Our trip to South Dakota to see my brother has just been officially nixed. Snow storm is coming. I’m SO sad. That is an understatement. I was so looking forward to seeing my brother being a dad and playing with his dog and going sledding with all our collective kiddos. I was anxiously awaiting a nice long conversation with my sister-in-law who I don’t know nearly as well as I would like to. And Benny. Benny. My nephew. His sweet drooly 2-year-old-ness. I can’t breathe.
OK. I’m back.
Just to keep my mind off my pain, I thought I’d let you in on a few traveling with kiddos secrets I have learned over the years.
So, if you are already on your way – file this one away for next time.
1. Kids have trouble pooping while traveling. DUH. (So do adults, so I participate in this plan too. :)) It’s a good bet mine won’t poop until we get home, even if our trip lasts a week!! So, two or three days before we leave I start piling on the fiber and water. Try dried fruits, fiber bars, beans, etc. At least then I know we are leaving without, uh, clogs.
2. It can be tough to find the time and energy to bathe the kids on the road. So, I always give the kids a good scrub, double conditioning for the girl’s hair, and nail clip check, before we leave. (And I’ll be honest. I don’t really check the kid’s teeth much on the road, so give those molars a double brush before you leave too.)
3. Always pack an overnight bag with an extra set of clothes for each member of the family. That way if you have to stop unexpectedly you don’t have to haul out all 17 suitcases. I also just hate pulling into a place and needing a shirt for whoever spilled their drink on themselves in the car.
It’s like, “Hello long-lost relative. Do you mind if I haul in my entire van full of stuff real quick, disappear for 30 minutes while I find my baby a new t-shirt? Then, by all means, give me a tour of your home and serve me some snacks.”
Hate that. Just bring in your little overnight bag at first and then you can wait for a better time to unload. Then I use that bag as my dirty laundry bag for the rest of the trip.
4. I don’t let the kids watch TV or play video games for the day or two leading up to the trip. Then I don’t feel any guilt when they veg out to DVD after DVD during our 14 hour car trip. They also seem more excited about the movies and less antsy.
5. Even though you will be right on top of one another, I don’t think of traveling as a time for getting good one-on-one time with the kids. Often Ben and I will talk, talk, talk on a trip, but the kids are kind of doing their own thing. Then, once you get where you are going, it’s time to concentrate on whoever you are visiting, so again, the kids can feel a little isolated or left out. I try and prepare the kids for the reality that visiting people means mom and dad aren’t going to be as available, and give them a little extra time before we leave. We talk about who we are visiting, how to act in other people’s homes, especially eating other people’s food, please and thank yous – etc.
6. At Christmas time, especially, I like to read the Christmas story with each kid before we leave, just to make sure they are tuned into what exactly we value on that day. Being with family and friends is such a wonderful part of the season, but Jesus can get lost in the blurr of food, presents, family, and traveling.
OK – that’s it. Merry Christmas, again, everyone.