As every mother knows, assigning “a place for everything” does not guarantee we will always find “everything in its place.” Items will inevitably turn up missing from time to time, and our family is no exception. So it’s important to know how to find something you’ve lost quickly and easily, if at all possible.
The things we are most likely to lose at our house are winter coats, van keys, our six-year-old’s glucometer, and matching shoes for every child under eight. This, despite the fact that each of these items has a clearly-defined and easily-accessible home.
How to find something you’ve lost
So what are we to do when our stuff goes AWOL? The strategies I’ve found to be most effective are as follows
Retrace your steps
If you’re the one who’s lost something, think back to where you last saw it, then check there and everywhere else you’ve been since you misplaced the item. If it’s your child who is missing something, walk him through these same steps.
Pray for God’s help in finding it
This should really be what you do first, but if you are anything like me, you may not remember to do it until you’ve already tried step #1 without success. The advantage to praying straight off the bat is that:
- Nothing is hidden from God. He already knows where to find what you are looking for, and it’s a small matter for Him to steer you in the right direction.
- Prayer has a calming effect, which is especially important if you were running late already.
- Voicing a prayer keeps your tongue busy, so you are less likely to chew out the (ir)responsible party or to say something you’ll later regret.
Solicit help from family
The more people searching, the faster you’ll find it. You might even offer a small reward to the child who can locate it first.
Straighten as you go
Instead of ransacking the place, use the opportunity to tidy things up, and teach your children to do the same. If there are clothes or towels on the floor, don’t just leave them lying. Pick them up and put them on a hook or in a hamper while you are searching. Same goes for toys, books, coats, caps, pillows, blankets, etc. As other items in the room are picked up and put away, it will be easier to tell whether the lost item is there. If it isn’t, go to the next room and repeat the process. If you’re lucky, you won’t find what you’re looking for until the entire house is in order!
To avoid unnecessary delays in the future, you might also consider keeping extras of important items. That way, if your child can’t find his shoes or you discover a missing set of car keys on your way out the door, you can use the back-up pair now and search for the lost ones later.
What about you? How do you find something you’ve lost? What do you do when you can’t locate the stuff you desperately need? If you’ve got other search-and-rescue strategies, please share!