By Julia H.
As if by magic, we have been transported through time to the universe where it is only 11 days until Thanksgiving, with the winter holidays following immediately on Thanksgiving's heels. There are so many things to look forward to at this time of year! But, in many cases, there's a catch - travel, and sometimes lots of it.
Traveling with small children - no matter your mode of transportation - can create some difficult challenges, and it's easy to get stressed out while trying to help your kids navigate (sorry, I couldn't resist!) the process. Here are a few tips that might help you (and your family members) stay calm:
- Explain what your kids can expect from the travel experience. Flying? Don't forget to talk about the security check process, how boarding works, and how during turbulence they might not be allowed to get up and go to the bathroom. Driving? Talk about how often you'll stop for breaks, how long it will take, whether you'll stay the night at a hotel, etc.
- Lower your expectations: even grownups get cranky when they are stuck buckled into a plane or a car - and there's a good chance that during the course of your trip, your kids will get frustrated (and will express that frustration in normal, age-appropriate ways). It's easy to get angry when someone across the aisle is grumbling about your kid crying on the airplane, or when you miss a turn because the GPS' voice is drowned out by the 1000th request for a snack, but try not to lose your temper - it won't get you there any faster. If you do lose your temper? That's okay, it happens - it's a great opportunity to model mindfulness to your kids! Say, "Hey, I'm sorry. I lost my temper - I'm frustrated and nervous about all this traveling, too. How can we all work together to make this easier?"
- Snacks and toys: Hungry means cranky, and cranky makes everything more complicated, so make sure you have travel-friendly snacks that you can access easily while traveling. Choose toys that can be used in lots of ways, and that don't have small parts that are easily lost.
- Plan for the things you know will be hard for your particular child: for example, my youngest is a high-energy, wiggly kid, and she absolutely hates being stuck in a carseat for any length of time. In order to make longer trips possible, we include stops at local parks every 60-90 minutes or so on our trips. It takes longer to get places, but everyone's in a much better mood when we arrive!
The internet is rife with blog posts about traveling with small children, but I'm curious about what works for you! Send your tips to email@example.com and you may be featured in an upcoming Squeak!
Hey, do you miss seeing a photo from school in the Weekly Squeak? I do, too! If you have one to share, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org!