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As parents, we need to be at our best and most alert in order to make sure our little ones get through this journey safely and without any mishaps. However, it’s not like we sign up for this job or anything; parenthood is more like an interview disguised as a surprise attack – one moment you are chilling out in your room playing Fortnite and the next you have a screaming infant in your arms demanding your attention. So here are some top ways to keep your cool when traveling with kids:
Remember that you’re there to have fun
You’re on vacation with your children because you love them and you want to spend time with them. When you remember that you’re there to have fun, you will be more patient and less likely to get irritated with them for silly things. If you become frustrated and irritable, it’s going to be much harder to have a good time. Your kids will pick up on your mood and start acting out, too, which will make the situation even worse. Try to keep things as normal as possible when you’re on vacation. Go to the grocery store, walk to a nearby park, or even plan an indoor activity that you normally wouldn’t do. These things will help keep your family’s regular routine while still allowing you to enjoy your vacation. You can also set some boundaries, like an electronics curfew or a rule saying you only get dessert if you’ve eaten your vegetables. ## Pack a travel game and snacks The best way to keep kids calm when traveling is to make them feel secure and comfortable. There is nothing as comforting as playing a game they enjoy, preferably one that requires no reading or writing, so that they are engaged throughout the journey. Some classic travel games include: I Spy, What’s in the bag?, and What’s the sound?. In addition to games, pack healthy snacks that are easily accessible. You’re less likely to need a clean-up if your kids spill something in their seats if they’re busy eating. You can also bring some crayons, books, and other quiet activities to keep your little ones entertained.
Let your child decide what they want to bring
You would probably know this from experience, but kids can become very attached to items. And when it’s time to pack, they will pout and throw a tantrum if you don’t let them bring the items that they desperately want. So give your child the chance to decide what they want to bring – within reason, of course. Let them pack their own bag, and let them pick the clothes that they want to wear. By giving them a sense of ownership, they will be more interested in exploring their surroundings and having fun once you’re at your destination. If they are too young to pack on their own, you can do it for them, but let them make decisions about what they want to bring. For example, if you ask your 3-year-old if they want to pack a pair of shoes, they probably won’t know what you’re talking about. But if you say, “Do you want to bring your Minnie Mouse shoes or your SpongeBob sandals?” they will know exactly what you’re asking.
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Make a packing list with your child
Prepare a list together with your child, which has all the items they might forget on their own. You can include the obvious items like towels, pajamas, and toothbrushes, but also things like batteries and a power bank, in case they have any electrical devices that require a charge. Your child might have a pet that requires attention, so make sure you have a list of what you need to take care of them on your trip. This list can be uploaded to a spreadsheet or a Google document, so that everyone in the family can have access to it and add to it as necessary. This way, you know exactly what you need to bring with you and nothing will be forgotten.
Bring only the necessities
Try to limit the number of items you bring with you on the trip. Your child will be more interested in exploring the new environment than unpacking your bags and playing with your stuff. Plus, if you bring too many things, you’re bound to forget something and end up having to return to your hotel or Airbnb to pick it up. Let your child bring a toy or two, but other than that, try to keep the luggage to essentials only. You should also consider storing some of your items in a nearby Airbnb or hotel if you’re staying in a home-away-from-home. This will give you easy access to items you need without having to unpack your entire bag.
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Try not to make any last-minute changes
Last-minute changes are no fun for anyone. If you plan on going to the beach and it’s winter in your area, you’re going to freeze your cicles off. If you plan to go to Disneyland, but you usually go to Disney World, you’ll probably be disappointed. If you plan to go to the beach and it’s very cold, you’ll be miserable. If you plan to go to Disneyland and you end up at Disney World, you may be a bit confused. If you make a last-minute change and something goes wrong, it’s less likely you’ll be able to fix it. For example, if you plan to go to the beach and it’s freezing outside, you can just go back inside and warm up. If you plan to go to Disneyland and you end up at Disney World, you can still have fun. But if you go to the beach and it snows, or if you go to Disneyland and it’s really cold, you’re going to have a miserable trip.
Go for walks before you travel and during layovers
Your child is more likely to have a meltdown if they’re overtired. If you’re traveling with a young child, you may notice that they have trouble falling asleep as soon as you hit the road. Your best bet is to let them walk around a bit and hopefully get some energy out so that they can get some rest on the bus or in the car. But if you’re at an airport, it might not be so easy to get your kid to walk around. If you’re at the airport, ask the airline staff if there’s a place where your child can walk around. If you’re at a hotel, go outside and take a walk around the area. If you’re at a friend or family member’s house, take a walk around their neighborhood.
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Come up with an exit strategy beforehand
If there’s something that your child really wants to do, but you don’t think it’s a good idea, come up with an exit strategy beforehand. For example, if your child really wants to ride a roller coaster, but you know that it’s too scary for them, tell them that you’ll only go if they can successfully answer a math question or finish a certain amount of puzzles. If they know they have to do something in order to get what they want, they’re less likely to throw a fit when they don’t get to go on the ride they want to. You can also let your child pick two or three things that they want to do. Then, let them vote on which one they want to do the most.
Come up with a reward system
A reward system is great for reminding kids to behave, stay positive, and enjoy their trip. You can create your own system or use an app like Flip Your Mood. The app lets you create a routine by setting a goal each day and earning points for hitting your goals. You can pick from a variety of categories like Happiness, Sleep, and Exercise. The app also has a special section for kids and a section for parents.
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