I do not know why, but I have always had a problem with keys (not with the keys themselves but with keeping them). When I was a kid, my parents worked so much that when I came home from school, I had to use my own keys to get in. My siblings (I have 4) and I never had a good way of keeping our keys and most of the days, we would count on one of the others to open the door for us or used the spare key at our neighbors’ house.
Some people hid their keys under their welcome mat so their kids could enter the house while they worked long hours, but that was not really hiding at all, since all the kids in the neighborhood could find them easily.
The only thing on my mind was how expensive it was to make a new set of keys and the hassle my parents had to go through to get me new keys (not to mention the look on their faces saying I have failed them).
Never in my childhood did my parents or anyone else teach me how to make sure I could always find my keys. As a kid, I need that as part of life. As a teacher, I find it alarming that kids are not being taught how to be organized with their possessions (among oh, so many other useful skills).
You see, kids are very good monkeys – they copy the adults in their life. My dad left the house at 6am every morning. He would wake us up and leave for work. My mom left even earlier and when they came home, we were already there. So I hardly ever saw them locking or unlocking the door. Funny, isn’t it? But because I had no good example of key habits, I could not come up with a good way to keep my keys. Being a kid, I could not just put the keys in my pocket, which was what my dad did, because I ran around and played all day and my pockets were small.
Although I am not a kid anymore and I have learned many good strategies of keeping my keys, I have to say that even now, I have tiny “Where are my keys?” panic attacks, especially when I am rushing out of the house and I cannot find them quickly.
While I think the topic of the right time to give kids the keys is important, I will not touch it today. It is more important that when you do decide it is time, you give your kids the keys with the strategies to keep them safe.
Tips to help kids with keeping their keys
- Make sure your kids have something attached to their keys. It is so much harder to find just a key. I remember we were given a key without anything on it and my sister used to put rubber bands on hers. It is easy to buy something small to attach to the key, but if you want to be creative, you can make something from ribbons, thread, jewelry, etc.
- The best things are highly visible (bright, shiny), long enough for their end to stick out of deep places and possibly with an emotional significance for the kids. I have a pink ribbon holding my keys, so when I look for them in my (mostly black) bag, it is easy to detect the ribbon and to pull the keys out.
- You could get really fancy and buy a key locator device you can whistle to or activate from another unit using a radio signal.
- The best technique that helped my kids and me was to find a place where all the keys are kept when they are not in use. Everyone knows the keys are there, so if someone is looking for the keys to the garage or the keys for the door, they go to “The pants”.
About 10 years ago, my daughter Eden (then 11 years old) and I came up with the pants after watching an art show on TV. Since we did not like the idea of a board with hooks to hang the keys, we looked for a place next to the door that we could put a container with the keys in it. When we come through the door, we put our keys in the container and before we leave the house, we look in the container and can easily find our keys.
The rule is to have the keys in one place and teach all the members of the family to always return it to the same place. My 9-year-old daughter does not have her own keys yet, but when she wants to go into the garage, she takes the keys from “The pants” and puts them back in “The pants”.
I think teaching your kids the “one place” concept will help them keep many small and important things in the future, like their mobile phones, their flash drives and their wallets.
Here is how to make “The pants”:
- Take two plastic cups and fill them with plaster to make the legs
- Blow up a balloon and cover half of it in paper-mâché to make a bowl
- When both are dry, remove the balloon, put the bowl on top of the legs and wrap everything with more paper-mâché
- Once the whole construction is dry, decorate with paint, stickers, marbles, ribbons or whatever you like (a celebration by itself)
- Of course, the more the kids do, the more they will like the result and remember to put their keys in it
- Make sure you put your “key place” away from the public eye – behind a wall, on a dark shelf or behind something else – but close enough to the door to be associated with coming and going
That’s it. Enjoy!
This post is part of the series Handy Family Tips:
- Handy Family Tips: Dishwasher
- Handy Family Tips: Pre-Marinating
- Handy Family Tips: Kitchen Scissors
- Handy Family Tips: First use date
- Handy Family Tips: Kids’ Artwork
- Handy Family Tips: Keys
- Handy Family Tips: Smelly bins
- Handy Family Tips: Treasure box
- Handy Family Tips: Glass jars
- Handy Family Tips: On time is late
- Handy Family Tip: Early is on time
- Handy Family Tips: Electric toothbrush
- Handy Family Tips: Make a Note
- Handy Family Tips: Laundry day
- Handy Family Tips: How to Peel Avocado
- Handy Family Tips: Bathroom Art
- Handy Family Tips: Easy Healthy Spread
- Handy Family Tips: Wake Up With a Smile
- Handy Family Tips: Color Coded Keys
- Handy Family Tips: Road Trip Games
- Handy Family Tips: How to Get Kids to Eat Vegetables
- Handy Family Tips: What to Do When There is No Shaving Cream?
- How to Control Your Kids’ Mobile Phone Use at Night