things in the same place so they know where they are.
Teach them to problem solve when they’ve misplaced something (i.e. Where could I have left it? Where is the lost and found? Can I ask a friend or grown-up to help me look for it?)
Teach them that there are consequences for losing or ruining items. For example, in our house, lost or broken toys may not get replaced. If a child is excessively losing necessary things like mittens, they will need to pay for their replacement with their own money (or work off the cost with chores).
These are such simple lessons, but judging from the Lost and Found bins I’ve seen, somewhere along the way these little lessons have been lost.
Before you go out and replace something you can’t find, I hope you take a closer look around you. You just may save yourself some money and help out our planet at the same time.