Toddlers and Car Keys - Locked In

I don’t know a parent that hasn’t let their child play with the car keys. You are waiting in line at the grocery store or you are walking into the mall and it is an easy toy and distraction. Young toddlers love keys. The other day, that innocent act of letting my daughter carry the keys could have been a huge disaster.

It was a typical weeknight. I arrived at my children’s daycare to gather them up. My daughter insisted on holding mommy’s keys. I let her. She carried them all the way to the car. Once at the car my son climbed in and bucked himself in his car seat. I put my daughter in her car seat and buckled her in. While distracting her with the process of buckling I grabbed the keys and tossed them on the front driver’s seat, feeling proud that there were no tears and screams because I took them away. I closed my daughter’s door and went to get in myself. I could not open my door. It was locked. My kids were buckled safely in their seats and I was on the outside looking in. My phone was also inside the car. My sweet girl had pushed the lock button on my car remote. Fortunately it was early winter and the kids were in no danger of getting too hot.

I am still in the daycare parking lot. Specifically, I am in the front row of the circle drive blocking all the other parents. I had to borrow someone’s phone to notify my husband and to get someone to my house to locate the spare key. The police were called, just in case, by the daycare owner and here I stand, my kids locked in the car and me trying to talk to them through the window. The concerned parents of the other children were stopping and offering their support all the while thinking to themselves “thank goodness it is not me”. The maintenance worker at daycare was able to work a hook into my window, grab the keys, and pass them to my son. I instructed my son to push the open button, knowing he likes to the push the red panic button. Holding my breath and imagining the kids locked in the car and the horn honking, I hear the doors unlock and my son is the hero of the day.

Today, before I close my children’s doors, I make sure those keys are in my hand along with my phone.

This is a common mistake and when I told friends, many confessed to having similar situations. If this ever happens to you, don’t panic. Your children will sense your anxiety. Talk to your children and make a peek-a-boo or hide-n-seek game out of the situation while you wait for help. Be very conscious of the temperature outside and in your car. In the summer the temperature inside a car can climb fast. If the wait will be long and it is too hot, you will need to break a window or a lock. Those things can be repaired. And remember, hang on to those keys.