Our kids are numbered. Not because we’ve forgotten what we named them, but because once my husband and I got outnumbered, we had to start counting heads to make sure we had everybody.
When we go out to an activity, let’s say a birthday party at a play place, our kids scatter. In these types of situations, it is less disruptive to hold up five fingers to my husband across the room (signaling that I have lost sight of Number 5) than to start shouting the name of my child. My husband will either give me a thumbs up (signaling he has eyes on #5) or start helping me look for the kid.
This system also helps with Stranger Danger issues .
When their number is on their T-shirt instead of their names, strangers can’t use familiarity as a lure. Added bonus: We know what that child is wearing and what number is on his/her back, so we can give a good description to Zoo Security (true story).
In the car, we have a type of roll call.
We will go down the line (Number 1, are you buckled? Number 2..?) to double check that everyone is in the car, and that he or she is buckled. Unfortunately, this roll call gets skipped when we are stressed and rushing- which is exactly when we NEED to roll call. I’ve left two different kids at home on two different occasions because I assume every kid is where they are supposed to be. The kids are starting to get the idea that they need to work on their self-preservation skills.
It always takes a few years for the youngest to understand his number isn’t the same as his age (“You’re Number Seven!” “No, I THREE!!”), but it is a good organizational system for the older kids.