I know a lot of parents track their kids with fancy apps these days. And I get it: gone are the days of “just be home before the streetlights come on.” But I don’t bother. Instead, I have a rule that’s pretty simple, straightforward, and almost old-school: We text each other before we leave to go somewhere. We text when we get there. We text when we leave. That’s enough for me — but it’s a requirement.
When the kids were younger, I always contacted the parents if they were spending the night. As soon as they got phones, they knew part of the privilege of being allowed to spend the night with friends was that they had to check in with me. If they decided to stay after school to watch a soccer game, they needed to tell me via text first. If their plans changed and they wanted to go somewhere else, text.
This annoyed them, and they told me to just check SnapChat, the only thing I’ve ever used even sporadically to track my kids. But that’s not enough for me. SnapChat, or even more purpose-built apps like Life360, can let you know where someone is. I know how common tracking apps are for kids and teens; almost every parent I know uses one. But kids could drop their phone, or God forbid, something could happen to them while they’re en route somewhere. An app can tell me where they are, but it’s not even close to hearing from my kids when they arrive at work or at a friend’s house. It’s passive — it’s not the same as a simple, active check-in.
Sending a text takes around ten seconds. It can become a habit quickly. And if you ask me, it’s so important in this day and age to let at least one person know where you are and when you expect to be home. I hate even having to admit that, but it’s our reality. I could be more aggressive and track them but I think a simpler approach is better.
It doesn’t matter how old you are, it’s good practice to let someone know where you are. My kids and friends have called me overprotective. It’s never bothered me.
And while some might think my way is too high maintenance, it’s what I need to do as a mother. My kids know the drill and no longer complain. And I think, deep down, they like knowing that I need to hear from them when they arrive somewhere. It’s become instinctual for all of us, and it gives us all peace of mind.
Katie lives in Maine with her three kids, two ducks, and a Goldendoodle. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, at the gym, redecorating her home, or spending too much money online.